The decision to reconcile is often an ongoing and tortuous process. This is true at any point of the estrangement but particularly after a great deal of time has passed and all parties are off living their own lives. And yet we yearn for a healthy connection, driven by the human desire to create/recreate happier times.
With my clients, they have to make their own decision on whether to reconcile but we often explore different ways of working through the decision making process.
This might include doing a pros and cons list to highlight the good aspects of the relationship with the bad.
But another exercise we do is to paint a very detailed picture of their life and it’s many facets, including work, home, hobbies, goals, friends, etc. I also ask them to integrate important past events, such as weddings, birthdays, child birth, successes, etc as well as future events.
And in this place, I’ll ask them if there is room for estranged family members in this life, do they belong there and most importantly, do they want to be part of it (in whatever capacity)? If they were there, would they be happy for you, would they be there with no agenda…or will there be a tension which upsets the stability? This also emphasizes their contribution to your life, which could be very little…And if you really need them at all.
But this works both ways in that estranged family members might not necessarily want you back in their lives either. So we also visualise if they are glad to have you there.
Being honest, these strategies don’t always work but they might break any analysis paralysis and move the decision making process forward a small bit.