Whenever we experience estrangement, we are often left shocked, dismayed, and can start to experience the sense of an unfinished story in our head. Because our heads don’t like unfinished stories, we can come up with all sorts of explanations to fill that void. The thing is, those reasons can end up playing against us. Is it something we said? something we did? What could have possibly justified a cut off?
Invariably, that can become the problem. Filling our heads and hearts with answers that can have to do with personalizing it on us. And if we’re not careful, guilt, sadness, and other negative emotions can arise. This can cause us to get down on ourselves, and foster rumination about what could have been said or done. In any case, holding a perception that we are not accepted, while even if not our own, can be a painful weight to bear.
So what can we do when we begin to revisit incidences and ruminate? First, recognizing that another’s perception is not our own is paramount. Even if we’re forcibly estranged. In the support group, we sometimes talk about not owning what is another’s inaccurate perception of us. That, itself, is a poor portrayal of who we are, so why take on something that is flawed? A good statement to work with is “that doesn’t belong to me.” The more we repeat this, the more we are short circuiting the process of personalizing to ourselves the outcome of a painful situation. And when you stop a weed from growing at its root, what happens? It dies out. Letting outdated and useless ideas wither away is a step in reclaiming yourself, and, ultimately, an empowering gesture in the face of sibling estrangement.
All the best, and let me know how you do with this!
Ali-John Chaudhary is a Registered Psychotherapist with offices in Ontario and Quebec. He helps clients from different parts of the world going through sibling estrangement issues, and produces YouTube videos on the same subject, with author Fern Schumer Chapman. He also hosts a twice monthly online support group on zoom for those looking to empower themselves with this rarely discussed subject.