5

A little background:

I used to be pretty good friends with a family member, and we rented a house together along with some other family members. I got my first job and things seemed okay until my mental health took quite a turn for the worst. It would be bad enough that after work I couldn't bring myself to go home or want to talk to anyone and couldn't keep my promises to hang out with them. I felt like a total mess 24/7.

My family member became upset and we basically stopped talking. Some of my other family members tried to get answers out of me but that didn’t really help. I decided to send my family member a letter saying I wanted to try and explain myself and we began to exchange emails. I’m not sure if it was that I didn’t explain things very well or something, but they didn’t understand, and I decided to break it off. It felt like I was only hurting them.

I moved out and sought help and am doing much better now. I keep finding myself thinking about them and wanting to try to make up with them, but it's been 2 year.

My question:

How do I tell them I'm sorry and want to try again for the second time after so long?

  • What are you afraid will happen if your apologie isn't "good"? What's wrong with just saying "I'm sorry and I want to try again for the second time"? – Ælis Mar 11 at 19:50
  • I guess I fear being rejected and being told I didn't put enough effort into the first time. – Eve Mar 11 at 23:23
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I would assume that your family knows about your mental healthy issues.

If you really feel that you are prepared to have them close to you, you should try to speak first with the first member that you mentioned, tell her/him that you were in a tough situation and you didn´t know how to handle it, that you are sorry about it and that you will be very happy to have her/him in your life again. Explain your emotions and ASK her/him why they stopped speaking to you. It´s important to clear the issues between you, to know the mistakes that each one made. I think that it would be better if you do it in person, tell her/him if you can meet in some place.

This person, that was the closest to you among your family members, could help you to fix the problems with the other family members, also if she/he was your friend maybe they will understand you more.

In any case, it's better to try now than be sad about it. If you family sees that you are striving to be close to them, they will considerate to be close to you again. If they say that they don´t want to be with you, at least you tried, maybe they need more time but they will know that you love and miss them.

  • I actually haven't explained my mental health issues to anyone else besides my mom. I think the reason they stopped talking to me is because I decided that I couldn't explain myself clearly enough to them after a couple of emails and they only seemed to be getting more frustrated so, I decided it was better to break it off than to feel like I was only continuing to make them more unhappy. – Eve Mar 12 at 13:45
  • I also have a hard talking to people face-to-face (I clam up pretty easily). – Eve Mar 12 at 13:51
  • I see, would it be possible to tell them about your problems? If they know about it would be easier to recover the relation (or at least understand what happened). If it is impossible for you now, maybe you should wait a little more, don´t you think? – Na_Na_Na Mar 13 at 15:13
  • Oh ok, if you don´t feel comfortable speaking face-to-face you could email them, that is always a possibility and you could make a meeting after some time. (I think it would be better in person because both have the possibility of see the expressions and emotions in the other person). @Eve – Na_Na_Na Mar 13 at 15:26
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I'm am sure this has been a difficult process for you. Your decision to withdraw from those you loved had to be hard on you as well as confusing for them.

A wise person once told me the most important thing to aspire to in life was to keep my side of the street clean. They went on to explain the idea of each relationship in life as a neighbor across the street. The entire neighborhood looks great as long as everyone is doing what they can to keep their yard in order. But it's easy to start to let things go and for little things to magnify over time. Maybe we resent that our neighbor isn't mowing their yard as often or picking up their trash and we decide we shouldn't bother with keeping our yard clean. Maybe we've made a huge mess and let it sit long enough for all our neighbors to get upset. The only thing you can control in life is your side of the street.

The good news is, people tend to respond to well when presented with an open and honest apology. If you are at the point where you are willing to offer one along with some amount of background information regarding your past struggles with mental health, you will give yourself the best chance reopening these relationships. While they may not have understood the specifics of your mental health struggles, you indicate they were all impacted by its effects. The more you are willing to share, the more likely you are they will listen to your side of the situation.

Keep in mind, you can only take care of your side of the street. There is a risk they may choose to continue the current state of affairs even after your apology and request to reconnect. It's up to them to decide if they are willing to make that effort.

Whatever the outcome, you should take pride in the fact you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, to acknowledge the hurt you may have caused those closest to you, to ask their forgiveness, and to let them know you understand you are a better person having them as a part of your life. These are very mature, self-aware and honest admission, the foundations of which will serve you well however this turns out. You can let go of any remaining guilt and shame related to events in the past. Most importantly, you will have cleaned up your side of the street.

  • These are great rational guides to think about while contemplating the e-mail, but can you tell me more of why and how the asker should go about emailing the friend? – ElizB Mar 17 at 20:29
  • Be direct, open, and honest. Tell them you miss your time together. Let them know you understand you can't change the past no matter how hard you try or how sorry you are about the hurt you caused. Try not to get hung up on the reasons, it can look like you are making excused and it sounds like you are ready to own the part you played in getting to this point. Assuming you truly mean it, commit to working as hard as you can to make things different going forward should they decide to give you another chance. That's about all you can and need to say. Then it's up to them to decide. – Ethan U. Mar 18 at 21:57
  • 2
    Great reasons why! Can you add that into your answer? Can you also add a little bit more about what you mean by being "direct, open, and honest"? what kinds of words constitute that? Do you have any suggestions of how to outline/structure the e-mail? I hope these questions help develop your answer- you've already got a great start! – ElizB Mar 19 at 0:12

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