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Nobody ever takes the time to consider, to think, about that one member of the family that everyone likes to pretend doesn't exist.
The black sheep.
Somehow the black sheep always get caught up in drugs, alcohol, or jail. The truth is, however, it is the family's indifference to us, we the unimportant family member, suddenly stripped of our right to be treated with the same respect and dignity as anyone else we are related to, that leads us to drugs, alcohol, and maybe jail. Nobody ever stops to consider that.
But why would I expect you, you the people who are loved and desired by those around you, you who are family-worthy to ever consider that? How could people like you ever understand people like me?
There comes a certain joy with being the first-born in a family: new toys, clothes, and all the affection from your parents. After siblings come along, you don't really mind sharing your parents, your toys, and giving them the clothes you've outgrown. You instinctively take your role as the leader, the protector, and the resulting love and admiration from your younger siblings provokes a happiness within you that is almost impossible to describe.
As the years go by, our parents create these unrealistic expectations of us, that we will remain the same. Obedient little robots, ready to comply without question, ready to hand over our decision-making privileges to the grown-ups. Everything from what we wear to what we eat is controlled by our parents in early childhood. It is the mark of growing up to try to take charge of these decisions. Some parents welcome this change graciously, proud to accept the fact that their child is growing up and starting to make choices, however small and insignificant those choices may be. My parents are not such people.
My mother, specifically, is a bit of a control freak. I was thirteen and still subject to being told what to wear, what to eat, when to sleep, when to wake up, how to wear my hair, and everything in between. As a naturally independent person, I could not understand why I could not choose things for myself. Within myself I have always sensed a desire for a slightly darker edge to my clothing. I did not enjoy wearing anything in color, it made me feel uncomfortable, like I wanted to get out of my own skin because I did not belong. I will go as far as comparing it to how a boy would feel would you make him wear a dress. Little by little, I was able to change my wardrobe. Colors began disappearing and I was left with all black and the occasional gray. I was finally happy, after a life of conforming to my parents' desires of perfect grades, perfect hair, perfect clothes. I finally felt like myself.
And my parents hated it.
As with anyone entering puberty, this became a time where many arguments broke out between my parents and I. My brother, who was very protective of my mother, began to slowly lose respect for me and did not hesitate to show it. My father would not tolerate any argument between my mother and I. Anytime my mother and I began to argue, my brother would start yelling at me to shut up, telling me how much he could not stand me and, no matter what I said, he would just shout over me and eventually I would dissolve
into tears. He could scream as many curse words as he liked at me during those episodes, and nobody did a thing. My father would usually come in right after, warning me to shut my mouth and leave my mother alone. My sister, about three years old at the time I was thirteen, said nothing, oblivious to the situation. It always ended the same. I would leave to my room and sit on my bed, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Yes, I had argued with my mother. Yes, I had been rude. I did not know what I had done to deserve those ugly words from my brother, however. I did not know what I had done to deserve such indifference from my father. I slowly sank into depression.
As a child, I was sexually abused by an older cousin. This abuse started at about the time I was six years old and did not stop until I was fourteen. This only deepened my depression. I eventually resorted to self harm.
And then drugs.
Nobody ever wonders why people do something. It seems to only matter that they did it and that's it. That's what I find particularly repulsive about human nature. Punish, punish, punish. Nobody ever asks why. Nobody cares why. It's as simple as that.
By the time I was seventeen, I had already tried numerous methods of gaining back the respect I had lost from my family. I had attempted to once again obtain perfect grades my freshman year of high school without success. Next I had joined JROTC. It worked for a while, until my parents realized the amount of meetings, fundraisers, and practises that there was. I loved it, I thrived in the environment. I decided to join the military. They were proud of my decision, but were hardly eager to help me fill out paperwork and take me to the recruiter's office every time I needed to go.
It finally got to a point where, after my grandmother's death and my graduation from high school, I had fully become the black sheep of the family. My awkwardness about showing affection, my lack of knowing how to lend a word of comfort were just some of the things that contributed to what was to happen. Over the years, the lack of respect, the yelling, the pressure of constantly being singled out from my siblings made it so that my natural affections towards my family pretty much expired.
It is an empty existense, to be the black sheep of the family. You wander around your own home like a ghost, like a being of a subhuman level. You are no better than the cat that walks around quietly. Nobody makes you dinner anymore, nobody washes your clothes. Nobody speaks to you or acknowledges the fact that you have just spoken, dismissing your voice as nothing more than the annoying buzz of a fly.
Your smile slowly fades from your lips, and a heaviness takes over you. A heaviness that settles in the center of your chest and hurts you deeply. You feel on edge and on the brink of tears every day, and nothing is really worth doing. Your goals grow hazy, and you rely on only one person to help you through it all.
But boyfriends aren't magic. They can only listen to you so much. Nobody seems to understand just how much this hurts you. The feeling of not being important is one that eats you from the inside out and you don't know what to do with your own pain.
But what can you do when you have fallen from the position you grew to be accustomed to? Every day is a silent torture, and you can think of nothing but leaving the place and the people you grew up with. It would almost be worth the homelessness and the desperation of being on your own. It would almost be worth abandoning everything you have ever known, of sacrificing what could have been and starting fresh somewhere else.
But everyone tells you to hold on, just a little longer before you leave for Basic Training. Deep in your heart, you know, however, that you cannot wait those two months. You know that arriving at Basic miserable would be a mistake, and that soon, you must leave.
You cannot stay here, in your home, where you are a stranger. A lonely stranger with no ties to the people living in this place they, too, call home. You have less than forty dollars to your name and nothing else. In an effort to control you, your parents always refused to help you learn the tools to help you succeed as an adult. You cannot drive, you do not have a legal ID, you are not allowed to leave the house for just anything. You are trapped.
But it doesn't matter. Because no one ever considers that family member they pretend doesn't exist.