Gibbs’ Rule 91 + Estrangement

I’m an avid NCIS fan and have watched them from the beginning, and I dearly miss Gibbs’ rules since his departure. One, specifically, has stuck with me, Rule 91. Rule 91 states: “When you walk away, don’t look back.”

Yes, and a little bit of ouch.

Right around 6 years ago, I chose to walk away from a family member. Little did I know, that very painful experience would lead to a beautiful outreach, but I’ll get to that later.

Six years ago I landed my dream job, the job I’m in now. I was starting a whole new professional life. I was determined not to take many of the pains of my then current life into this new life. And I didn’t realize when I made that goal how much life was going to test me.

Life + curve balls

About a week after I got the job offer, for reasons I won’t go into on this post, I became estranged from a close family member. Family estrangement is a reality that I never thought I’d face with this person.

It was honestly more painful than if this person had died. Because how do you grieve someone who isn’t dead?

I did a heavy amount of grieving for a while and tried to find some groups on Facebook to help. But nothing really fit. So, a some best friends of mine and I started our own, called Family Estrangement Support Group. Our group is dedicated to all sides of estrangement and any type of family estrangement. Most groups are for one side or for moms of estranged kids, etc. Ours covers it all. It took months for the first person to stray in who wasn’t a member of our friend circle and today we have thousands of members. My friends and I, who all have very painful experience with family estrangement, took something painful and made it into something that has helped people around the world.

With all that said, some days I have to really work hard to apply Gibbs’ Rule 91 — because it’s damn hard to move on with life sometimes and not look back at something like this.

I want to let you know if you’re dealing with family estrangement, you’re not alone. It’s far more common than you think. Reach out. You’re not alone.

It’s 100% okay to grieve and 100% okay to seek help for it. Don’t suffer alone.

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