6 Sad Reasons Why A Family Creates A Black Sheep

I’m the black sheep of my family,”

said the young man who sat before me in my therapy office. I tried to imagine this adorable, sad young man being the “black sheep” of anything. I couldn’t.

Generally considered the outcast of the family, the black sheep is typically assumed to be an oddball. Furthermore, the rest of the family believes that the black sheep brought this upon himself.

It is true that sometimes the black sheep is indeed “odd” by anyone’s standards (sometimes the result of a hidden mental illness). Or she may be a sociopath who violates the family’s boundaries and care, so that the family has to exclude her to rightfully protect themselves.

But surprisingly, very seldom is either of these scenarios actually the case. Many, many black sheep are lovable folks with much to offer their families and the world. In fact, they are often the best and brightest. They may be the most creative of the family, or the one with the most powerful emotions.

In truth, the world is full of black sheep. Think hard. Does your family have one? This question is not as easy to answer as it may seem, for many black sheep are not physically excluded from the family. For most, it’s much more subtle. The exclusion is emotional. 

Three Signs That Your Family Has a Black Sheep: 

  1. One member often, over a long period of time, seems hurt or angry for no apparent reason.
  2. One person is often, and on a long-term basis, talked about negatively behind his back. “He’s so annoying,” “What a weirdo/disappointment/loser/fill in the blank.”
  3. One member is subtly not invited to certain family occasions or left out of the loop on family news. 

So if most black sheep aren’t actually weirdos who brought their exclusion upon themselves, what would cause a family to treat one of their own this way? The real cause does not lie within any individual family member. No. Instead it’s a product of family dynamics.

Here are the sources that I see most often.

The Six Top Family Dynamics Which Result in a Black Sheep:

  1. The child who has the least in common with the parents. This child sticks out because of his personality, temperament or interests. The parents are baffled by him and inadvertently treat him differently, which spreads to the siblings.
  2. The best and the brightest. This child threatens to outperform or outshine one or both of the parents. Either consciously or unconsciously, the parents sabotage her to hold her back. This way, they won’t lose her and they won’t have to feel badly about themselves in comparison to her.
  3. The child most prone to depression or anxiety. The child with intense or dark feelings or thoughts which the parents cannot understand may frighten them. At a loss about how to help, they may just keep him at a distance.
  4. Sibling rivalry. In this family, there is simply not enough attention or love to go around. One or both of the parents is limited in some way; by mental illness, personality disorder, or substance abuse for example. The siblings must jockey for whatever they can get.
  5. A parent who despises himself deep down. This parent can appear to be quite loving of her children, so she can be difficult to spot. But she is unable to tolerate certain aspects of herself, so she projects those traits onto a chosen child, and despises him instead. It is an unconscious coping mechanism that happens outside of the parent’s awareness.
  6. Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): the child who is the most invisible. In this family, all of the children may get the subtle (or not-so-subtle) message that their feelings don’t matter. But one is better at hiding his own needs, feelings, and self than the others. This child literally disappears from the family’s radar screen and is ignored. He becomes persona non grata. He is the one who matters the least.

With any of the six causes above, the excluded or targeted child senses early on that he must be different, bad or inferior. In a case of self-fulfilling prophecy, he learns to play his role in the family. Often, he plays it very well.

What should you do if you recognize your family in these words? It is indeed difficult to turn around entrenched family dynamics like these.  But you can make a difference:

Choose to see your family through a more complex lens.

Ask yourself: Is this right? Is this the person that I want to be? Is this how I want to treat my sibling or child?

Share this article with chosen members of your family.

Look at your black sheep with fresh eyes and notice what you’ve never seen before.

Open your heart and your little section of the family circle.

Let your black sheep know that you reclaim him.

If you are a Black Sheep:

You are right to be baffled and confused. Nothing is as simple as it has always seemed. Know that you have value. And it is not your fault. Watch for a future post: Message to the Black Sheep of the World.

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how and why it happens, and how it affects all of the children in the family see Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships 

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, see my first book Running on Empty.

This article was originally published on Psychcentral.com and has been republished here with the permission of the author and PsychCentral

Jonice

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Estela - September 14, 2022 Reply

Hi , i looked diferent on my face all my life ,my family called me names and laughed made fun and made of me the joke of the family, i wasent invited to theyre house ,my mother always said that she wouldn’t say anything cus they give here stuff ,my dad was just embarrassed of me he would call me inside and tell me to stay in my brother to i think my brother didn’t like me cus of that ,at a time my bike was stolen from work so i walked home abaout 1 hour walking 2 family members drove by me hanked and drove away ,i was only good to my grandma if i did anything to here other than that i was ugly . I moved far away from everybody its been almost 20 years im still heart broken i love them and miss them actually but still broken till today .

