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AIBU to ask for your experiences of reconciling with family after a major rift?

(12 Posts)
Islifetooshortforthis Sun 03-Apr-16 20:32:08

..and were things ever the same?
This situation concerns the break up of my family which was the single most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me (and we’ve had to contend with some major shit). Even 12 years on, it feels gut wrenchingly painful, the kind of pain that makes us shed those heavy, uncontrollable tears that require no effort to produce.
It concerns my mums only sister (theyre in their early fifties) and were extremely close. We were an enormously close family (maybe too close perhaps, if there is such a thing). Mine and my aunts cousins childhoods were completely entwined because we all grew up together. A blissful, wonderful childhood. We lived mere moments from each other for years until an argument between my mum and her sister happened which escalated enormously and very quickly. I have to say (and I am being totally truthful here), it wasn’t my mums fault. My aunt adored my mum and perhaps depended on her a little more than was the case vice versa and im sure she expected my mum to stop the argument. She was always very stubborn and defensive and this is what I believe caused the situation to reach the stage it did. The bottom line is that my aunts daughter (now early thirties) was the catalyst for this. She was notoriously difficult, jealous and nasty and always was. Nothing enormous, but stuff that causes problems. I cant reveal too much because it is too identifying. Nothing which broke the law, but stuff that you just wouldn’t do to your family. Up until now, she has been the only reason that we haven’t reached out to offer an olive branch because we would prefer to not have her in our lives.
The argument came to a head when we sold our houses and both moved away. We haven’t spoken since. I was shopping with my Mum a few years ago and saw a lady staring at us. I realised quickly it was my aunt. She was looking straight at my mum and it was the saddest thing ive ever seen. I’ll never forget the expression on her face as long as I live.
Fast forward 12 years and my mum and I still miss her desperately and I am so sad that my mum is missing out on her sister. We are seriously considering sending her a note to tell her that she is missed and loved.
Has anyone ever been in this situation? What happened? This post makes it seem so simple. It was a truly horrible break up. Some awful things were said and done by my aunt when my mum retained a dignified silence and never rose to her lashing out. We recognise that my mum totally blanking her retaliations probably made it seem like she was able to cleanly cut her out. We had a serious heart to heart recently and both admitted that we would be willing to forget everything and move on if she wanted to. My grandparents are aging and also haven’t seen her since all this happened (my aunt felt that they took Mums side and hasn’t spoken to them since). We know that my aunt must have suffered and actually heard recently that shortly after we sold our houses, she had a nervous breakdown and was apparently extremely unwell. This came as a shock because she had never previously suffered MH issues. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

incywincybitofa Sun 03-Apr-16 20:43:09

Why has it taken 12 years to decide you want to make peace?
Families are the group that can have tremendous fallings out and yet somehow heal rifts quickly.
But do you really want to go back to what it was? It doesn't sound very healthy, do you think the relationship is all or nothing?

wigglebum84 Sun 03-Apr-16 20:47:38

When I was 21 and due my first little boy my family was torn apart by an argument that was nothing to do with me. One day I had this amazing family who would do anything for each other and then it was gone.

My sister fell out with my brother & his wife which then meant my mum sided with my sister as she still lived at home (also it wasn't really her fault) and my brother banned my nephews from seeing us. They missed me having 2 children and getting married. When I think about it I get really angry. I missed my DN's being teenagers and leaving school.

Secretly I blame the lot of them especially my brothers wife. One of my DN's started to sneak to my DM's and we saw him and then when my DC were 5&6 they asked to send him a card.

I'd had enough by that point so I went to see my DB and said get over yourselves and let's try to get back our family.

My DB & DS won't talk and it will never be the same again but I love my DN's and I'm glad my DC will have them in their lives.

My DN's are young men now so I like to think they would make their own minds up if anything were to happen again.

Reach out to your Aunt , cant hurt to try, can it?

Islifetooshortforthis Sun 03-Apr-16 20:50:36

That's a good question, incy. My aunt didn't cope very well at all with the argument and it blew out of proportion very quickly and she said some horrible things and acted very hastily (selling her house and moving away was one example). We want to go back to how it was in terms of having what was a loving family (believe it or not, the good times were very very good but I firmly believe that we lived in each others pockets too much). Perhaps the relationship was a bit all or nothing but we did previously stick together very firmly. My mum and I feel that she probably regrets what she did and life is too short to wonder 'what if'?

Islifetooshortforthis Sun 03-Apr-16 21:06:39

wiggle, thank you so much for sharing that. I am so sorry you have been through this. It's hard to articulate just how hard it is, isn't it. To people who don't know, it seems like you weren't a close family when you know otherwise.
I think we will probably reach out to her but it takes courage

Groovee Sun 03-Apr-16 21:14:13

We cut contact with dh's brother and SIL for 5 years. SIL was picking on my Dd again and I lost the plot, removed myself and my children from where we were and told dh I was cutting contact.

She got in touch and at first she was ok but her old behaviour has reared its head again so she's at arms length. It's the best place to be honest.

