Yesterday I shared about the narrative I had in my head of my littler sister, Kate. (Read Our Narrative of Others Part 1.) It wasn’t a good story, and though at the time I thought I was justified, the story needed to change. In the process, I learned a very profound tactic that I have found tremendously healing in my life: change the narrative, change the relationship.
Then came the tough part, trying to get together with Kate. My little growing game was done totally separate from her, so she may have had a pretty nasty narrative about me in her head (actually, I bet she did). She may have even been fine with never talking with me again. So I showed up at her resort and rented some cabins with my wife and kids. How could she say no? We stayed for a few days.
Yeah. Tense. Lots of eggshell walking and shallow talk. I could read her thoughts through her eyes, “Bring up what you said years ago and I’ll deck you.” She probably read that in my eyes, too.
But by then, I had a different story in my head about Kate. We eventually began to relax. We joked around the campfire. We talked about fishing as she brought me and the kids out on the pontoon. We enjoyed each other’s children and they enjoyed each other (the cousins, really, can care less about the aunt and uncle fights). We stayed for a few days, and after it was all said and done, it was as if we never had the big fall out years before.
There is something very, very important that you must remember: I had no agenda here other than to rebuild our broken relationship. I wasn’t just playing nicey-nicey till things smoothed over to then spring the old arguments on her. I wasn’t even eager to seek resolution about those arguments. By this time in our lives, they were petty, and I had no interest in going there at all.
I believe that’s so important because I see estranged relationships lose all hope because someone wants to keep the old wedge in place. They come to the reunion with an agenda. They take one more stab at showing how they’ve been dealt injustice, how the other person was mean, how such-and-such should be done to rectify the situation, or whatever the case may be. At this point, largely because of the new narrative in my head about Kate, I didn’t care at all to resurrect the old argument.
Love replaced righteousness. I suppose that’s what happened. Or maybe this: our relationship became so much more important than the old argument. Something had to give, and if the old never came to the surface again, so be it. I was fine with that, and so was Kate.
We’ve been back to Kate’s resort every summer since. We’ve never explored the past hurts, and we never felt the need to. I suppose we both just wiped those hurts and pains away and chose not to fret over it any longer. (Much like my hunting buddy Ted did years ago…read that story here.)
This story is nearly a decade old. Today, Kate and I have a great time whenever we get together. Our narratives of each other are much different, and so the relationship is much different. I do this for other relationships, too, replacing judgment for love wherever I can. I hope the same for you.
Check out my sister’s resort page at Birch Haven Resort; my kids are all over the pictures on the site!
Are you estranged from a sibling or relative or old friend because of some argument long ago?