Last week I discussed the negative effects of emotional cutoff and how to repair a relationship that’s been cut off. But what if you’re the person who inexplicably hasn’t heard from your cousin or close neighbor after a heated discussion a couple months ago?
Although it’s easier said than done; give them time. They need time to work through their feelings and prepare for an effective apology.
But if you haven’t heard from them for months and believe that you will not be receiving that apology, you can attempt to begin that conversation. In most cases, emotional cutoff in family and near-family (e.g., family friends) systems is damaging to your mental health, so you may want to tie up this loose end sooner rather than later.
Before you have that conversation, there are several things you must check off your to-do list. First, make sure that you are in a good headspace by exercising self-care.
Preparation: Come to Terms with the Possibilities
Before you have that conversation, you need to prepare for the possible outcomes.
You must feel as “at peace” as you can with the possibility that the person in question will not repair or rebuild the relationship. Think about how that loss will make you feel and what it would look like. More importantly, think about how you will move on from it and how you will grow and learn from it. Use these techniques to gauge your feelings and thoughts.
Recognize that even if the person is willing to repair and rebuild your relationship, the relationship may be different than it was before. One or both of you may want to set boundaries. And certain communication channels may no longer be open. While these changes are difficult, they’re healthy and normal.
You may receive an apology but no relationship. Or the person may be open to a relationship but is not willing to give an apology. Recognize how these possibilities will make you feel, make sure that you have come to terms with them as much as you can, and prepare responses to these potential scenarios.
I would suggest giving the person a call. Text or email are too impersonal for such a heavy conversation. And if the person cut you off, there’s a very strong chance that they will not be comfortable with an in-person conversation.
If the person picks up, ask them how they are doing. When they ask you how you’re doing in return, say something like:
“I miss you. I recognize that I [concede something you may have done to contribute to the ill-feelings leading to your falling out], and I know that I was in the wrong. At the same time, I’ve been feeling really hurt about how you ______ and subsequently cut me off.”
Leave the conversation open for them to respond.
If you’re leaving a voicemail, consider leaving a message that is similar to the quote above, and add to the end, “I’d love to talk about everything and work it all out. Please give me a call back when you’re ready.” If it’s been a week or two and you haven’t heard back, try calling and leaving another message or sending a followup text.
Do not follow up more than once. This will bring you more pain and disappointment. And it will frustrate the other person in a way that may make them less open to repairing the relationship further down the road.
If you talked things out and you’re both open to repairing your relationship, be sure to talk about what that relationship looks like. Set boundaries that will keep you happy and the relationship healthy. Boundaries are a great way to prevent cutoff.
If you will not be having a relationship with this person after the conversation or if they never called you back, even after the follow up, take care of yourself. Emotional cutoff is hard and stirs up some of the worst feelings inside of us.
If you find that the loss and resulting pain is something that you’re obsessing over, consider seeing a therapist. This new loss may bring out the pain of a deeper, unprocessed loss. And therapy is a great resource for managing and resolving that pain.
These are some of the most difficult conversations. However, I believe in you and your abilities. You can do this and I am cheering you on!