Monday, January 13, 2014

The Black Sheep

There are family members asking where "I" am, apparently. Why "I" left Facebook. (still, even though it's been years since we closed the account we had, and only in the last year opened a new one that we never really use). They always seem to be asking where we are.

It's like they think it's unusual for us to disengage. It's not.

One of our cousins, close to our physical age, got married last weekend. We found out about the engagement in October, at one of the few family events we regularly attend, if we find ourselves state-side. Everybody else knew about the wedding, the date, etc. We mentioned that this was new news, and that we had gotten no invite. A couple weeks later one magically appeared in the mailbox. Of course we were not going to attend at this point.

Truth be told, since the age of about 16-18 there have been very few times we've seen the majority of family. We moved around a lot. Nobody came to visit. Nobody kept in touch. We lived in another country for seven years. Surely the only things extended family knows about us has been relayed by Father, or maybe by Angry Brother in some drunken cousin admission. We know how he is, when his loose lips are lubricated by alcohol. We only know of one uncle that knows that we...well, he knows we have mental illness issues...he has been updated to the most recent one.

Honestly, we have so little in common with our family that is can painful for some of us. It's like they all have a connection that...we can't...understand. Sometimes it makes us very sad. Most of the time we are indifferent and we distance ourselves. Their lives are so alien, we struggle to communicate with them. What do you say when you are surrounded by people who talk about bad situations being equated with "God testing" it's a good thing.

We had a long drive today, had to go into town to have more dental work done (it's about a 40 mile drive), and since we had made the drive we dropped into the campus gym for a workout (where we started reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography for a class - by page 20, we'd say it's highly recommended).

Long drives and working out are good for thinking. While driving we remembered Father always saying to us, as a teenager, that "God is always watching". It was his way of trying to control us through fear, because his fear was that once we left the house we could be doing any number of things and he would have no control. We understand that now.

We realized that, unfortunately, what he did not consider that was if "God is always watching" there was was very little he could do about it, we understood this fact because if God was always watching then surely he stood by as we got repeatedly abused, physically, mentally, and sexually...and did nothing. So Father's "threats" were never real enough to us. And the rest is stories of its own, but it shaped how we feel when we are in the presence of our very devout Baptist family.

So, when we sit at tables at family gatherings, listening to people talk about God in all the ways they do (and they do)...unable to really speak our mind,...because what would they say?! They would just call for prayer, they would try to rationalize. They wouldn't even understand. It was be beyond awkward.

Where are they, we, those you never hear from, that family member who constantly disappears, for years at a time? They are living a life, based on a life, that you wouldn't understand.

It's because they are a Black Sheep, and they know it, they understand it, and they cannot communicate with you without physical and mental struggle. And they've dealt with enough of that. They probably miss you from time to time...but it's just scant memories pulled up from the darkness.


  1. Black sheep unite! While I can never fully understand nor appreciate all that has happened, I can relate to a good portion. Oh, and talk about being surrounded by people talking about God an unable to share your own opinion...the motto for the city in which I live includes the phrase, "Andrews Loves God." Yeah. I can't wait to move.

  2. "They are living a life, based on a life, that you wouldn't understand."
    You've said in a concise manner what we've tried to explain for years.
    I talk to my sister, Nora. More to her than Mum & Dad. I talked to Rick while he was alive. He was my connection to the rest of them.
    I don't communicate because I don't want to be part of their lives... but when I'm with them, I'm an alien. I don't fit in their worlds. Everything about me is different... well, most everything... and the similarities are things we don't talk about.
    I hate we're the ones not invited to gatherings... even my brother in Hawaii sees my parents more than I do and I only live 500 miles away. *sighs*
    My Dad is finally getting it. Nora gets it. I have to learn to be okay with knowing the rest may never understand.

  3. I've had zero contact with any members of my family since 2006 simply because there is nothing in it for me. Selfish? Maybe, but blood or no blood I refuse to waste my time on one sided relationships just because it is whats expected.