Huffington Post Articles on Estrangement

After writing the previous post I went back and read Katie Naum's post on Mother's Day Cards again. Noticing the subject tags listed with the post, I clicked one of them, the "Estrangement" one. That brought up a list of posts on the subject, including two written in 2014 by Katie Naum that gave some background to her estrangement from her mother. Which explains a lot about her post on Mother's Day Cards.

I understand more now. In fact, under the circumstances that she describes, perhaps she was too kind. I don't know. But I still would want to suggest thinking of her Card suggestions as if they were written by a mother rather than a daughter. Because I look for opportunities to think of situations in different ways. That was what I tried to do previously in talking about the baggage that we all carry and how wrong we can be sometimes.

Here are the links to Katie Naum's posts written in 2014 about her decision to estrange her mother:

Motherless by Choice by Katie Naum, writer, blogger, memoirist. June 2, 2014 (plus a video below the text of the article)

Why Did This Happen? Estranging Myself From My Mother by Katie Naum, writer, blogger, memoirist. June 30, 2014 on Huffington Post.

The following link is a search link that brings up posts on Huffington Post, including those linked above, on the subject of Estrangement:
Search of Huffington Post for posts on the subject of Estrangement

 


May 9, 2015 Keyword search: “Mother’s Day” & “Estrangement”

The following four links are the result of an internet search using keywords: "Mother's Day" and "Estrangement". The links are to articles recently posted and to articles that didn't have those annoying popups that appear all too often these days.


Note: To get a different perspective on Katie Naum's “Cards”, try the following changes and then read them again while imagining that they were written by a mother. I have numbered Naum’s “Cards” from 1 to 11.
In #1 change the wording to:
“Thank You For Living In My Womb and Being Born. (inside) That Part Went Pretty Well From My Perspective.”
Read #s 2 through 9 unchanged but as if written by a mother.
In #10 substitute the word “Mother” in the place of “Daughter”.
In #11 substitute the word “Daughter” in the place of “Mother”.

My request to look at the “Cards” as though written by a mother instead of a daughter is to bring a different perspective to what was written. I am not making a judgement. I am asking the question: If a mother had written those “Cards”, what would that say about the Mother? If the answer is different from what it says to you about the daughter who wrote them, why would that be so?

 


Is your Estranged one a professional diagnostician in their own mind?

A common experience that is talked about in a lot of groups where family estrangement is discussed is the one of being labeled with a pathological condition by the person from whom you are estranged. With their only qualifications being that they are related to you and that they knew you once upon a time, they diagnose you as being something that is generally thought to be pretty horrible. While there are people who do deserve those labels, there are a whole lot of people who do not.

I am not going to argue with anyone about the fact that there are people who are not objective about their relatives and who don't know what they are talking about when they malign them. It happens far too often. When the person maligned does not deserve what is being said about them, this behavior is abusive.

I found a very good discussion on this experience that I am linking to here:

How to deal with exaggerated claims by EC (thread begun on March 20, 2015)

 


Online memoir by a daughter of a mother "erased" by PAS

It is rare to see an account of the experience of Parental Alienation Syndrome given from the perspective of the child. This link is to an online memoir by the child, now grown up, and writing about her experience. Her descriptions of events as she remembers them are riveting.

Mother Erased: a memoir written by an alienated daughter.

 


A blog written by a grandmother denied access to her grandchildren

A mother and grandmother who posts on her own blog about family estrangement and the loss of relationships with her son and grandchildren wrote to me this week. She sent me a link to her blog for inclusion here.

I took a look and like her writing so much that I am happy to provide a link to her blog here: Family Estrangements: When grandparents are denied access to their grandchildren and have added it to the Links Page on my Estrangements.com site too.

 


New Link: Rejectedparents.net - a website for parents suffering estrangement

I found a website, rejectedparents.net, that was created in 2013 to offer support and information to parents who have been rejected by their adult children. It includes a discussion group for estranged parents.

Here's the link:

Parents of Estranged Adult Children: Help and Healing
When Adult Children are Estranged: Support and Information

 


Slate staff writer Katy Waldman's article on Narcissism: Link

Are you a Narcissist? by Slate staff writer Katy Waldman, August 2014

If you’re new to being estranged and to online discussions of the condition, you might not have experienced the word Narcissistic (with a capital N in the context of Narcissistic Personality Disorder) occurring frequently in discussions of family estrangement. If you are a longtime survivor of family estrangements, it would be hard to imagine that you have not encountered those two conditions, Narcissism and Estrangement, being mentioned as related to each other. Parents are labeled as having (or being) NPD. Kids are labeled as having (or being) NPD. It seems some days that just about anyone who gets up in the morning and thinks or says anything positive or negative about themselves must have NPD according to someone who has estranged them or is estranged by them.

