“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.”
So following on from yesterday’s free fall, I woke up today with the incredibly dark humid cloud over me once again. The reason, the trigger was a message I received from my sister last night. The message was everything that is wrong with my relationship with my family in a nut shell. The content of the message is unimportant to this post, what is important is why it was sent and the answer as you may have guessed is because I am the black sheep of my family. What does that mean? It means that my family are constantly trying to squeeze me into boxes of their creation and design that I simply do not fit in to.
Here is a recent family portrait, that’s me lying down.
My relationship with them lives in a constant cycle and 3 months seems to be the boiling point. By this I mean that they are fully supportive and loving for stretches of approximately 3 months. The terms and conditions of our relationship are that they will love and support me so long as I am living to their standards. If I parent my kids the way they think I should and how they parent theirs, if I act, speak and live they way they do. The support is conditional and they love nothing more than bringing up every mistake I ever made, and constantly regurgitating the past. Every moment of support is thrown back in my face. If I colour outside of their lines all hell breaks loose.
What makes me the black sheep?
Well, that quote at the beginning has a lot to do with it, however perhaps the question is incorrectly phrased. Perhaps the real question is why does my family think of me as the black sheep? The answer is pretty fucking simple. Ignorance.
I’m not saying they are ignorant in an evil sort of way, what I mean is that they have absolutely no idea what my experiences were or what memories I have and since those are the building blocks of who I am today it is impossible for them to understand why I am not exactly like them. After all, in their eyes, my siblings and I had the same parents, the same home, the same schools, the same upbringing, the same relatives, the same holidays. They naturally assume therefore that our equations are all the same and if that’s true then by rights we should all have turned out the same way, save perhaps different physical abilities and characteristics.
They have no idea that my brain developed very differently to my brothers and sisters. They do not know the suffering, the pain, the sadness that I lived with. They are unaware of the abuse I suffered. All they see is a square peg. A fuck up, a crazy, unstable, messy person. I’m far to free spirited and that scares the shit out of them. During a session with my counsellor she suggested that it was quite possible in fact that they harbour some jealousy because they would like to be as free spirited as I am and that perhaps seeing me and my life is a trigger for their own anxieties and insecurities.
I spoke about core memories in a previous post. Those memories are the lessons we learn and take onboard at such an incredibly deep level that they impact your entire outlook. While my siblings think we should all have the same or similar core memories in reality we had very different experiences of childhood. The lessons I learned were different to theirs.
These are the lessons I learned in childhood and they are very difficult to unlearn;
Distrust – Trust no one, depend on no one. Keep your problems to yourself cos no one gives a flying fuck anyway. “Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave”
Guilt – The world’s problems are all somehow my fault. I didn’t behave myself, I didn’t pray today, I didn’t go to church, I moaned about going to church. I felt guilty about everything, still do. Not just little things in my own little world but far reaching and global. My parents finances, my mums emotional wellbeing, my mum being tired from a night shift, kids being bullied at school, old people who couldn’t walk very well, people dying of starvation in third world countries, children dying of preventable diseases, animal abuse you name it, if it was causing someone pain, I felt an enormous amount of guilt, an 8 year old shouldn’t be worrying about any of that,
Fear – I feared my mum, she could go from Carol Brady mum to oh my fucking god Dexter would shit his pants mum in less than a second. She taught me albeit unintentionally that when you are angry, upset or unable to control a situation violence and rage was the answer. In her calm moments she would say things like violence doesn’t solve anything. I think the irony was lost on her.
Unworthiness – As an adult something I hear a lot is that I need to learn to value myself, know my worth. That’s pretty fucking difficult when you grew up feeling as unimportant and worthless as I did. Feeling like nothing I ever did was good enough. Constantly being compared to my siblings or cousins or even friends. Why can’t you be more like him or her? I was even compared against both my abusers. Imagine that! “Why can you be more like her?“ and in my mind im thinking “what her, the one who takes me to her room and does things to me and makes me do things to her that are unspeakable? That’s who you want me to be more like?”
During one of my counselling sessions my counsellor asked me to think about the child me. What did I think about her? What would I say to her if she were standing in front of me now? I hadn’t thought about “little me” as a separate person before and suddenly this wave of emotions roared over me. I wish I could go back to those days as an adult and go find little me. I would pick her up and hug her so tight, I would whisper how very proud I was of her, how incredibly brave she was, how strong she was. I would also tell her that she didn’t need to be, that she could let it all out, she didn’t need to carry such pain, such heavy burdens. I would tell her she was amazing just the way she was and that she should never forget that. I would go find her abusers and beat the ever living shit out of them; I would drag them up in front of my parents and tell them what they were doing. I would stand between little me and my mother and tell her what she was doing to her daughter. I would tell little me that I love her.
My core memories are blue. Inside me there is great sadness but not many people know this. So how could they possibly understand why I am so different to them? They can’t. And they’re not even awake enough to consider that maybe, just maybe they should stop being so judgemental and just accept that we’re all different. But that would be too easy that would mean level pegging and that would require them to get down from their mighty fine looking high horses. It’s much easier to call me the black sheep; it helps make their whites look whiter. Trying to understand me would require far too much introspection and when you grew up thinking you were the best thing since sliced bread introspection is a scary prospect, I mean fuck, what if you suddenly realised you were actually quite an arrogant asshole? Your entire world view might be completely shattered and then where would you be? Right down here with me and the other black sheep.
For what its worth, I’m proud to be a damaged black sheep who cares too much, loves too deeply, and feels so much she might burst.