Black Sheep - September 9, 2022 Reply

Maybe the child is the unwanted one because he was the result of the mother being an unfaithful and lying spouse?
Her guilt of her deed causes her to neglect, insult and emotionally abuse this child. The other children see this and think it is how it should be.
Deliberately sabotaging the child’s entire life so he could never outshine the 5 older siblings that were to her husband. From telling him he was not allowed to get straight A’s to making a name for himself or paying the other children to “lose” his homework after he went to bed.

Mytiya - August 30, 2022 Reply

Lisa can you be my family? I need a real mother or even a good friend. I have love and more love to give and i just want memories and a bond with someone that will have me.

mytiya - August 30, 2022 Reply

Hello my name is Mytiya but you can call me tiya(tee-ya) and im a victim of several forms of mental and emotional abuse by practically my whole (small around 8n all in total on moms side) family. First i want to address the fact that i blamed myself for so many years due to the gaslighting/ manipulative behavior my mother and grandmother tortured my with, but also other members telling me its my fault and your a kid, if i had your life/we had nothing growing up/ look at the house(granny helped push suicidal Gpa to actually going for it ironically due to his feeling of emotional, spiritual, mental, psychical neglect as a wife that was supposed to help aid her sick husband(found the secret notes over 20 yrs later expressing how she made him terrified due to him needing help and support with his prostate cancer and all. It seemed as if he was being ignored due to the following notes and letters and his emphasis on certain wording as if he wasnt being heard or understood and was terrified of depending on her he said in others words due to her priorities he is scared to death for the future)) ai if im a rich spoiled “only child” that has it good and is ungrateful. You can already get the gist of the types of “people” that hung around. They reminded me of scavenger birds like crows or vultures that will follow my Gmaw whenever she went so as long as she threw out some old scraps from her collection. Even the thought of possibly being able to ask/borrow money or get some sort of help from her if needed was enough for these clueless leech of people that lacked huge vital portions of morality to even have common sense pertaining to emotional intelligence and relativity to completely ignore the clear signs of emotional and mental abuse and neglect right in there faces. Although she dummed it down tremendously in order to play the victim and make me appear like the big tall bully(they loved to use my height as if i use my height to intimidate intentionally since im “bigger”). Usually my mother would bring up the feature about me that i forget is a thing with me. Im so upset about the lies ,manipulations, mental bull crap games that involve wording and twisting of stories. She is a dirty person when it comes to winning an argument no matter the cost even if she is dead wrong(99.9% of the time) and she is so used to lying to herself and actually living the lie she created in her own fucked up distorted reality that she almost makes herself highly delusional all of this and more just to avoid accepting the severe abuse my gma inflicted on her as a child. She still lives with her at 52 and is a slave to her morally and emotionally. Its sad she actually sacrificed me to her mother to do what she pleased and will defend my grandma at all cost even lying on me about me to me just to defend her. The other day my mother went to the store and i called while she was there to ask a quick harmless question. She assumed the question (which was as innocent as what flavor was that cake on the counter do you remember or know?) involved my granny trying to start some shit and possibly had questions over and that because something harmless like that is a perfect example of granny starting a heel storm of bull ending with her calling 911 when ever i stand up to her abuse and call her out. not even cursing her or be violent in any way she still calls because i put my foot diwn and tell her she is wrong and to please to harassing me if your going to be disrespectful. Anyways although the question wasnt even indicating drama and was clearly harmless my mother started to get angry and aggressive . Why the fuck are you asking about a cake anyways. i said i didnt know(but right after she then said maybe rasp, or straw, uhh idk like rasp van? so i would say try to think mom please? i know you remember something more than nothing since you have changed what you remember) At first she wasnt mean but when she thought about it and realized it could be an argument about to pop up from my sadistic gma that love to watch me suffer she then changed her tone. My mother was prepping to side with my grandmother no matter what happened , no matter the details, and even if i did nothing at all like sit silent what so ever my mother will still be pissed at me because my granny is pissed. I would get abused by my granny and she would treat me very foul and make decisions just to hurt me in creative ways. she wanted to see me scream and cry in agony in pain. my mom would be mad at me for crying and if i went to her for support and love and told her what happened and how bad it hurt she would yell and disregard me leaving me suffering from my granny and now her the pain from both torture and betrayal. no matter how much i would beg them over and over to please please stop they wouldnt. Sometimes it would be one after the other, Then it would sometimes be the same time and others would be them defending eachother for the horrifying behavior. Again thanks for letting pour my pain. im sorry for everyone that has to suffer this forgotten silent killer. We are true strength, We are true love, We are true truth!

    Jonice - August 30, 2022 Reply

    Dear Mytia, I am so very sad to read your story and sorry you went through all of that. I strongly encourage you to find a good therapist to help you work through some of the trauma and neglect you’ve experienced. You deserve someone to validate what you’ve been through and support you to move forward and heal.

Rio J - August 20, 2022 Reply

Human beings are extremely damaged and flawed. Many of us do not know how to properly take care of another person beyond basic physical needs.

