If You’re Looking for Universal Truths, You Won’t Find Them Here


“We’re all travelling heavy with illusions.”
Sherman Alexie

Yesterday I posted an article, Not All Grandparents Should Have the Legal Right to a Relationship With Their Grandchildren, written by Becca Bland from Stand Alone. I’m very supportive of Becca and her work and I think her article is on point: not all grandparents should have a legal right to a relationship with their grandchildren.

I will go so far as to say I wrote my own post, back in 2012, about this very subject, What Does It Mean? in response to some information that was shared by Joshua Coleman about the importance of grandparent relationships.

This morning I woke up to a couple of emails from angry grandparents advising me that they would be unsubscribing to my blog and Facebook page in response to my support of the above article.

I want to talk about this for a moment.

There’s No Universal Truths Here

This blog is a bit of an anomaly as far as estrangement communities go. I don’t draw alliances. I don’t preference one person’s experience of estrangement over another. I am not on anyone’s “side”. I don’t write for people who are estrangers or people who are estrangees – I write about estrangement, more specifically I write about getting to the other side of estrangement, healing – building sane, healthy and happy lives, with or without our families.

I try to write in a way that is sensitive to the complexity of estrangement and the variation of people’s experiences. I work hard not to speak in absolutes – because I don’t believe they exist. I have written about this multiple times on this blog: for instance You Say Dumper I say Estranger; You Say Dumpee I say Estrangee

Sometimes this irritates people. They want me to “pick a side”, write more “strongly”, choose my “faction”. This is never going to happen folks.

It may well be that in your circumstances, you have a great case for why you should have access to your grandchildren. That’s perfectly understandable and no one believes more than I do that it is sane to  maintain family connections whenever it is healthy and safe to do so. What you can’t do is extrapolate your circumstances and make them universally true for all grandparents in all cases of estrangement. You can speak to your circumstances, no more, no less.

I Don’t Want to Know What I don’t Want to Know

The image I chose for this post is a variation on the see, hear, speak no evil theme – however, I see it a little differently. I think we need to be very careful not to extrapolate our experience of estrangement and try to translate them into universal “Truths”. Becca took a stand to discuss her experience of estrangement and why in her opinion, not every estranged grandparent should have access to their grandchildren. I agree with her.

She makes a compelling argument – not that no estranged grandparent should have access but that some cannot or should not, based upon individual considerations.

It’s hard work to hear how estrangement looks and feels to someone on the other side of it. It’s hard work to be confronted by different or challenging perspectives. It means we have to open up and be vulnerable and that’s scary. I get it.

It’s My Prerogative

If you do not want to see (read) things that challenge your perspective; if you do not want to hear things that challenge your perspective, if you choose to say things that disagree with someone else’s perspective – it is certainly your prerogative. If that means you do not wish to read my blog or my Facebook page, that is also, most certainly, your prerogative.

It is my prerogative to write in a way that is inclusive of people’s experiences of estrangement; to continue to challenge absolutes and to continue to present estrangement as the complex, multi-faceted experience that it is. If that is a problem, then I encourage you {with heavy heart} to unsubscribe to my work.

We’re all in this together, this journey of estrangement – yet we are also alone in our circumstances and understanding. Your experience will not be mine, and mine will not apply to someone else. Understanding this may in fact, be primary to understanding estrangement and being able to move forward. There are no Universal Truths – no matter how much we would like the reassurance of them.

Estrangement is complex.


New e-Book: Estrangement and Grief

estrangement and grief1Would it surprise you to know that one of the topics I am most often asked to write about or address is estrangement and grief and loss? This really shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider there really aren’t any resources explicitly dealing with grieving after estrangement. Well no more!

I’ve written a comprehensive e-book, which discusses estrangement and grief in detail. There are six chapters, each with their own Action Sheets to assist readers to incorporate some of the latest, cutting edge research on grieving from an estrangement perspective. This makes for a resource that is practical, actionable and life changing.

Find out what makes grieving estrangement losses unique. Learn about different theories of grief and how they relate to estrangement. Work through 6 estrangement specific Action Sheets that will help you get on track with your grieving. Get 8 Strategies you can put to work right now, to make moving through grief easier.

If you’d like to consider purchasing a copy, please check out the E-Stranged e-Store!

Stop That

Minolta DSC
“A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”

― Douglas Adams

What if feeling better was just as much about choosing what we don’t want, as it is choosing what we do want? Think about that for a moment because it’s actually pretty important.

Learning to do something new or different takes a good deal of energy and effort. We have to work hard to overwrite old scripts and ways of being, to teach ourselves to do something different.

Most of us who are estranged have a pretty good store of data or evidence about what works and what doesn’t. If we’ve been doing something and it doesn’t feel right or good … if it isn’t helping us to feel peaceful, healthy or happy … if it gets in the way of our ability to create and maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships … stop doing it.

Some things clients have shared with me from their “Stop That List”:

– Stop chasing people who are emotionally unavailable
– Stop having telephone conversations with my mother, they always end in tears
– Stop being too proud to ask for help
– Stop maintaining relationships with people who treat me poorly
– Stop assuming the worst about people, not everyone is a jerk
– Stop believing that other people can read my mind, or that they should
– Stop rationalizing, justifying and explaining myself

Is there anything you want to stop doing?

Good. Don’t do that.