Parents and adult kids in online discussion groups report being accused of pathological narcissism. Parents and adult kids regularly diagnose their respective adult kids and parents as having NPD. There are groups set up just to discuss the narcissism of parents. Oddly, since it seems that the condition of pathological narcissism would not be restricted only to those who see themselves as offspring but could be suffered by anyone, parent or adult child, there are no groups set up by and for parents specifically to discuss their experience of having offspring who are pathologically narcissistic. The reasons for that are open to speculation.

Anyway, what brings me to my blog this morning is an article that I read online about NPD by Slate staff writer Katy Waldman that I thought was worth adding a link here. She mentions a number of points that have occurred to me over the years of reading about the personality disorder of NPD and she includes links to other references on the subject too. Considering this subject is one that comes up so very frequently in relation to the condition of family estrangement, I thought it was a very appropriate and worthwhile link to share here.

Are you a Narcissist? by Slate staff writer Katy Waldman, August 2014


Baggage, baggage, and more baggage

I've been thinking a lot lately about the baggage that people carry and how people interpret who and what other people are. The series of posts I wrote about Being Wrong were motivated by my desire to get through to those who believe they are right no matter what, no matter if there is evidence that they may not be as right as they think they are. I've addressed this issue of baggage in years past and have made a permanent page link, to one post (written in May 2007) titled "On Baggage" in the left side bar.

I think that we all carry baggage but I think that when we are aware of our own baggage and our own limitations and history, we might become less likely to be so sure that we are right all of the time. If we are wrong less of the time, I can't help but think that would be a good thing. However, I am aware of my own limitations in getting this point across to strangers. So I have to accept that -- my limitations.

I have seen that there are some who have not figured out what I was trying to communicate with my posts on Being Wrong. I was trying to write on the topic without being more specific as to who or what inspired me to write as what I wanted to communicate was meant for many, not for a specific person or persons, even if the topic was motivated by the actions of a small number of people. I did not want them to feel singled out. And they are not the only ones who do the kinds of things they have done. I accept that I may not get through to anyone who believes that they are always right and that they always do the right thing even while they are being abusive.

As a result of what I have been seeing and thinking about lately, I offer the following links to the wisdom of others. I am posting the links and my reasons for offering each link.

1. I offer this link to the Shrinking Woman video because the poet addresses the issues of how women so often feel as though they must be smaller and smaller and smaller, both physically and in terms of behavior, rather than be large and make waves or complain or argue or do anything that men do. When men talk about what concerns them and make waves and stand up for themselves and share their experiences, they are seen as strong and brave. Women who do the same things are typically criticized, insulted, demeaned and called names. They are treated this way not only by men but also by women, especially by women.

2. I offer this link to a post on a blog that belongs to Danielle LaPorte because I have been told that it would be better for me to delete my blog. That I would be a happier healthier person if I deleted my blog. The reason why I have this blog is because I thought it would be appreciated by others who were experiencing estrangement to know that they were not alone in this experience. I shared my experience, not because I enjoy talking about being estranged and need to put myself out there, but because I believe that there are others like me and that they may feel alone in having this experience. When I started the website and blog there weren't the number of places online where there was information about family estrangement and there were no blogs where anyone was talking about the experience.


Yes, I could take the blog down. I have been tempted to do that but I have not given in to the temptation. I still think that the information here including my sharing of my own experience could be of help to someone. It costs me little to let it stay up. I do let my living my life take priority these days and rarely have anything to add.

3. I offer this link, Karma - Insults, which is from the blog, Quotes About Living from Doe Zantamata's "Happiness in your life" book series. I offer this link because of the baggage that causes others to do things like offer their amateur diagnoses of the people from whom they are estranged. Not everyone does this. Some people do have the opinions of mental health professionals as to what is wrong with their relative. For example, my mother really was mentally ill. She saw psychiatrists for almost sixty years and was in and out of psych wards.

4. I offer this link, Karma - Allowing change, from the same series because I believe that Zantamata offers a great truth in that quote.

5. I offer this link, Karma - Expectations, also from the Zantamata Quotes About Living, because it gives an explanation why some people find it so hard to trust that someone else doesn't have some evil agenda for why they do anything nice. Not all estranged parents and not all estranged children are people with personality disorders.

Many estranged parents and many estranged adult children are pretty much nice normal people who would be kicked out of any therapist's office in short order because they don't have anything sufficiently wrong with them for the therapist to help to resolve. And many of those who wouldn't be kicked out of a therapist's office don't have a whole lot seriously wrong with them either.

If someone can't believe that someone is a nice person no matter how nice they are, then it says more about the person who wants to believe bad things than it does about the person who is being maligned. It might not say bad things about the person who is believing untrue things but it does say something about them.

Someone can be a good person and still believe untruths. This is what inspired me to write about Being Wrong. Because I believe that many good people believe bad things about other good people who don't deserve being so maligned. After all, it is said that you have to demonize someone before you can hate them. It's a lot harder to dislike and hate someone who really is a nice enough person. So, to estrange them successfully, it helps to demonize, demonize, demonize!!

