And Never Talk to Me Again! Handling Emotional Cut-Offs
Henry and Marie, both in their late 50’s, are devastated. They had just come back from visiting their 33 year-old daughter, Sara, and her family. They had done the good grandparent thing – attended their grandson’s birthday party, brought gifts – had, they thought, a great time. Now, only a couple of weeks later, and seemingly out of the blue, they have received this caustic email from Sara. She had been thinking about an off-handed comment that Henry had made, and that apparently led to her mulling over a lot of things about her childhood and past relationship with her parents. Finally, at the end she says in bold type, “And never talk to me again!”
Ellen and Teresa would both admit that they had never been extremely close as sisters and have had their ups and downs over the years. Both have been busy with their own careers, relationships and the most they have been able to muster is a catch-up email every couple of weeks. But then their grandmother died and in her will she left more money to Ellen than Teresa. Understandably this stirred some hurt feelings but also inadvertently opened old long-standing wounds of jealousy, favoritism, unfairness between the sisters. They haven’t talked in months and there is no sign of a thaw.
Cut-offs, estrangement. It’s not just the stuff of Godfather movies (“You’re dead to me”) but unfortunately the stuff of millions of relationships. What is going here? A couple of things: