Here’s the deal: My brother and sister-in-law cut off my entire family right after they were married. When we asked them what we had done/what we could do to reconcile, they said, “You know what you did, and you have to apologize.”
My parents said that they were truly sorry, but they weren’t clear on how we all went wrong. Their response: “Then your apology doesn’t count. You can’t apologize until you apologize for what you did.”
It’s confusing and hurtful, to say the least. But we’ve all been left with self-esteem issues, too — worried that we’re capable of causing incredible damage to our loved ones, without even knowing it.
I suppose there’s not much to be done, other than to discuss it amongst ourselves and go to therapy. But if anybody has a great idea for helping us make peace when you don’t know what you did wrong, I’d definitely appreciate it. -Dentata
We have talked so much about working with dealing with difficult family members, ending relationships with difficult family members, and repairing relationships with family members. But what if you’re on the other end? But what if YOU are the one someone’s been reading and writing all those articles about? Let’s talk about how to be the best difficult family member you can be!
I think this is the key statement from your question: “We’re worried that we’re capable of causing incredible damage to our loved ones, without even knowing it.”
Maybe if you appeal to them with that issue it might (for lack of a better phrase) help them help you?
Maybe you could reach out to them and say something like this:
I recognize I may have damaged things irreparably with you, but I hope you can give me feedback so that I can learn from the pain I caused you and make an effort not to inadvertently do it again — either to you, or to anyone else.
I have NO expectation that you’ll accept me back into your life, if that’s not something you’re prepared to do. But I’d love for this to be a learning experience for myself. If you could help me learn from this, I would appreciate it. Though I totally understand if you don’t want to.
Other than that, I don’t really have any more advice other than what you already said: therapy and supporting each other.
What are your pieces of advice for what to do when you don’t know what you did wrong?