I recognize that I likely have not made much headway in making that point about baggage. I hope that somewhere out there my point is clear to someone. Or if not now, some day perhaps.

Ginny


Family estrangement in photographs

Mother_scratched_out
I am reading estrangement into the action taken on old photographs.

They say a photograph is worth 1,000 words.

The photo above is a carte de visite (cdv) from the early 1870's. The mother's face was scratched out in the negative prior to the image being printed. It would have been scratched out by the photographer himself. Perhaps she was his wife whose face he never wanted to see again. The photo becomes an iconic image of estrangement.

I imagine that she was once loved and that the person who had loved her must have been the same person who scratched her face out of the negative before printing what may have been the only image of their child. (Why else would someone print an image that they had damaged in tis way?)

Here's another one, a tintype from the 1860's to 1870's. Like the cdv, the mother's face was scratched out by the person who made the tintype.
Mother_scratched_out_2
I doubt that they were able to forget the person with as much success as they removed their faces from the photographs.

Ginny


How do you know if you're getting better?

When does recovery occur? When do you get over a serious loss?

Some things you never "get over" but you can heal. It is possible for life to go on. You know you're getting better when you make better choices. As described in the poem below.

The poem is from There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery by Portia Nelson.

Hole_in_street2

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.


Guest Post: Life As We Know It Now

My husband and I are the parents of two estranged adult children. I consider us both survivors and warriors of a war that had lasted a very long time. We had put up with this serial estrangement - this on-again, off-again bullshit for almost 38 years - so long, in fact we didn't know which end was up anymore.  

These are the biological children of my husband and my stepchildren. Our ED and ES are both in their 50’s. Our youngest daughter had passed away 5 years ago at the age of 44. Our granddaughter – the self-absorbed daughter of our ED is 23. She is very bright but, having been schooled at the knee of her mother, she is as indifferent to us as our daughter is. Needless to say, she has learned well. Our grandson is about 11 now, and since our son stopped talking to us 6 years ago without any explanation, we haven't seen him in 6 years (except for at the funeral) And so we can say most assuredly that we don’t know him at all.

I guess my husband and I have come from a place where there has been much trouble and pain and so few rewards. Over the past years, we tried and tried to make it work with our EC, however our efforts were usually met with disdain and indifference under the gloss of their duplicitous superficiality. Fueled by the parental alienation of their quasi-psychotic biological mother, these children maintained almost an obsessive attachment to her while they treated their father like the next door neighbor – all the while denying that they favored “MOMMY”.

What has always perplexed me is if these children really didn't want a relationship with us - all they had to do was say so. But our EC generated all this fake we love you, we're a family stuff, while under the surface, there was such terrible unhappiness. And while it never really ever surfaced, it did morph into some very dysfunctional behavior that went on and on for almost 40 years! It was such a complicated dicotomy that left us confused and unbalanced most of the time.

It was difficult (impossible really), for us not to place blame. We had been betrayed, lied to, fooled into thinking that these people loved us and yet treated us so cruelly. We simply could not forgive or forget this kind of treatment - we simply are not wired that way.

Our ED always talked about wanting us to forget the past - sure - why wouldn't she? She basically created all the chaos and problems - and then, when things calmed down and we tried to forget, she'd create even more. To have continued to forget about what happened would only benefit her. The cousin to this particular narcissistic behavior is avoiding talk about "blame". Of course! With no accountability, this dysfunction and misbehavior could continue indefinitely. We felt that our EC’s past behavior was our window into their future behavior – unfortunately, it turned out that we were too right.

Several years ago, we were tired of being endlessly jerked around by our ED, and so I wrote her a letter which outlined the nearly 4 decades of mistreatment and hurt that she and her brother had visited upon us. In it, I also told her we no longer could deal with the way things were and that things really needed to change. She replied – how our inability to forget the “past” would render us utterly alone and asked us not to contact her again. This was just fine with us - as we were not looking continue the duplicitous and highly superficial nature of our relationship with her. Dumping all of them - and all the drama that went with them, was actually a total relief. Life just seems so much better without all that anxiety and pain.

Whenever we would have yet another altracation with our children - a thought was always in the back of my mind - who would be there to help my husband if something happened to me? How could we depend on them to help us out when they blinsided and manipulated us at every turn.. Here was the potential for the ultimate victimization or the ultimate abandonment. It was a nagging premonition of the future - a future I just could not picture with them in it.

My husband is 76 and I am 61 this year - we are both in excellent health and, hopefully, we will both die simultaneously in our sleep! But sometimes - at night - before I go to sleep - the thought would occasionally cross my mind - What If......Who would my husband turn to? If his own children don't respect him now, what would happen if he became sick - if he was frail and helpless. Who would protect him from them?

