Posts by Jen Hinkkala

Jen Hinkkala is PhD student, researcher, and teacher of arts education in Canada. She strives to understand what factors and experiences lead to higher levels of wellness, resiliency, and self-care among arts educators and students. Jen is also a life coach and specializes in self-care, well-being, time management, performance anxiety, estrangement, overcoming abuse, career paths, and anxiety. Jen runs a support group for estranged adults and a group to support personal development. Follow her here: Twitter / Blog.

A Gentle Reminder to Anyone Who’s Struggling This Holiday Season

“It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to take time for yourself.” ~Kate Allan

It’s the holiday season, the most wonderful time of the year, they say, but it’s not for all of us. For those of us coping with the loss of a loved one, family estrangement, loneliness, financial difficulties, or health struggles, the holidays can be one of the hardest times of the year.

For some of us the holidays can feel as if we have been cast out in the cold. As if we are forced to look through a window of a happy, …

Dear Parent of an Estranged Adult: What Might Repair Your Relationship

Dear estranged parent,

I know it’s not easy to feel cut off from your child when you still feel love and maybe even remorse. I know you might feel confused about why your adult child is so upset, and you might even feel angry and wrongly accused.
Perhaps there’s some truth to that. I don’t know why your child cut ties with you, but I can share a little of my own experience and then offer some tips that might help, regardless of your unique situation.

So why did your son or daughter cut you out of their life?

I …

Dear Everyone Who Tells Me I Should Reconcile with My Parents

“You are allowed to terminate your relationship with toxic family members. You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself.” ~Unknown

You might think I’m a monster because I don’t have a relationship with my parents. I don’t spend holidays with them; I don’t call them and reminisce; they don’t know pertinent details about my life, my friends, my family, my work, or even the person I have become. Do these facts shock you?

It is possible that you have only known loving, supportive parents. Parents who …

Abuse is Like an Iceberg: The Cruelty and Pain You Never See

“What we see is only a fractional part of what really is.” ~Unknown

On the surface, in the public eye, it can seem trivial. It might look like the seemingly harmless teasing of a child or romantic partner, joking about words they have mispronounced or silly mistakes they have made. Inane mistakes like putting on a shirt backward, burning something in the oven, or losing their keys. Mistakes that everyone makes.

Abuse might sound like judgmental comments that appear to come from a place of compassion. Comments like:

My daughter doesn’t apply herself; she’s lazy, and I wish she

The Grief We Can’t Run from and Why We Should Embrace It

“I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Grief creeps up on you when you least expect it. It reminds you of the person you have lost when you’re out for coffee with friends, watching people hug their loved ones goodbye at the airport, and when you’re at home thinking about people you should call to check-in on.

Even when you think that enough time has passed for you to be over it, grief pulls at your heartstrings. You think about all the ways that life …

If You’ve Been Abused and You’ve Lost Your Joy and Sense of Self

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can choose not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou

I know what you’re feeling because I’ve been there. You’re sitting quietly with your pain asking yourself if the abuse really happened or if you just fabricated it in your mind like they said you did.

You’re wondering if you’re too sensitive. If you really did hurt them as much as they claim you did. There’s a small part of you that wonders if you actually deserved to be treated poorly because of what you said or …

To All the Abused Kids Who Are Dealing with the Consequences as Adults…

“The feeling of being rejected, disapproved of, or conditionally loved by one’s primary caregivers is a monumental, long-lasting burden for a child to carry. It produces chronic shame, guilt, and anxiety. The child is blamed for doing something wrong and in doing so learns to perceive themselves as being bad.” ~Darius Cikanavicius, Human Development and Trauma: How Childhood Shapes Us into Who We Are as Adults

You’re safe now, but you weren’t before.

Before you were abused.

If your experiences were anything like mine, you were told that you were worthless on a daily basis, that your feelings and needs …

The Day I Found Out from the Internet my Estranged Father Had Died

“The scars you can’t see are the hardest to heal.” ~Astrid Alauda

On a lazy Sunday morning as I lounged in bed, I picked up my phone, scrolled through my news feed on Facebook, and decided to Google my parents’ names.

I am estranged from my parents, and I have not had much of a relationship with them in over fifteen years; however, there’s a part of me that will always care about them.

I Googled my mother’s name first and found the usual articles about her dance classes, and her name on church and community bulletin boards. …

Dear Estranged Adult: You Are Strong and Worthy of Love

Dear estranged adult,

What I want you to remember is that it was never really about you, although it might have felt like it at the time and it might feel that way now.

When your parents told you over and over you weren’t good enough, that you would never amount to anything, they were just projecting their own feeling about themselves on to you because deep down, they do not feel they are good enough and don’t believe they have amounted to anything.

Maybe these feelings were passed down from their parents, or maybe your parents have regrets about …

Disconnected and Strong in the Face of COVID-19

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can find a number of helpful coronavirus resources and all related Tiny Buddha articles here.

“Distance sometimes lets you know who is worth keeping, and who is worth letting go.”
Lana Del Rey

As COVID-19 started to change my life I found myself thinking about my family. My parents who I haven’t really spoken to much since 2007, and my sister. I wondered how they were doing and what they must have been feeling at that moment.

Then I stopped myself and reminded myself why I had cut connections with them in the first place. …

Love Yourself, on Valentine’s Day and Always

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” Brené Brown 

Growing up I watched my grandparents’ relationship with longing. They anticipated each other’s needs, they did small loving gestures for each other every day, and they put the other first without resentment. I longed to have a relationship like theirs one day and meet someone who understood me the way they understood each other.

In contrast, I observed the relationship between my parents. My mother was constantly in a state of panic trying desperately to please my father. Her actions …

What My Parents Did to Me and Why I Cut Them Out of My Life

I wrote this letter to my extended family years after I chose to become estranged from my parents because many of them cut me out of their lives instead of reaching out to hear my side of the story.

It pains me that I have lost contact with some of them because they refuse to see the full picture, and at times I feel as though I have lost a part of myself. Yet, at the same time, I am free.

The letter you are about to read comes from a place of acceptance and longing. I have chosen to …