Providing Counselling (Palm Beach) I am often reminded when walking along Palm Beach how important family is and how painful family estrangement can be. In a nutshell, family estrangement is when at least two family members turn away from, alienate or keep at a distance from each other. They are generally no longer on friendly terms and at least one of the family members found the relationship unsatisfactory or too painful to continue. Whether you are on the receiving end of estrangement or the one who instigates the distancing, estrangement often leaves a feeling of unfinished business like a wound that never heals.
Family bonds begin when we are born and continue through our most impressionable years. Our early dependence on our caregivers and other family members grows into strong emotional attachments. When there is persistent unresolved conflict or disappointment leading to estrangement this feeling or sense of emotional attachment often will exist long after the relationship has broken down. To belong and be included is a basic need and it does not go away, even when we are able to look after ourselves. Some people have described their own experience of family estrangement as living with a phantom limb. That is, when the sensation of the limb (often painful sensation) persist long after the amputated or missing limb. This excellent analogy shows the depth of difficulty often experienced by those trying to make peace with family estrangement.
Another reason the difficulty of family estrangement often persists is due to the common triggers that reopen old wounds and spike even dormant estrangement pain. For instance, being around another family member can highlight one’s own exclusion. Family celebrations like birthdays and the holiday season also provide a constant reminder of the continuing emotional loss, sense of failure, humiliation, shame from rejection, guilt or unresolved feelings. These reminders or triggers reignite the wound of estrangement allowing it to fester as unfinished business.
Silence is also a contributing factor to ongoing suffering around family estrangement. No-one likes to talk about their experience for fear of being judged or stigmatised by others. This silence can create a feeling of isolation and loneliness especially around the holiday season.
Family estrangement affects all family members and can go on to create an intergenerational rift that can persist for years and maybe even replicate itself in subsequent generations.
This does not need to be the way. Often as a Gestalt therapist providing Counselling (Palm Beach) area I have found that family estrangement occurs for various reasons, ranging from difficulty maintaining relationships due to interpersonal challenges, differing values and beliefs, intolerance, disappointment, major life events, change, or poor communication. I have found that when clients begin to make meaning around what happened, how it happened and what they may have done or not done to contribute to the estrangement, understanding emerges and a greater sense of how to move forward into reconciliation or acceptance of what is becomes evident.
If you are estranged from your family and you are experiencing difficulty from the loss, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out and speak to people you trust or seek professional counselling in Palm Beach.
Family estrangement is more common than you think.
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