The subject of reconciliation has been on my mind and in my dreams for a couple of weeks.

It has been an enchantingly romantic idea of my inner child that every relationship (familial, intimate, friends) and hurt can, and will, be reconciled, if you love each other and try hard enough. Of course life’s experience has proven that idea to be mostly unrealistic. 

Humans often prefer to gloss things over or fall into unhealthy bonded patterns of attempts of resolving it (aka fighting) without truly confronting the underlying issues and bringing about a true resolution that growth all parties. 

To effectively reconcile and heal a relationship takes more than forgiveness, which in itself is challenging enough, all parties need to drop their judgements, self-righteousness or self-deprecation, blaming or shaming, and find constructive ways of communicating and healing the dynamics, misunderstandings, hurts, and pain underlying it. Repairing the damage done to our trust and the relationship takes unflinching honesty with self and other, a capacity of confronting and owning our part in the dynamics that had part in the demise and the dedication to see the process through to its end without giving in to the egoic games of resistance and deflection. Otherwise resentments and dysfunctionalities will linger or worse fester in the underbelly of the relationship only to explode and cause more damage down the road.

Most of us say we want to work things out, and we probably do on a conscious level, yet in our subconscious we rarely wish to get too close to our shadow, wounds and mistaken beliefs that need to be addressed to truly do so. And so while we say one thing we will unconsciously, yet clearly, signal the other in our wording, actions or lack thereof that we are not fully committed to reconciling but slyly sidestepping it. Hello shadow play.

In my experience humans tend to act cowardly or aggressively when their actions or experiences have triggered deeply embedded patterns of shame or guilt. We would rather avoid, deny or rather gloss over whatever triggered those feelings than have to feel the pain of facing them. We try to bargain, deflect, distract or delude ourselves and others instead and thereby block the pathway to true reconciliation and freedom.

With all that said I am not generally averse to the idea and reality of reconciliation, awareness of its scope and cost does not make me shrink back from it, to the contrary. I am willing and committed to work on repairing my relationships and invest my time, energy and effort into those who are dear to me. And thankfully in closer relationships or with smaller issues it has become easier for me to overcome the resistances within to address and repair where damage has happened. Easier, not easy, mind you! 

When it comes to reconciling relationships that ended my few attempts at reconciliation were not very successful for lack of tools or lack of equal investment of the other. Which definitely added to the resistance and unwillingness I feel at the thought of it.

Observing the effects of trauma has taught me that ongoing unresolved and unaddressable issues in relationships put me in an intensifying state of stress and anxiety which eventually floods my system rendering it nigh impossible to attend to life in the way I want to. In my self love I chose to walk away from situations and relationships where resolution is not attenable and reclaim peace. Therefore I am extra cautious and wary of taking back people with whom I had such an experience.

Though my feelings towards reconciliations are rather reserved in view of the above there are a couple of connections and people from my past I would be open to reconcile with on some conditions. As I keep saying for nigh two decades my love may be unconditional but my relating is not. I am open to my relating evolving and being unconditional one day yet until then I shall honor my boundaries and conditions.

If someone came to me with a wish to reconcile I would surely listen to them, accept or give an apology, intuit their honesty and capacity to put in the necessary work, reflect on the value the relationship once held for me, feel into what the person means to me now and then decide if I choose to put my effort, time and energy into reconciliatory work. This is my choice, and my choice alone. The other cannot try to cajole, convince or negotiate in this otherwise they are expressing their disregard for my sovereignty. 

We either have a mutual, passionate and committed YES or all else will spell a NO in my book.

I give myself full permission to say lovingly no to an offer of reconciliation without any explanations or justifications and I honor and champion everyone else’s right to do the same. 

Photography: Jean Pierre Karenzi & Viviane Nyiramana by Pieter Hugo “Portraits of Reconciliation”
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