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Estrangement: darkness before dawn

For the last five years I have been working in French law and helping French property owners resolve succession or buying/selling isssues. In one particular case, a lady rang up to say that her mother had been sequestered in her house in France by her son who had also stolen all of the mother's money, or put in a more PC way, drained her bank accounts. I remember listening and then calmly putting the 'phone down once the conversation had ended. You see, the same thing happened to me.

One can read all the latest psychological ramblings and research on the effects of sibling estrangement. Supposedley it is rare (less than 5%) in the US but here's what I've learned through experience. I am an orphan. I am extrememy resilient and hard working. I became a genius through poverty. Betrayal makes you hard as nails. You can spot a fraud, a time waster, a user, less than a mile away. The overwhelming sense of hatred doesn't diminish with time even though you want to forgive. I developed Herculean mental strength in order to survive. I view acquaintances/friends with detachment because when the chips were down, I was alone, on my own, completely by myself. I don't ask for advice because too many are curious not caring.

The benefits of estrangement mean that you work harder to make something of your life because no one, not even your own family would really care if you were lying dead in a ditch. That's a very hard pill to swallow especially when my own father supposedley adored me but the facts speak otherwise. I could have spent the last fourteen years dead but I chose to push myself so hard that I was able to buy my own home for cash and fulfil my dream of living in France. Don't get me wrong, I cracked under the strain and considered suicide. And I have had to sacrifice a lot in order to survive. But guess what? There are many others like me so what I have had to endure is nothing special or extraordinary, so let's just call it 'unfortunate'. The flipside is it made me a better human being.

Life remains an incredible gift -somewhere in the stars we happened to be and I very much believe in the inevitability of life. Happiness too can be inevitable. I never take my life for granted. How lucky am I to be able to live in France, to be able to earn a living, to have three beautiful, contented dogs, to have found a supportive partner? How lucky am I to never waste a moment? To fill my days with work, cooking, writing, walking my dogs, gazing at my beautiful garden? How lucky am I to have simple, humble expectations of life? How lucky am I to still be able to love?

I wrote an earlier post on this blog about not despairing. After all, every time the sun rises or sets, is the promise of a new dawn. Just never forget that despair and anguish take up an awful lot of time which could be better spent elsewhere. And being distraught 24/7 will literally drive you insane. In the words of Monty Python, 'Always look of the bright side of life!'. Believe me, that's the one thing no one will ever do for you. No one can save your life, only you can.

All my best wishes to anyone who is estranged. Don't give up - take your life back with both hands. You are not alone.
Photo copyright SvD.

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