Hallmark“Because nothing between human beings is uncomplicated and there’s no way to speak of human beings without simplifying and misrepresenting them.”
― Joyce Carol Oates

I woke up this morning and found this Blue Mountain e-card in my Facebook newsfeed. I admit a wince was my first response.

We people who are estranged, have a complicated relationship with these sorts of messages. Some of us, will shrug our shoulders, snort, call bullshit, and scroll on. Others of us will feel sad, wistful, embarrassed or even ashamed that this is not our experience of being in a family. Some of us very much wish that this is how our family worked. Some of us have learned to compartmentalize “family” – we apply these messages to those members who are “in” and disinclude those who are “out”. Some of us will feel angry, resentful and frustrated that this “sanitized” version of family keeps popping up, often when we are least expecting it. We might feel tired of the “hype” about family and desperately wish for more diversity in the way that the idea of family is represented and sold.

There are probably many more estranged person reactions than I can list here, because although we share the experience of family estrangement, the way we got to there, the way we feel about it and the way we manage it is a personal journey. There are as many ways to feel about family as there are to be in {or out} of one. What’s missing is the open {public} space and {public} permission to notice this, think about it and talk about it.

I’ve said it before, Estrangement: Hallmark ain’t got no cards for this, and I’ll say it again. There aren’t any family estrangement cards. Maybe there should be.