MoodyWarps Sun 03-Apr-16 21:26:01

My sister and I fell out, I apologised immediately and tried to work through the argument. She refused to speak to me for two years and then decided she wanted to rebuild our relationship. I have agreed but feel like the time apart has damaged our friendship to the point of no return. We can be civil but we will never be the same again. That said, it certainly takes the sting out of the difficult times we went through, it's just sad that we won't ever be close again.

fuctifino Sun 03-Apr-16 21:36:06

My twin sister and I fell out 12 years ago, when our children were 18 months old. In reality, it was something and nothing made infinitely worse by 'd'twin sending me a letter telling me never to contact her or her family ever again.
Last year, my dd (13) asked if she could have contact details for her cousin as she'd like to get to know her, they were born within 2 weeks of each other. My dm helped in this request and I facilitated them meeting up in a city close to my home. My dd went off with 'd'twin and cousins whilst I went off with my younger dd.
On the way home, my dd told me that my 'd'twin had bad mouthed me and made her feel really awkward, she didn't know how to respond. I have never discussed with my dd why we fell out and have always said I don't dislike my sister, I just don't have any desire to see her.
For me, I know things can never be the same. I have no wish to resume a relationship with her, despite the pleadings of my dm, ddad and other dsis.

I can understand your feelings regarding the rift, but I know when I saw my 'd'twin again, it caused me a great deal of anxiety. In fact, my dh was going to take my dd but a last minute work thing came up so I had to go. If another meeting is ever arranged, he will be doing the dropping off as I don't want to make myself ill again.

Good luck if you do build bridges but in my experience, it isn't easy meeting up (even though I didn't speak to my sister) and can stir up all those bad feelings again.
Your aunt may struggle emotionally/mentally as well.

BoatyMacBoatFace Sun 03-Apr-16 21:59:45

My DM fell out with her DM when I was 12/13. We also moved house - we did all live in the same street until then.

It was over DGMs partner, who was vile to my DM and DGM took his side. My DM wasn't at fault at all.

They made up after about three years (20 years ago) and things are back to normal now. My DM was always so upset that they fell out. It never gets mentioned now.

It can be done. But it's whether both sides want to. Could you write a letter saying how much time has passed and that you miss her and would like to see her? The worst she could say is no. And least you'd know then, either way.

WonderingAspie Sun 03-Apr-16 22:10:06

There was a huge rift caused by me and my cousin falling out. Well it wasn't us so much, we had a disagreement, she told my aunt (her mum and her DP) and they just cut me off. I wasn't actually in the wrong and it was the most ridiculous thing as I had been very close to that aunt and all of her children. Cutting me off for what the disagreement was about was unbelievably ott. Things settled to an extent and I invited them all to my wedding to show no hard feelings. Then my cousin lied about something that to do with the original fallout and the whole thing blew up again and my aunt said they werect coming to the wedding. One of her children came to my wedding, as he is like a brother to me and said he has his own mind, I was told another cousin didn't want to go but they lied to him and said he couldn't and I didn't want the cousin who lied there at all as she created the whole thing. She is a compulsive liar and you cannot believe a single word that comes out of her mouth. She is NC with her mum and 1 brother for no reason. She has been awful to many people. I have no desire to ever see her again. I do occasionally see her mum now. When I had DC1 she bought me a present (which I was really shocked about as we hadn't spoken for years), she split from her DP and he had a lot to do with it saying "we are not going to the wedding" and just threw the invitation in the bin, she could have stood up with him though. We get on now when we see each other but we'll never be close like we were. Too much happened and I got the blame for absolutely nothing. I've never had an apology or an explanation for it.

I do think it's very difficult to completely heal rifts that have gone on for so long. But it could also be that your aunt is afraid of being knocked back if she tried to get in touch, so she hasn't. I didn't know my maternal DGF until I was 10. It's a long story but my mum didn't bring me up. When I was 10 my nan (paternal DGM) got in touch with him to ask if he wanted to see me and he did and always had done, but didn't like to ask because he thought they would say no, so it can work out.

I'd say it's worth a shot but don't get your hopes up of everyone playing happy families again, just in case.

Babyroobs Sun 03-Apr-16 22:10:25

I work with people who are termianlly ill and quite often see estranged families reunited when the patient is dying. Just the other week I had a son sobbing as his dad lay dying, they had been recently reunited after being estranged for 15 years after an arguement . All he could say through his sobs was that he wished he could turn the clock back and get those years back. It was heartbreaking to witness. This is probably an extreme example but life is really too short not to try to heal rifts and make things right. My husbands db and ds have recently fallen out following my fil's death and I really hope they sort things out buthey are both stubborn.

simonettavespucci Sun 03-Apr-16 22:13:18

I don't know OP, but I am fairly sure it only works if you REALLY REALLY want to reconcile more than you want to be right. You're likely to meet with anger from your aunt, particularly if the rift lead to a breakdown, and your cousin - will you be able to deal with that? From what you say it sounds you're still fairly partisan and upset about it all too.

I would think very carefully about what you want to get out of this, and, if you do decide to get in contact, do so with low expectations, so that any degree of reconciliation is a plus.

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