Cover image for I thought we'd never speak again : the road from enstrangement to reconciliation
I thought we'd never speak again : the road from enstrangement to reconciliation
Davis, Laura, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxii, 342 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Lake Shore Library HM1121 .D38 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In her classic books The Courage to Heal and Allies in Healing, Laura Davis helped millions cope with the trauma of child sexual abuse. Her supportive guide Becoming the Parent You Want to Be taught parents to create a vision for their families. Now, in I Thought We'd Never Speak Again, she tackles another critical, emerging issue: reconciling relationships sundered by betrayal, anger, and misunderstanding.

With her trademark clarity and compassion, Davis maps the reconciliation process through gripping firstperson stories of people who have reconciled under a wide variety of difficult circumstances. In these pages, parents reconcile with children, embittered siblings reconnect, estranged friends reunite, and war veterans and crime victims meet with their enemies. Davis weaves these powerful accounts with her own experiences reconciling with her mother after a long, painful estrangement.

Making a crucial distinction between reconciliation and forgiveness, Davis explains how people can make peace in relationships without necessarily forgiving past hurts. Step by step, she clarifies the qualities needed for reconciliation-including maturity, discernment, determination, courage, communication, and compassion. To help readers gauge their own readiness, she includes a self-assessment entitled "Are You Ready for Reconciliation?" as well as a special section called "Ideas for Reflection and Discussion."

