I’ve always described myself as the black sheep in my family. I don’t fit in. There is nothing wrong with my family. I don’t have bad parents; they didn’t know what to do with me. We never connected. My eight siblings didn’t share my experience.
I’m not the oldest or the youngest, yet my perception of reality was so different from theirs. We had the same mom and dad, but we saw the world through different colored lenses; mine were darker and much more sinister.
There was nothing wrong
As an adult that strives for self-awareness and emotional intelligence, I can look back and see that my parents did their best. They had no bad intentions. I just felt alone and unloved under their roof. My perceptions of reality alienated me. I was a child experiencing severe depression. It was more my fault than it was theirs. But it’s no one’s fault; it just is.
What about now?
Letting go of my past has been a process. But the present is still here. My parents are still alive, and we speak kindly. From my view, there isn’t any bond to speak of. I know that they love me because I’m their daughter, and of course I love them because they are my parents. But it is just on the surface, skin deep. We love each other out of obligation. We have conversations to keep the little spark alive.
It’s too late to dig deeper, to forge a bond with them. I’m 30 years old, and I’ve moved halfway across the planet to live the life of my dreams. We have nothing in common, and hardly anything to talk about besides the weather and people we know.
Can we fix it?
From my new perspective, there is nothing to fix. It’s not broken. I’ve decided to be grateful that I don’t feel a connection holding me back. Instead of seeing the lack, I’m looking at the space it has opened for me to be free.
Sometimes even the best connections can be like a noose, keeping someone from breaking away and doing what they know is best for them. I am free from my family. There is a minimal obligation to show up for them.
Once every year or two, I make an appearance to say hello. I care about my siblings and even have good relationships with some of them. But they aren’t relationships that require a physical presence.
Why does this mean I’m free?
I don’t worry about what they think or what they would do in my shoes anymore. I don’t have to consider how my actions will make them feel or fill any obligations for their sake. The siblings that accept me do so unconditionally; and the ones that don’t, wouldn’t even if I tried.
I’m free from my family. And maybe even though that has left a little hole in my heart, I’m okay.
But don’t we all need a family?
I still have a family. It just may not fit the societal expectations of what that should mean. I also find ‘family’ wherever I go. I’ve learned how to connect with friends, and I live a good life with meaningful relationships. I don’t blame anyone for the years I spent depressed or unhappy. I know connections are essential for my health and my happiness, but I don’t believe they have to be with my relatives.
My past doesn’t have to control my future. I can be whole. And I can even be grateful for the lack of connection.