It's Been Awhile

Ok, long story and I'm not going to get into it right now- save that for another day when the whole sordid tale can be told properly. My question now is, what do you say to a blood relative, a sibling, you have had no contact with for more than 30 years? We were teenagers when the family became estranged and we had never been close. Somehow we never sought each other out as the years went by. Too  busy with life I suppose...I don't know.

Anyway, I stumbled onto an email address for this person last week, impulsively took a chance and initiated contact. To my surprise, I got a reply but find I am struggling with where to go from here and wondering if I did the right thing. We are strangers to each other and there are not a lot of good memories from that past. I don't know how to get beyond that. So far our communication has been limited to a few very brief emails (my initial email, the reply and 1 more I sent in response to the reply) and I can sense the uneasiness I am feeling is mutual.

Have I opened a can of worms here? Should I just back off and leave well enough alone? I am at a loss and don't know how to proceed or what to say. I am afraid that I have made a terrible mistake and will end up regretting ever sending that first email.

fasterpussycat fasterpussycat
46-50, F
3 Responses Feb 8, 2009

Thanks for your input gettinby, you are so right when you say life goes on and I can live with that, I have no real regrets but felt that I had to take a chance and reach out. If nothing more comes of it, at least I can say that I honestly made the effort and go on from there.

Our stories do sound very similar SHC and I must say I admire you for being there for your siblings. Sadly, that wasn't an option in my case, I was 17 years old, had a child of my own to care for and was no longer welcome in the family home because of other issues. My sibs were only a year or 2 younger than me but as I said, we were never really close as children, so they had no real interest in me. After I left for good, I'm sure any attempted contact was discouraged. I had long been seen as a bad influence on them and a disappointment to the whole family. It's like I ceased to exist as far as the whole family was concerned.<br />
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Anyhoo, all that was in 1980, a lifetime ago, in more ways than one, life goes on. Fast forward to 2009.<br />
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I heard back on my last email so now the ball is back in my court. My sibling said it was a surprise to hear from me, but not an unpleasant one. I take that to mean he is open to further communication and am grasping to compose a reply. I just don't know where to begin. It was a brief message I got in reply, no real details, but I had shared the knowledge of my daughter in my 2nd email and have now learned that I have a nephew, who is a young adult... Wow, I am still shaking my head over that one!<br />
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My sib travels with his job from what I understand, living part time here, in the town where we grew up, and the rest many thousands of miles away, where he has a home. It sounds like he has been very successful and life has treated him very well. That is about the extent of my information so far and the next move is definitely up to me.<br />
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I am facing the same dilemma as when I first posted, I don't know where to go from here with this. What do I tell this person. There are trust issues-we are communicating thru private messages at another forum- and I have a hard time talking about myself (my sib also feels this way). I am not sure how approving-or disapproving- they will be as far as some of the things I have done in my life. Other than raising 1 child and being in the process of raising another, I have done little other than survive. It took long years of struggling to overcome a narcotic addiction so things were on hold for awhile there. I have been clean for over 15 years but other issues arose preventing me from working for the past few years.<br />
I feel like I have nothing to say and am afraid that the reality of my life will discourage further contact... I mean who needs some one else's problems, especially someone who really is a stranger. I know I did n't fulfill the expectations the family had for me, but I did what I could to live a good life and not hurt anyone (except myself). So how do I reply, what do I say beyond how sorry I am at how things turned out and how hard I am finding this whole thing. It is much more complicated than I had ever expected and am majorly stressing over how to reply.

Thanks for your reply SHC. This person never did anything to hurt me, we were children when we last knew each other and I was the one responsible for the estrangement. The family situation was difficult, there was abuse and alcohol involved-among other things- and I made the choice to remove myself, break all connections and get on with my life. My sibling chose to stay and as a result, we never crossed paths again.<br />
Moving on was not an easy decision to make, but I feel that I had no other options. I always hoped that one day my siblings would seek me out and we would have a chance to know each other as adults. It didn't work out like that though and after so many years alone, with my kids as my only family, I took a chance by reaching out. I know this is hard for both of us and I can't help but feel that my contact was not welcome. If I hear back I will be sure to let them know how awkward and unsure I am feeling about the whole thing, maybe it's not too late.