This takes effort, patience, and like @polly mentioned: experimentation. If something doesn’t work, don’t keep trying to force that one thing. Instead, think of other ways to encourage connection that could be helpful! In addition, I like what @Dean_Acton mentioned about coming from a place of understanding, asking questions, and listening to our loved ones as a way to facilitate trust and encourage connection! We can all be a little socially awkward at times, I like to try and use that to my advantage: push through it and be awkward but embrace it and allow it to evolve into humor, or even shared feelings of awkwardness with others!
When my brother moved back to NYC, my parents wanted to distance themselves from him due to a history of his trips home being stressful. @katie, this was a moment in which I engaged the support of others to connect with my brother. I sat my parents down in a public place (to avoid any yelling or outbursts - specifically a hair salon ) and let them know how much positive change I had noticed in my brother, and despite the years and years of bad history, that things felt different now. I didn’t ask anything of them in that moment other than to take what I had to say about him and go home and speak on their own about letting him in a little more. This is an example of me experimenting too - I had never tried to communicate with my family in this way to support my brother. Later that night my brother told me he received a text from our parents saying they loved him, supported him, and would always be there for him no matter what.
Just as we have this wonderful community at Village, I’ve encouraged my brother to find his own place, separate from me, to connect with people he can relate to. My brother is now three years away from his last use of heroin and to this day if he isolates he feels worse, more depressed, more detached. But as soon as he pulls himself out of it, or as a family we work to snap him out of it, he’s back to feeling motivate and excited by life every day! Substance use or not, as human beings we need connection, and by being a supportive family member and modeling healthy connection, I hope it shows my brother and others how incredibly amazing it is to feel part of and know they are never ever alone!