Our nephews turned out to be our new heroes - my brother’s children - are 38, 36 and 34 years and they are fine young men - each and every one of them. We are quite proud of them and we named the 2 living closer to us our DPAs for finance and health. (The oldest lives in Las Vegas and I didn't think it would be convenient for him).

These are men who get along with one another and with their parents and who cannot really grasp the concept that our children would disrespect us – especially their biological dad. You can just tell that they love and respect their family and they are happy and well-adjusted. They weren't evasive and snide or sarcastic. They are open and honest and straightforward. They are real men.

The comparison is so glaringly obvious - it made me sort of sad (and angry) to think that our own children - at least 14 - 16 years older then my nephews, have been such disappointments and so unreliable. It was really disheartening to realize that if my husband or myself were left all alone and too sick to do for ourselves, we had to resort to bothering our nephews to help us out. But when I asked them, they both just said - "anything you need Auntie." It felt great and by terminating our relationship with our EC, we were able to rest assured that there was no longer the threat of predators – they will never know if there was a problem or if we were dead.

I do believe that, over the years we have learned a lot about our children. We learned that they lied, manipulated, cheated and betrayed us many many times – without any conscience at all. We learned that their duplicity was unending. And we learned that they visited these traits on their own children to create a new generation of ill-mannered, indifferent, obnoxious know-it-alls who have little interest in anything but themselves.

Yes, we learned our lesson well but now, we simply chose to NOT learn anymore. I know that honest and loving relationships should never have to end. What my husband and I had wasn’t a family – it was a delusion. We believe that a family is FOREVER - it simply has to be - because of the very nature of its make up and because of it's reason for being. In a family, one generation follows the next. Each generation honors the past one while looking forward to creating the future. That is the purest meaning of the word forever.

They say insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting a different outcome. So we figure that we had saved ourselves a LOT of time, money and heartache when we stopped the insanity and just walked away. In fact, our only regret was that we didn’t do this 35 years earlier.

We finally started asking the question – What do we want our lives to be? And we finally determined that how things were not acceptable – definitely not what they should be.

As we started to unravel the answers to these questions – We finally started giving some thought to how we needed to save our selves and our sanity. Life as we know it now has its focus on those who love and respect us. We are people who want our lives to be rich in love and kindness. Our lives should be filled with happiness and self-respect. And this is not only what we had wanted or even what it should have been…It is quite simply, what we deserved. 

Topiarystepmom


Next Post will be by Guest Poster Topiarystepmom!

The next Post will be by my first invited Guest Poster, Topiarystepmom!

Topiarystepmom is the founder of the Parents Who Walk Away (PWWA) discussion group on the DailyStrength.org site. She founded PWWA in October 2011 and the group now has 232 members. She has had four decades of serial estrangement experience.

She is the first invited Guest Poster to my blog. I have told her that she can write on any topic that she chooses. So the upcoming post will be as new to me as it is to you!

Ginny

Note to estranged daughter

As you know, I can see the many many visits that you've been making to my blog. I also can see from the source of some links that bring you and others to my blog that you've written a post which has a title that references my taking three years to write something and the last word that I can see in that title on my statistics counter is "you" which likely means "me".

I am taking a moment here to let you know that I did not write my posts on Being Wrong as being about you or meant for you or directed to you. I wrote those posts because the book and the topic brought up many thoughts about our ability to make errors, our ability to be wrong. I felt compelled to write about it. If you did not exist, I would still have felt compelled to write that.

I see that you continue to be obsessed with my blog. I do not visit your blog. I do not monitor it. I am not going to read the post that you wrote. I leave you and your blog in peace. I wish that you would leave me in peace. While I hope that life is going well for you and I will always care about you even though we are estranged, I do not want to have anything to do with you. I would appreciate it if you would stop visiting my blog.

If I take three years or ten years or two days to write about something that I am thinking about, it is none of your business. I mind my own business. How about you minding more of yours and less of mine!

Any posts that I write here are not about you and are not directed to you. Please go away. It would be great if we could at least have a peaceful estrangement.

Take care,

Ginny


Being Wrong: Part Six

I woke up this morning and realized that I was not finished yet in talking about Being Wrong. There is another important question that we can ask ourselves as we examine our ability to be wrong and how our errors impact ourselves and others. Going back to the description of what occurred between Carol and Tim in Part Five of this series, what if we are Tim? What if we are wrong about someone? What if we are seeing someone through some very dark filter?

I don't know why Tim saw Carol the way that he saw her. I doubt that Tim could give me a good reason if I asked him. I suspect that Tim doesn't know the answer. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if Tim always sees Carol that way and never changes his mind. But I do know that sometimes the Tims of the world go through a transformation and lose that dark filter through which they had been seeing someone that they had spent years disliking, fearing, and even hating. Claiborne Paul Ellis did it. I've done it myself when I've gone from having a deep dislike of someone to becoming very good friends with them.

Continue reading "Being Wrong: Part Six" »


Being Wrong: Part 5

That sure was a long seven days since I last posted an entry on this topic of being wrong! That delay occurred despite my best intentions to do what I said that I was going to do. It has been difficult for me to finish this piece. My goal is to make a point but I want to make the point in a particular way. I want to make a point about us all as humans and about our human nature. I am not saying that I am somehow free from being wrong as I am not. That is part of the point too.

I was inspired to write on the subject of being wrong by several things. They are as follows: the book: Being Wrong, Adventures in the Margin of Error, my reading of numerous blogs and discussion groups on the experience of family estrangement, my personal experience with being wrong, and my observations of events in the lives and relationships of friends and acquaintances and in my own life.

Continue reading "Being Wrong: Part 5" »


Being Wrong, Part 4: How is it that sometimes we choose the wrong answer?

Funny how things change. In that first post on Being Wrong that I wrote in May 2011, I talked about a couple that I knew, "Bob" and "Janice" and how I had gone from initially disliking them a lot to becoming good friends with them. I was using that transformation as an example of how I felt I had been wrong about them and that I thought I had been unfair. Since I wrote that post, Bob and Janice both did things that felt so unfair that I made some important decisions later in 2011 due to their actions. I make a brief reference to what the wife did in my New Year's Resolutions post of January 5, 2012.

 


Being Wrong, Post #3: When you're just plain wrong.

Over a year ago I wrote two posts on the subject of "Being Wrong" inspired by a book titled "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error" by Kathryn Schulz. I said that I would write more on the subject of being wrong but till now, I hadn't written another word. However, I continue to think about the subject a lot.

I hadn't written more since then for several reasons. One was that I felt that the topic was so important that I felt overwhelmed by it, afraid that I wouldn't be able to express my thoughts well enough to give it justice. I have been so busy with the usual sorts of things that go into living a life that I haven't felt as though I had the time to sit down, look through the book again, gather the threads of my thoughts on the subject, and put it all together in a coherent post. I've been so busy that when I had down time, I didn't want to spend it on putting together my thoughts on why that book had impressed me so much. Impressed is not the right word but it is the best one that I can come up with at this moment. I have thought about the subject of "being wrong" again and again. Things that happen in my life remind me of what I read in this book. The things that I see myself and other people doing remind me of this book.

Late last year for example I began hearing about the movie Hugo. I heard about the plot line and I thought that it was odd that nowhere was it mentioned that there had been an animated movie that was based on the very same plot line. That seemed unfair. Every time I heard about the movie Hugo, I had these images in my head from the animated movie. I could see the scenes, remember what the characters looked like. I could remember what they did and said. I thought it was outrageous that no one was mentioning that fantastic animated movie. I spoke about it with my husband and he said that he remembered the movie too. Although he might have recalled seeing the movie after I had kept talking about it for a while. He did not remember the movie's name or where we had seen it.

I thought that Scorsese had ripped off the plot lines, character and story of the animated movie that I remembered and I was so puzzled that no one else was mentioning this obvious ripoff. I did online searches for the animation version and could not find it. It was such a cool movie that I couldn't imagine that it wouldn't be in the online databases of movies.

Then I had an epiphany! It was not a movie that I had seen. Even though I remembered the scenes of the animation vividly in my mind, it was not a movie that I was remembering! It was the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret that I had read and was remembering as though it was an animated movie! There had never been an animated movie that existed before the movie Hugo! My memory was entirely incorrect! I had seen the book on which the movie was based before the movie was made. That person who had the book had recommended it to me and had lent it to me. I had read it and returned the book to them. All the pictures in the book and the story line had combined together in my memory so that I was remembering it as a movie!

I was stunned to realize how deceived I had been by my memory. Not only stunned by that but also stunned to realize that my own account of having seen a movie that didn't exist had influenced my husband to believe that he had seen the movie too! He hadn't even read the book!

It was a perfect example of feeling "right" but being wrong about something. Absolutely unarguably wrong. Both of us were wrong. When I recognized the untruthfulness of my memory, I thought back on Schulz's book, Being Wrong, and how this experience of remembering something that had never happened fit so perfectly with what is talked about in the book. People do this all the time. They believe that they are right even when they are absolutely wrong. It happens all the time. We don't like to think that we are capable of being 100% wrong but sometimes we are, no matter how much we'd like think that it doesn't happen.

I've been collecting examples of that experience in my own life. There are a lot more than one. It teaches me humility among other things. It teaches me how others can do the same things as I do. That book talks about these kinds of experiences.

Generally we don't go around thinking about the times that we are wrong, whether we are wrong now, whether we've been wrong in the past, why we are sometimes so wrong, and what might we do so that we can be less wrong.

Why is it important to know if we are right or wrong? Why give the subject any space in our minds? I know I am stating the obvious when I say that being right or wrong can have serious consequences in our personal lives and in our culture. If the worst thing that I've ever been wrong about was whether I'd seen a movie or not, I'd be fortunate. More serious consequences involve decisions that we make in our lives regarding relationships, politics, guilt or innocence, issues of fairness, whether our decisions and acts are perpetrating good or evil. It is entirely possible to be on the wrong side of a line while believing that we are entirely in the right. It is possible to commit abuse and believe that we are doing the right thing. That is what struck me about the writings in that book. How abuse is committed in the name of doing the right thing.

I will write more on this subject and I promise that I won't procrastinate for over a year before writing that next post. I have too many thoughts on the subject of Being Wrong to express them in two or three posts. I intend to write another post on the subject within the next week. Stating a timeline might help me to get this next post written.

Wishing you all less of being wrong and more of being right and if you've made errors, please know that we all make them!

Ginny


Mother's Day 2012: Eleven Selected Links

  1. March 9, 2012 Estranged from my mum on Mother's Day
  2. May 11, 2012 Kelly Pickler, article, song & video: "Mother's Day" Is Gift of Closure
  3. My Mother
  4. Mother's Day: To Estranged Mother Greeting Card
  5. Father's Day Cards to Estranged Father Greeting Card
    Interestingly, there are several choices of cards for estranged fathers but only one for estranged mothers.
  6. May 11, 2012 by Theresa Froehlich, Transition Coach Mothers Who Can't Celebrate Mother's Day
  7. Nov. 20, 2010 Estranged Adult Children
  8. May 8, 2011 Mother's Day's Dirty Little Secret: Estrangement
  9. May 12, 2012 Mother's Day Guest Columnist Deborah Kennedy: What I never got to tell my mother
  10. April 28, 2012 Broken Bonds Healing Hearts: Advice on Surviving Mother's Day
  11. May 10, 2012 The Last Mother's Day by Timothy Egan

Happy Mother's Day!

(Or as one dear friend calls it: Stupid F'ing Mother's Day! -- SFMD! for short)

Ginny


On New Year's resolutions & happiness: posts on the E-stranged blog

As the new year begins, some of us make resolutions. I visited Fiona McColl's E-stranged blog this week and found two superb posts that she wrote that resonate with me and that I am linking below along with the thoughts that those posts inspire. The first linked post is on her New Year's resolution. The second is on the pursuit of happiness.

Care Less, a post written by Fiona McColl on her blog E-stranged. January 3, 2012

Emotions being what they are (in other words difficult creatures to control) the goal of caring less may seem daunting. It might make it easier if you can give yourself permission to care less. Many of us feel as though caring less would be a terrible thing to do but when you are in the habit of caring more than is good for you, caring less can be freeing. It is okay to care less. Unless you are the sort of person who never cared at all and then, if you are, the concept of caring less is not something you are going to be making any New Year's resolutions about and you are probably wondering why someone would even write such a post!

The Pursuit of Happiness, a post written by Fiona McColl on E-stranged, January 5, 2012

This post resonated with me as I found myself in a situation as a volunteer where I had misplaced my priorities and was putting an organization's needs as a higher priority than my own personal, family and business needs. I knew this but was having a hard time figuring out what to do about it. And then someone who is inextricably involved in that organization treated me badly. She chose a day that was particularly awful to do that to me as it was a day that I and others had worked really hard to make successful.

The last thing that I or anyone involved needed on that day was to be treated badly. After that, I had the choice of continuing to keep that organization at the top of my priority list or let them find someone else to take over my volunteer work. If I stayed, I would be forced to interact with the person who had treated me horribly. If I stayed, I would be continuing to put the organization's needs higher than my own. If I stayed, I would be in a situation that was getting worse despite the input and warnings from myself and others. Or I could let it go, choose to be happier doing more of the things I needed to do for myself and my husband, and let them find another volunteer. I am choosing happiness. I resigned. That was a bit of a shock to them but my friends are still my friends and it may all work out for the best in the long run anyway. It wasn't reasonable to expect someone to do as much work as I was doing as a volunteer. Organizations will take whatever you offer, even if it is more than you can afford to give.

I am giving them some opportunity to find someone else before I am completely out of there. So I am still doing work for them but not giving it my all any more. I am looking forward to being out.

I am a little bit worried that I won't have the strength to get myself completely out. It will be one more learning experience for me to extricate myself. I guess the worst that can happen as far as I am concerned is that I might continue to do some things for them that I particularly enjoy doing. And do those things at a pace and time frame that doesn't conflict with other things that are more important.

Going back to Fiona's "Care Less" post, I wish that I could care a lot less when I put myself in this kind of situation. For the future, I know myself better now and I intend to be far more cautious when offering my services as a volunteer. It is not happiness when I have no time for my own things but only time for others. Volunteering is a good thing which I like to do but, like so many things, it can take up 100% of my time if I let it.

