Thursday, June 7 '07: A Deere Dad's Day is on its way!

Site changes

An Introduction to Estrangements

Estrangements, the blog and the website, is primarily about estrangements in families between blood relatives. It is less about the estrangements between former lovers, even though that is such a common form of estrangement.

What brought me to creating the website, Estrangements.com, were the estrangements between myself and blood relatives and, secondarily, other estrangements in my life.

Estrangements, the website, has lists of links to information about celebrities and others who have experienced estrangement, links on information about psychological conditions that can be catalysts for estrangement, links to support and discussion groups, lists of books, movies and online articles on the topic, a poetry page, and the blog from 2001 to 2005.

The blog includes my own story of family estrangements and my writings on various issues that relate to estrangement. My own story is just that, my own story. Others in my family have their own stories and their stories differ from mine. I don't know the internal lives and perceptions of the others in my story even if we once were close and even if we thought we all knew each other well. Even if we were currently on good terms, I wouldn't know what it is like to be them.

We are all encased in our own skin and can't know exactly what it is like to see through the eyes and walk in the shoes of another person. We can try but it is impossible. Great novelists can be good at it but still, no one really knows what the exact interior life is like of another. We can guess. We can approximate. We can hear it described. We can extrapolate from our own experience but we never really know. So we can each tell our own tale but if we dare to try to tell another's, then we had best tread lightly because we operate with incomplete information.

As for my other writings and drawings in the blog, they are my opinion and my expression of themes of estrangement. The cartoons are not meant to be a specific person. They are cartoon drawings of human beings caught in the drama of being human. The characters in them are generic and are based on my life experiences, on stories I have been told, and on composites of people in the roles that they live.

In May 2007 I began writing the Diary of An Ordinary Woman which is not specifically on the topic of estrangement but is about a person who is estranged. The person happens to be me. Since I was writing the Diary of an O.W. almost daily, earlier posts on the topic of estrangements were buried from view. Consequently, as of June 12, the Diary of an Ordinary Woman is on its own blog. I deleted all of the Diary posts from Estrangements except for the Deere post and have provided a link to the Diary blog here on the Estrangements blog as well as a feed to recent Diary posts.

I have more than one reason for writing the Diary of an O.W. I give one reason in the first post of the Diary.

I have encountered other people's baggage many times in the last 12 years of writing and talking with people about the subject of estrangement. I have been impressed by the amazing ability of people to jump to conclusions about me and others whose similarities to their own estrangement are the facts of being estranged and their position in their family. They jump to conclusions that are colored by their own experiences.

Subjective assumptions are part of human nature. We do the best we can with what we've got. We use our own experiences, limited as they are, to develop ideas about what is happening in the world. We try to make sense of things and we use our experiences as our source material. The more emotion attached to the story that we are trying to make sense out of, the less objective we're likely to be. The more we identify with some of the people in the story, the less we are able to identify with those we see as "the others". The more we see similarities through age, role, physical resemblance, gender, position in the family, education, disability, and other traits, the more we make assumptions about everyone involved including those who we think of as "like us" and those we think of as "like them".

The best way to know another person and to know what makes them tick is to walk in their shoes but that is an experience we can't do. If someone has a high ability to empathize and has had similar experiences, then they can have a better idea of what it might be like to be another person and can draw more accurate conclusions. But who has the time to go around studying others in such detail? Who really cares that much? When do we know if we are being conned?

To understand a situation completely, we'd have to be able to empathize with everyone involved and put our own subjective assumptions away. If we could do that, then we'd qualify to be the most perfect therapist who never existed!  Not even great therapists are able to put away all of their subjectivity and baggage.

So I concede that eliminating the baggage of my visitors is something that I can't do. I can draw cartoons about baggage. I can write about baggage and my thoughts on it. I can think about creative ways to portray the concept of baggage and how we can make subjective interpretations but I can't eliminate it. I concede that I can't win that fight But maybe I can make an inroad here and there through my efforts.

The only ones who can eliminate baggage are the ones who carry the baggage and they have to realize that they are carrying it before they can begin to shed any of it. So along with my cartoons and my other posts on baggage, I write about myself as an Ordinary Woman because that is what I am. I am just Ordinary.

I am through and through Ordinary. I am not superhuman nor superweak. I am not a therapist, not a mindreader, not able to discern what someone says who doesn't tell me things. I am not able to do superhuman things. I am not able to be perfect. I do not know all things. I am not only a mother, a daughter, an ex-wife and a wife but I have a life. An Ordinary Life but a life. Like other people who come here to this site who are pretty Ordinary too.

When I use the word Ordinary, I mean it in a nice way. By Ordinary I mean someone who doesn't have extraordinary abilities, extraordinary mental illnesses, extraordinary mean streaks. I mean someone who is a generally good person who wants to live a life that means something, someone who would rather do good than bad, someone who tries to do their best, someone who would not go out of their way to hurt anyone. Someone who doesn't deserve to experience pain but who experiences pain because in an Ordinary Life there is pain as well as good times.

When visitors come to my site, I want them to know that I am indeed Ordinary. And that estrangements happen to all of us, even Ordinary People. It would be great to be a SuperHuman and be able to solve all things but then not even Superman was able to do that.

Whomever you are and whatever caused you to visit this Estrangements site, I hope that any estrangements in your life work out for the best for you. That whatever solution you find, that it is one that allows you to live a productive, meaningful and satisfying life. I wish I could provide the answers that you are looking for but I've found that one constant truth for me is that if answers exist, they vary for each of us and it is up to each of us to find them.

I wish you the best of success in finding your answers and that the outcome of finding them is a positive one.

Ginny

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