The memories we have of our lives can be frustrating and incomplete. Life plays out over months and years and decades, but we remember it as moments. We remember high and low points and some seemingly nothing moments, but not always directly the years and pressures that led up to any given period. That’s one of the reasons why estrangements from family members can be so difficult and painful. We often fixate on one incident and have no way of reconciling the years.
When I meet with people how are estranged from a sibling, parent, or child, I find there is usually a precipitating incident that sparked the estrangement. Often, the incident itself is something small and can be overcome, but the feelings behind it are harder to deal with. Still, with the help and support of spiritual advice, it is possible to overcome these feelings and family conflict, and two estranged loved ones can have a bright future together.
The Burden of Estrangement
There are various degrees of estrangement. There are relatives with whom you lose touch for a while, even sometimes siblings. Everyone has busy lives, and time adds a strange sort of entropic momentum. When someone asks, “How come you never see your brother?” a common response is just, “I don’t know—we just never have the time.”
That can be tragic enough as it is, but then there is also the actual conscious decision to cut someone out of your life. Psychology Today estimates that 5% of Americans have a sibling cut entirely from their life, and there are similar (though less reliable) numbers when it comes to parent-child relationships. This severing can be a result of multiple reasons: financial, emotional, or lifestyle. It could be an explosive moment or a lifetime of resentments. Those resentments, though, can fade, and the longing to restore a relationship can come back. It’s hard to know when to make the move, and if it is the right one.
Recently, I met with Roxie, who was dealing with this second type of estrangement. Roxie had a brother, Jorge. Jorge was always hanging with the wrong crowd—a bunch of heavy drinkers who brought out the worst in him. He spent his days sleeping and his nights roughhousing, drinking, and committing minor crimes—vandalism, mostly. Still, Roxie would lend him money, sure he’d eventually get his act together because he kept saying he was going to get a job. But the drinking just kept getting worse, and a couple of times, Jorge and his friends came to Roxie’s place in the middle of the night, hiding from someone.
Finally, one day he was arrested for possession with intent to sell. It turned out he and his friends had been beating up corner dealers, and turning around to sell their drugs. That’s why he had to hide. Roxie didn’t bail him out and decided that she had to cut him out of her life.
The years went by, and now she wanted him back in her life. She’d heard from friends that he’d cleaned himself up (he had just gotten probation and time served, so, thankfully, he wasn’t in prison). But she was scared to take the first step. Would he resent her? Would he hate her? How would they talk? We decided to do a reconciliation reading, which includes cards for three positions—past, present and future. This is more common for lovers, but some of the themes—trust, openness, and forgiveness—underpin any successful kind of relationship.
A Tarot Reconciliation Reading
The first card I drew was the Three of Cups in the past position. This card, with its beautiful collection of three women with golden chalices, indicates happiness at a time in the past, and often, a longing to get back to it. I asked Roxie if she had good memories of Jorge, and she did. They used to be such a happy brother and sister, always making each other laugh. They didn’t even argue about what movies to watch. This card isn’t just a memory, I told her. It could be a sign that there is still enough in the past to make the future worthwhile. She had blocked out the good stuff because the bad stuff was more recent, relevant, and prevalent. But the Three of Cups reminded her that Jorge once brought great joy to her life.
The second card I drew was the Knight of Cups, which often signals inspiration without productivity. In the present position, it can mean something that is long on promise but short on payout. It can indicate that you’re juggling too much and that nothing is working exactly right. This was a little abstract for Roxie, but as we talked it out, it became clearer that she felt guilt about a lot of aspects of her life. She had relationships that didn’t pan out, and she wasn’t feeling productive at work. So, she fixated on the longest shot—her relationship with her brother. This had long odds, but the chance to be the most rewarding. Looking at it from that lens helped Roxie clarify that she had maybe not succeeded in other things, especially romance, due to the lingering guilt she felt for letting her brother down.
Finally, we looked toward the future, and the Three of Wands came up. This was a good sign — among the best. The Three of Wands in the future position means that hope springs eternal and that there is always a chance. It doesn’t guarantee that things will work out — human fate isn’t determined that way—but that Roxie had a direction to go in. We talked about how she wanted to reconcile, and how in the end, that was a great start. She was willing to forgive, to ask his forgiveness, and to go in with an open heart.
Every situation is different, and estranged family members have to ask themselves a lot of questions. The most important one is: “Can you handle rejection again?” Sadly, things don’t always work out. But sometimes they do! Each day we don’t take a chance on reconciliation limits the future, even just slightly. Asking ourselves what we want, and having the courage to respect wherever the answers take us, help us create the future we want.
Are you dealing with estrangement from family members or friends? A Tarot reading from advisors at KEEN.com can help you navigate your way to reconciliation.