I feel sure that my life experiences had a lot to do with how I ended up doing too much of a good thing for a good cause to the point that it was not good for me. I am aware of that. I know it is up to me to make decisions that are healthier so that I don't find myself in that same kind of situation again. Now I see "red flags" in certain situations that I might have jumped into too quickly. I see other people putting themselves into tough situations. I don't try to talk them out of what they are doing because it isn't any of my business and they would not appreciate my butting in but seeing them do the same kinds of things that I have done makes me realize that it isn't just me who does these things. A lot of us do them and then eventually we figure out where we've gotten out of balance with what we're doing and how to get back on track. And then allow ourselves to make decisions that let us live happier lives.

Happy New Year everyone!

Ginny


Christopher Hitchens Article on Estrangement, Vanity Fair, 2005

The writer Christopher Hitchens has died. I've spent much of my day so far reading obituaries about him and watching videos of him on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Among the many words written by and about him, I found an article by Hitchens on the estrangements that occur between siblings. It is titled: "Oh Brother, Why Art Thou" and was written in 2005. He had been estranged from his brother, Peter Hitchens. They eventually reconciled.

Here is the link to the article:

"Oh Brother, Why Art Thou?" by Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair, May 16, 2005

and here is a link to today's post by Peter Hitchens on the death of his brother:

By Peter Hitchens, December 16, 2011: In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

and a link to an earlier post by Peter Hitchens on the relationship with his brother and their eventual reconciliation:

"How I found God and peace with my atheist brother" by Peter Hitchens, March 11, 2010


More on the subject of "Being Wrong"

I've been wanting to write more on the subject of "Being Wrong" but have been having trouble finding the time to sit down, organize my thoughts, and write up a coherent post on the subject. I have too many projects going on that need my attention. So I will make do with writing some smaller additional posts on this topic as I find time to do them rather than try to find that larger space of time to write that I would prefer. That larger space of time just isn't happening!

I think of this subject of "Being Wrong" quite often lately while I am doing other things. My husband and I watch The Bachelorette. A week ago we watched with dismay the treatment of the current bachelorette, Ashley, by the narcissistic meanspirited jerk, Bentley. Ashley was unaware of his comments shown on TV during the program of how much he did not like her, was not interested in her, and how much he apparently enjoyed putting one over on her. Ashley was enamored of him. He had her fooled. She was wrong about him. He did not love her, was not attracted to her, and was getting off on fooling her and messing with her head. A true charmer he was not. She was wrong, wrong, wrong. It was painful to watch her reaction to his untrue explanation of why he was leaving the show.

I was imagining how horrified her family must have been to see her tears and then this dude preening over his managing to deceive her. I think through his behavior he exemplifies the word "cad". For some reason Ashley did not see through his deception. How many of us would? We might tell ourselves that we would see it but how often in life are we faced with someone like that?

This kind of person is not encountered that often except perhaps in certain kinds of professions. (Like criminal professions?) Interestingly his profession involves money which does seem to attract a certain type of personality. Which is one reason why the global financial crisis has occurred as there were too many personalities who didn't give a damn about anyone else and who were involved in decision making at the top of companies involved in money management.

People who care only about themselves are not good people to get involved with. When you can see them coming and protect yourself, it is a good thing. They should have a class in school when we're growing up that is on the subject of the identification of the soulless people in life who will walk on you with track shoes for their own enjoyment. We don't expect to encounter this kind of sucky behavior from most people. So they pop up when we least expect it and surprise us.

Most of the time when people are nice to us, we think that they like us and that we might enjoy spending time with them. So it's a shock when we notice that our hearts are stolen or our wallets or the global and/or national economy. We don't see it coming unless we're watching for it and we aren't trained to be that cynical about people.

We usually expect that the people who will do rotten things will look a bit rotten on the outside or smell bad or that deception will show on their face. We don't expect that it is someone who will hug you when you're crying. Then we find out that they laugh behind your back at your tears. How enormously painful to be hurt by someone that you liked and maybe loved.

More  on this subject when I find the next bit of time to write.

Ginny


Family Estrangement: "Being Wrong": The Book, the Experience

I finished reading the book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, on May 20, the day before the day predicted by Harold Camping for the much ballyhooed Rapture that didn't happen. What I learned, among many other interesting things, from the book was that in the nineteenth century there was a man, William Miller, who had set the date of October 22, 1844 at the day when the world would end and judgment would occur. That became known as the Great Disappointment. Funny how people are that they would be disappointed that the world did not end. Things must not have been going too well for them or for their twenty-first century spiritual kin that they would find survival in this world to be such a disappointment.

I was interested in reading the book, Being Wrong, because I personally have needed to cope with being wrong at times and also with others being wrong. The issues that I find so interesting about the condition of "being wrong" encompass a number of areas in life including the need to be right, the resistance to being inaccurate and/or wrong, the absolute denial of being wrong despite evidence to the contrary, perfectionism and its role in determining rightness or wrongness, political issues, religious issues, romantic issues, memory, psychology, culture, society. Kathryn Schulz, the author of "Being Wrong", attempts to cover most of these issues.

