I have long considered myself the black sheep of the family. I am not the "obvious" black sheep. I am not covered in tattoos and piercings. I don't worship the devil. I am not a Liberal. I haven't had children out of wedlock. I don't smoke and drink excessively or do drugs. I don't have a mouth like a sailor. All of these things would be the OBVIOUS ways I'd be a black sheep in my family. It all really came to fruition in 2002...
(Side note edit...The above reasons are what is not the norm in MY family. Not saying tattoos, piercings, liberalism, or devil worshipping makes everyone a black sheep)
My father has an anger problem. My dads side of the family is full of hot heads which is where I get a "tinge" of my frustration, though being honest I truly don't get crazy angry. Anyway, it was Christmas Eve 2002 and I burned gingerbread cookies. I was also running around my dads apartment with my new puppy. This made him angry. So angry, he put his hands around my neck and choked me. Scary situation for a 17 year old. Truth be told, he had done it once before when I was four years old and never did again. At this point, I could care less what consequences he suffered as I was 3 months away from being an adult. But, the fact of the matter was I was still a minor and Department of Children & Families stepped in and the sheriff's department came and arrested him during "It's A Wonderful Life" that evening. He spent his Christmas Eve in jail and part of his Christmas Day. My family came to bail him out and that was that.
I had a restraining order against him for some time and though it wasn't up to me, was completely compliant with pressing charges to the fullest extent of the law. If he had to sit in prison for a few years, it was fine with me. The law is the law and you just don't break it...especially twice. This enraged my family. "How could you do this? He's your FATHER!?" "How could you want him to go to prison!?!" Umm...pardon me but perhaps HE should have thought of that before losing control and CHOOSING to put his hands on me. You can see why there is a rift.
All has been forgiven between my father and I and we have a good relationship. However, it still doesn't erase the tension that remains in my family from all of those years ago. You'd think after 9 years and it really being none of their business they'd get over it by now. Not mi familia!
Anyway, really since that episode I felt like the black sheep. The odd one out. The one who didn't belong. My family is a family of jokesters, pranksters, tricksters. Sometimes the jokes can be downright cruel. They like to rag on the quieter more delicate ones of the family and I'm always the one to stick up for them. They did it to my blessed great grandmother, they do it to my great uncle, and they did it to my step-grandfather. They don't mean any harm by it, it's just a rough/dry sense of humor.
I also remember letting a curse word fly once and my uncle allegedly pulling my father aside to say how inappropriate that was. I was like 20 or something. Well over adult age. On my 21st birthday, we had a BBQ at my house...and I wasn't allowed to have a beer. It made my dad "look bad" and my uncle would have had a fit. Since when was it wrong for a 21 year old to have a SINGLE BEER with her BBQ on her birthday? All of a sudden I'm an alcoholic in my families eyes I guess. Anyway, you can kinda see where I'm going.
I was watching a DVR'd episode of Oprah today in which she was speaking with the family of a child who has extreme rage issues. Towards the end of the episode she said this:
"Years ago, someone on this show...we were doing a show about families and someone said, "There is no such thing as a black sheep." The black sheep is always the most sensitive person in the family who takes on all of the energy and dynamics of the rest of the family and it shows up in the person that they call the black sheep. But usually the black sheep is the one who is the most sensitive."
This totally clicked with me. In life in general, I feel I'm always the person sensitive to others and their needs. I think of others before I think of myself. I like to be the one to defend the weak and the ones who need. I absolutely feel like I take on the energy and negativity from my family. I don't quite know how to do otherwise, but I know I'm learning just by establishing boundaries. Acknowledging what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in my world with my family. It's something I haven't done until very recently and it absolutely has simplified my life.