The world is filled with black sheep of the family. The kid who decided to be an artist instead of a doctor or lawyer. The hippie in the family of planners and stressors. The family member who moved far away from their loved ones. I know what it’s like to be the black sheep of the family; the one that doesn’t belong.
Once the abuse came out and I moved into foster care I slowly saw less of my biological family. The step-grandpa I lived with passed away while I was in treatment, my other aunt and uncle divorced, and I rarely saw the youngest uncle even though we lived together at Grandma T’s.
After serving a little over a year in prison my aunt was released early for “good” behavior. And then welcomed back into my family.
Let me stop you right there. I cannot imagine there was a big “Welcome Home” banner or a surprise party for her arrival. G-d I hope not. I was told she received intensive therapy as part of her transition home, as well as a few years of parole. Nonetheless she is the one that attends holidays and family gatherings. She is the one who gets to see my family on a regular basis. This woman married (not my blood) to my uncle (my blood).This woman who tried to kill me. I’ve said these words aloud many times, however this is my first time writing them and I’m crying. I swear Grandma T is rolling in her grave. May you Rest in Peace Grandma.
The toughest call I made shortly after my aunt’s release involved my younger cousin’s wedding. I intended on going, but days before the date I knew I couldn’t bear to see my abuser. I told my grandpa I couldn’t attend which caused a huge fight (our only fight). This happened so long ago I’m sure it was a complete misunderstanding, but it definitely still hurt.
Why am I crying now? Maybe because I hear the sayings “family over everything” or “blood is thicker than water.” My grandma taking me in is the only time I believed that. The day my aunt was arrested my other aunt and uncle (the ones that divorced) were asked by the State to take me for the night. It was deemed unsafe and inappropriate for me to be at the house given the situation. Unfortunately, they said no and I was placed into my first official foster home for the night. That aunt has since apologized on several occasions (FYI-not my blood and no longer a part of my biological family, but one of the ones that stayed in touch). I’m not sure why they didn’t or maybe they couldn’t take me. I’m hoping it was for a good reason…Side note, I only stayed at the above mentioned foster home for the night. The following day I returned to my uncle’s and was between there and a friend’s place for several weeks until I moved in with my parents.
I felt complete shock when I found out my aunt was rejoining the family. Something to do with vows. Trust me I understand one’s commitment to another, but up to a point. I think many things can be worked on such as financials, communication, lack of sex, etc. But not abuse, especially not child abuse.
This issue bubbled up for me recently because I’ve seen more of my grandpa in the last few months. Sometimes my aunt’s name is mentioned. Honestly, it’s a dagger into my heart when uttered, but I let it pass. I literally visualize it as something fluid that enters my mind and exits immediately. I do not allow my body to stay tense, nor let me mind run with the panic, nor continue with the short breaths. There’s no point. I can’t change the fact that she is still a part of the family. I’m only in charge of myself and my reactions. After everything I’ve been through it’s just a name, that has no power over me. I instead focus on the time I am spending with my family and I am grateful to have that time. I do however, continue to chose NOT to see her…
So yes, I do believe family over everything, but sometimes that family isn’t the one you are born into. It may not be the same blood pumping through your veins, but it’s definitely the same love. I found this in my parents. They have always been there for me, which I’ve shared here and here. This will be consistently mentioned since I truly cannot thank them enough.
How do you deal with being the black sheep in the family? Do you try to talk about it? Involve them in your life? Or is it something avoided altogether?