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Are You Ready to Reconnect With Someone From Your Past?

Why doing nothing can be worse than taking a risk.

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Some painful stuff went down between you and someone who once held great meaning in your life. It reached a point where the only option left was to sever the connection. But as time has passed, you've become increasingly aware that the amazing moments you shared with this person are part of who you are, part of your identity, forever in your heart.

On the one hand, the rupture that split you is just too much to overcome. On the other, it was an important relationship to you. Being able to understand even painful memories through the ever-widening lens of how they have impacted your life as a whole is vital to helping you decide whether to try to repair or continue to let go of that ruptured relationship.

When you look back with regret, or with a secret longing to reconnect, you are remembering the relationship before the rupture, and recognizing all that it gave you. But now it may feel impossible to imagine that the relationship could be repaired—partly because you might feel pressured to recreate it exactly as it was before, as fast as you can. If you think about repair that way, it seems so daunting, so emotionally burdensome, that it prevents you from considering the simplicity of just saying, "Hello."

Of course, there are relationships better left behind. If you were treated badly, and it took everything you had to find your way out, of course it’s best to keep that break final. But if it's more nuanced than that—if at the core of the conflict were miscommunications or the kind of mistakes that people make during the course of our mistake-filled lives—you may now find yourself less invested in maintaining disconnection.

With some people in your past, even though you’ve tried to make peace with letting go, it remains painfully unresolved.

When you’ve been betrayed, or there has been extreme conflict, it can feel in the moment like the absolute, unequivocal end of the line. It had to be that way, due to what you felt and experienced then. Even thinking about the rift now can still evoke feelings of anger, shame, and betrayal, which makes the conflict—between wanting to let go for good and not being able to—even more confusing. The emotions you felt and may still feel toward the person due to the rupture are different than the emotions you felt during the course of the relationship, when meaningful, impactful memories were formed.

Acknowledging the importance of a past relationship in your life and then consciously deciding to leave it in the past or work toward repairing it is empowering. However, longing to reconnect and not doing anything about it can leave you feeling stuck, frustrated, and unresolved. That experience can infect your current relationships and leave you feeling as if you have emotional jagged edges. 

It’s okay to work on letting go of your anger if your feelings of missing the person are drowning out the rationale for staying angry at him or her. Life happens over a span of time. Things that seem “final” at one point may prove to be more fluid than you could have known then.

There is always room to change your mind and introduce the possibility of reconnecting.

Even if the relationship proves irreparable, the act of trying to repair it may still be a way of getting relief from feeling stuck and unresolved. If the person rejects your efforts to re-engage, just having tried to make a repair when the experience felt so unresolved can aid your own process of letting go.

In the end, feeling better is not necessarily about successfully reuniting; it’s about opening yourself up to letting go of the betrayal and shame you may have experienced as a result of the rupture. The act of reaching out itself that is reparative. You can’t control how your attempt at reconciliation will be received, but the fact that you reached out can assuage the tension that has built within you, and is important to the reparative process as a whole.



Twitter: @DrSuzanneL

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Instagram: @DrSuzanneL

Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist in NYC specializing in psychotherapy.

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