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Building a New Relationship with a Parent

On your question about what it means to clean up an old relationship, probably it’s more accurate to say that you build a new relationship that is rational.

To reach out in the old way is to open yourself up to more hurt. However, it won’t hurt you to reach out in your newfound strength as a counselor who recognizes that all the cursing and unpleasantness and lack-of-reality you get from your mother is simply distress—that underneath it she is a dear human being who always did the best she could and whom you would certainly attempt to rescue if you didn’t have this bad background with her. You can say, “I love you,” if you think you are saying it to the person instead of the pattern. You may have to do just that, and I think it’s worth doing before she dies.

What should a rational relationship be with someone like that? Doing what you can to help the human surface again and know that she’s not alone, that someone cares about her—at least before she dies, if you aren’t able to do enough to interrupt the plunge toward death.

Harvey Jackins
From a letter written in 1974

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00