On each page of this inspiring and instructive book, Laura Davis offers hope and help for reconciliation between individuals, and in the larger human family, sharing essential keys for resolving troubled relationships and finding peace.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Based on interviews with people who have suffered estrangement from friends and families for a variety of reasons, Davis explores the myriad ways people become estranged and find their way back to healthy relationships. Davis doesn't offer easy answers or specific rules for reconciliation, but she lays out the experiences of a wide range of people, their grievances, and their eventual efforts to make peace. The common ingredients she does identify include maturity, discernment, compassion, honesty, and accountability, among others. Davis identifies a continuum of reconciliation, from the deep and transformative to the utilitarian agreement to disagree, and distinguishes between reconciliation and forgiveness. She includes first-person accounts of estrangement caused by family disagreements, as well as accounts of crime victims meeting the perpetrators, war veterans returning to Vietnam, and reconciliation efforts between children of Holocaust survivors and children of Nazis. A fascinating look at how we reconcile our differences. Vanessa Bush.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Families, partnerships and friendships can break up over what appear to be surmountable conflicts, and efforts at damage control are often unproductive. Davis (coauthor, The Courage to Heal), a counselor to survivors of childhood sexual abuse, does an excellent job of mapping out an effective reconciliation process. She explains how to rationally assess the possibility of success, recognize the value of partial reconciliation and establish the rules of engagement. Throughout the book are riveting first-person stories by a neglectful mother who made amends with her grown children, a man who organized a reconciliation workshop between children of Holocaust victims and children of Nazis, and many others that illustrate how compassion, honesty and the ability to listen are indispensable. Davis's book is most useful as a guide to reconciliation with intimates; when she extends the scope to include restorative justice initiatives, the issues become somewhat muddied. The needs of violent crime victims and offenders in mediation programs, for example, don't seem exactly the same as those of feuding families and friends. Without a discussion of those differences, the concepts of reconciliation and forgiveness can be confused with empowerment and revenge. In addition, for crime victims and discrimination victims, the social pressure to "get over it" can be fierce, something Davis touches on only briefly. Nonetheless, her insight, clear writing and especially the extensive personal anecdotes should be helpful to readers struggling with these issues. Agent, Charlotte Raymond. (Apr. 2) Forecast: As the publisher points out, attitudes toward forgiveness have changed since September 11, which could help sales. A pub date coinciding with National Reconciliation Day will facilitate media tie-ins. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Davis is coauthor of The Courage To Heal, a best-selling memoir about surviving childhood sexual abuse. Inspired by her reunion with her estranged family, this exploration of reconciliation features interviews with people who have made amends with others from crime victims and their perpetrators to Israeli and Palestinian girls. Before she sat down to write, Davis sifted through the narratives to see whether she could find the "right" or "best" way to reconcile, but she discovered instead that there are as many ways to do so as there are human beings. So that readers may see how people with deeply held, diametrically opposed beliefs can still come together, Davis also shares the story of her reconciliation with her mother, who continues to believe that her daughter is a victim of False Memory Syndrome. Recommended for all public libraries owing to the depth of the examples and Davis's optimism. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xv
A Special Preface to the First Editionp. xxi
Introduction: The Path of Reconciliationp. 1
Part 1 Preparing the Ground
Chapter 1 Growing Through the Pain: Estrangement, Time, and Maturityp. 11
The Pain of Estrangement
The Roots of Estrangement
One Disappointment at a Time
In Order to Reconcile, the Wound Can't Be Too Fresh
Growing Bitter, Growing Sweet
Life Shapes Us
Rachel Thomas: Flying to My Sister's Side
Death as a Teacher
The Lessons Children Bring
Maturity Allows Us to Embrace Paradox
To Everything, There Is a Season
Chapter 2 Building a Self: The Importance of Autonomyp. 29
The Importance of Boundaries
When Injuries Are Unforgivable
Dana Roper: Returning the Gift He Gave Me
When It's Time to Move On
Kathleen Ryan: When Memories Are Disputed
Establishing Terms of Engagement
The Difference Between Reconciliation and Capitulation
Chapter 3 Finding Clarity: The Task of Discernmentp. 49
What's Happening Now?
What's My Role in This Estrangement?
What's the Bigger Picture?
Bridging the Generation Gap
What Is the Other Person Capable Of?
The Changes Were Going to Have to Happen Inside of Me
What Kind of Person Do I Want to Be?
Sharon Tobin: Choosing Compassion for a Dying Parent
Does This Relationship Warrant Reconciliation?
A Personal Decision
Sara and Tom Brown: Facing a Broken Marriage
Believing That People Can Change
Different Circumstances, Different Choices
How Close Do I Want to Be?
Am I Prepared to Deal with the Outcome?
Elizabeth Menkin: She Owes Us a Life
From Discernment to Action
Part 2 Marshaling Your Strength
Chapter 4 Taking the First Steps: Gathering Couragep. 93
Gary Geiger: Facing the Man Who Shot Me
The Courage to Face Uncertainty
Wendy Richter: Sometimes It's Enough for Things to Be Just a Little Bit Better
Fear Doesn't Have to Stop You
What Am I Afraid Of?
First Steps
Taking the First Step
Slow but Steady Wins the Race
Taking Risks Gradually
The Courage to Face Yourself
Kay Kessler: Growing a New Relationship
The Courage to Change
The Myth of the Cowardly Lion
Chapter 5 Persistence Over Time: The Importance of Determinationp. 122
Being Resolute in Your Goals
Beth Tanzman: I Just Had to Find Him
Responses and Rejoinders
Miriam Gladys: Making Amends to My Children
Seeking Help Where You Can Find It
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Bruce Stevens: Creating Detente in the Family
Expecting the Process to Have Ups and Downs
Deciding to Let Go of the Past
Kate Gillen: Fighting over My Father's Will
Creating a New Future Together
Establishing New Ways to Connect
Bridging Distance, Getting Closer
Honoring Everybody Involved
Spiritual Strength Leads to Determination
Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix: Victims on Both Sides of the Gun
Reconciliation Is a Choice
Part 3 Opening the Heart
Chapter 6 Communication That Furthers Closeness: The Role of Listening and Honestyp. 165
It Was Better Not to Talk About It
Barbara Newman: E-Mailing My Brother After Thirty Years
The Relationship Between Honesty and Discernment
Choosing to Focus on What You Have Now
Mindfulness and Honesty
Paul Howerton: Deciding Not to Talk to My Father
Hearing My Mother's Story
We Needed to Talk About It
Kate Howard: Creating a New History
Learning to Listen
An Opening of Doors
Shawnee Undell: Receiving My Mother's Story
The Marriage of Authenticity and Kindness
Richard Hoffman: Half the House
Another Profound Truth
Melodye Feldman: Bringing Palestinian and Israeli Girls Together
When Honesty Changes the World
Chapter 7 Recognizing Our Shared Humanity: Finding Compassionp. 208
Discernment with Heart
Antonio de la Pena: Washing My Mother's Hair
Compassion Begins with Acceptance
Learning to Live with a Broken Heart
Facing Mistakes with Love
Compassion Comes from a Place of Wholeness
Sometimes Just a Little Is Enough
Compassion as a Choice
Marc Levy: Understanding "The Sorrow of War"
Bringing Together the Ultimate Enemies
Armand Volkas: Bringing Together Children of Holocaust Survivors and Children of Nazis
The Road from Revenge to Compassion: Six Steps That Can Change Enemies into Allies
This Work Is About the Future
Acts of Reconciliation: A Sharing of Poetry
Compassion Moves Out into the World
Part 4 Making Amends
Chapter 8 Taking Responsibility: The Role of Humility and Accountabilityp. 243
The Price of Pride
Acknowledging Your Own Weaknesses
Taking Stock, Looking Within
Celia Sommer: Letting Go of Being Wronged
Learning to Apologize
The Role of Remorse and Respect
From Apology to Action
Pete Salmansohn: Choosing to Get Close Again
The Accountability Continuum
The Courage to Admit a Wrong
Franklin Carter: A Violent Man Changes His Life
The Healing Power of Accountability
Accountability Leads to Self-Respect
Chapter 9 The Question of Forgivenessp. 265
Forgiveness as Something You Work At
Forgiveness as a Spiritual Gift
Forgiveness as Something That Requires Accountability
Rabbi Steven Fink: Responding Compassionately to Hate
Forgiveness as Something That Happens Unilaterally
The Trouble with Pseudo-Forgiveness
Resolution Is Possible Without Forgiveness
Vicki Malloy: Rebuilding a Relationship with My Perpetrator
Are Some Things Unforgivable?
A Personal Decision
Part 5 Finding Peace
Chapter 10 When Reconciliation Is Impossible: The Task of Letting Gop. 295
Accepting That the Relationship Is Over
Letting Go When You Don't Know Why the Relationship Ended
Peggy O'Neill: It's in Her Hands Now
Letting Go Is a Process
Helen Meyers: I Can't Force Him to Open the Door
Leaving the Porch Light On
Pam Leeds: Compassion from Afar
The Opposite of Estrangement
Chapter 11 When We Meet Again: The Benefits of Reconciliationp. 311
Enjoying the Pleasures of Recovered Love
Reweaving the Web of Community
Reconciliation Leads to Peace
Reconciliation Rekindles Optimism
A Deep Sense of Peace
Free Reconciliation Newsletterp. 318
Appendix A Are You Ready for Reconciliation?p. 319
Appendix B Ideas for Reflection and Discussionp. 323
Indexp. 333

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