For me this was not light reading. It took me a while to get through this thought provoking book. It provided me with some answers for how it can be that people decide that an idea or a course of action is the right course of action and ignore evidence that indicates that they might be incorrect. As I read this book I remembered decisions and ideas that I had had in the past that I later changed my mind about.

Some specific memories that I have where I ended up changing my mind are ones that relate to my disliking certain people. I remember that in 2003 I met a woman for whom I developed a strong dislike. I considered her to be unfriendly, cold, haughty, aloof, and rigid. I was involved in working with a group of people that included her. She held a prominent post in that group. I disliked her a lot. I'll refer to her as Geraldine.

At that same time there was a married couple in that same group that I also disliked. I had been hearing negative things about them from others. I had heard that they were controlling. Both were described in many negative ways. I met them after having heard these things and I was ready to dislike them. The chip was already on my shoulder when it came to them. I'll refer to them as Bob and Janice.

I saw the things that they did through the filter of my dislike. So I saw them as controlling, incapable of warmth, mean, uncaring, authoritarian, and even foolish and stupid. I had to work with them but I wasn't willing to give them any benefit of the doubt. I felt antagonistic towards them. In retrospect I cringe at how I talked about them to others and how I thought about them at that time.

It took a while for me to see Geraldine, Bob and Janice in a different light. To put it in a different way, it took a while for me to see the light. The light being that they were and are all hard working intelligent nice people who give of themselves to benefit others and who deserved my respect, admiration, and friendship, not my enmity or my hostile negative thoughts and feelings. Why had I started out with such a wrongheaded assessment of them? I ask myself that. Why had I been so unfair?

Similar things have happened where I have thought that certain people were quite wonderful and then they turned out to be untrustworthy, dishonest, out for themselves alone and screw everyone else. I can be so very wrong at times that I scare myself!

In the case of Bob and Janice, I had allowed the statements of others whose opinions I trusted at that time to influence my feelings about Bob and Janice. The more I worked with and spoke with Bob and Janice, the more I liked them. I was puzzled about this. Every time I got off the phone with Janice, I felt surprised by how much I had enjoyed speaking with her. The more I spoke with her husband, the more I liked him. My husband liked him too and my husband is a pretty good judge of people.

It took me a couple of years but I eventually needed to admit to myself that I thought that my other friends were wrong and that Bob and Janice were terrific people who did not deserve what had been said about them. I even realized that one of the people who had been the most negative about Janice was very much like Janice in her personality. Perhaps, since both are somewhat take charge people who spend a lot of time doing things for others, their similar personalities had resulted in a collision of personalities rather than a positive experience. I can't find a good explanation for why my friend disliked Janice so much except that maybe it is impossible to have two women like that in the same room? I know that I have ended up liking Janice quite a bit and liking my other friend somewhat less because she has done so much badmouthing of Janice that I haven't found any evidence was deserved. By doing that, she was doing damage not only to Janice but also to a very good organization that is set up to help the local community. For a time I was guilty of this same thing because I had also said negative things that were unfair. Since then I hope that I have set things right through my change in attitude and loyalties. Since then I have become a defender of Bob and Janice when I hear unfair things said about them.

My feelings towards Geraldine also changed as I got to know her. I learned more about her personal life and how much she devoted of her time and energy to the organization which we both support. My theories of how unfriendly she was and how aloof fell by the wayside. I learned how to get along with her when she was upset. I contradicted her at times and we both survived. We both made each other laugh. We both felt grief over losses in our lives. We both cared deeply about many of the same things. We were both deeply invested in the same goals that result in helping an organization move forward that helps a community. I developed a respect for her creativity and her devotion to what she cared about. I grew to like her a lot which was quite a surprise to me after my initial reaction to her. I admitted to myself that I had been wrong about her. She was not the unfriendly haughty beast I once thought she was. She was a caring generous human being. She did not deserve the opinion I once had had of her. I had been wrong.

Thus I approached the book, Being Wrong, with my memories of the times that I have been wrong, my observations of when others think and do things that also seem to be wrong,  and my desire to understand how it is that we as human beings can cling to our wrongheaded beliefs no matter that there is evidence that we are indeed wrong.

More on this later. I think this is going to end up being a longer piece of writing than I had anticipated initially. I thought it would be only one post's worth of writing lengthwise. You could say that I was, yet again, wrong!

Ginny


Former Things: A novel & blog. About Family Estrangement

I haven't yet read this book, Former Things, by Gail Lowe but I am going to order it and read it.

The author has a blog, Former Things - Planting a Seed Called Forgiveness,  that I am linking to right here. She writes beautifully. From what I have read on her blog, I expect that her novel is an excellent read. I am recommending it without having read it.

This is a belated Mother's Day present to visitors. I just found a reference to this novel this morning, the day after Mother's Day.

Ginny