Jason - July 23, 2022 Reply

I’m 61 and I’ve know since I was five where I stood in the family. My father died when I was five,supposedly from a long illness. I have four brothers and a sister. The day my father died was hectic in the house and somebody arranged nor all us kids to assemble in the neighbors living room. We lived in a duplex and the neighbor knew of the family situation. So all of us kids were there in the room, some of us on a couch and the older ones standing close by. I remember my sister jumping up and pointing at me saying he’s not crying, why aren’t you crying? I looked up and they were all staring at me as if I committed a crime. Ill never forget that feeling. I guess Inwasnt crying because I was five, confused. I still feel it everyday and I don’t cry, never have. Very often when people ask me a direct question, I feel as if they are attacking me in some way. So, over the years, it didn’t get any better. as an adolescent I was the punching bag for my three older brothers. I was always in pain from their punches, pinches physical abuse. Not sexual abuse, I don’t think. I lived with that treatment for years. At age six the family was moved to a different state where the families of both my parents lived. When I was about fourteen, my mother met a guy and my younger brother and I were ripped from our home again and moved to a different state. He was an alcoholic. I never liked that about him. In always liked the guy except when he was drinking. So, I was just growing up and going to school. We had pets and farm animals so the routine was get up early, take care of the animals, have breakfast and go to school. Eventually I got a job making pizzas at a local shop. One day I came home from work and my mother and her man were sitting on the porch waiting for me. I was told to give up my paycheck or get out. Actually the words were a bit more vulgar __it or get off the pot. Basically, they kicked me out. I stayed in a room above the pizza shop for a while, then begged friends to let me stay with them for a while. I managed to finish high school that way. I bummed around looking for a decent job for a while, then went in the military. After a year I got married. They rejected her, they rejected my child. Its just been horrible. The signs of how much I was hated were everywhere. My mother had a hallway in her apartment where she hung her favorite photos. Never a pic of me, my wife or child. Never. I live within three hours of all my siblings, none stop by , ever. Even though until three years ago, I and my wife went out of our way to participate in weddings, graduations etc. But never a kind word or thanks for gifts etc. Three years ago, I cut them off. And man do I feel good about it ! Mostly. Not really, I actually feel horrible. I feel bad for my wife and kid. They will never feel good strong family ties because I never felt those ties. The cycle continues….

    Jonice - July 26, 2022 Reply

    Dear Jason, my heart goes out to you. It’s very important for you to protect yourself from this level of emotional neglect that is ongoing. I encourage you to contact some of the therapists on my Find A CEN Therapist List on this website until you find one near you who can guide you through this painful family situation.

    Vicki - September 10, 2022 Reply

    My ex-husband is an alcoholic, not born deaf, but accident became deaf, while a year old baby, more or less. His mother gave him the spoiled milk. I never meet his mother. He won’t let me know. I don’t know why. I left him and took two babies with me, and on welfare until they are 18 years old. I’m good so far. I refuse let him visit my kids will learn from him in their future and chaos life. My fault that I married him. How stupid I have done with him. Anyway, If you are my son, I continue blessed you, your wife and your child and move on. I’m happy for you and your family. All my children are hearing, and I’m born deaf. I’m happy for all of them. They are good so far.

      Vicki - September 10, 2022 Reply

      Yes, I forgive my ex-husband and I move on. I learned someone told from the television. I don’t remember what the name of the movie. Anyway, it says, forgive someone and you will be healed, not them, and move on. If you don’t forgive, then you still prison inside unless you let go and be healed. Gotta do it. Find Peace in you.

Lisa - July 16, 2022 Reply

Hi,
I was adopted at an early age in Germany in 1963 by a loving American family. I found out by accident at age 10 or 11. My mom had to kids after I was adopted, when ,
‘The pressure’ was off. We were in the army so spent my childhood moving every 2 or 3 years. My relationships usually last about that long. I am 60 now and have some long term wonderful friends and family, but have never felt that I truly fit in or belong. In my head, I know it’s not true, but that is just how I feel. Most of my life I have been a people pleaser and codependent chasing this sense of belonging. How can I just get comfortable with the fact that this just how I feel and it won’t change? Or is there a way to gain this true inner feeling of belonging?

Thanks

Caddie - July 9, 2022 Reply

I was the black sheep of my family as well…and I couldn’t be any more pleased that I was! Why? Because I was told that I couldn’t do anything right, that I wouldn’t be able to stand on my own two feet, that I would never have any real friends, that I would never be successful. I believed it all, for awhile. But, believing that I could never accomplish anything had it’s UPSIDE. I never had anything to lose by just trying…because I was already a loser, in the eyes of all the female members of my family. If you’re a loser already, you have nothing to lose, by taking a lot of chances. So…I did. I got my college degrees (2 of them), owned three successful businesses, had a great husband, two wonderful daughters. The point I’m trying to make here is that the Black Sheep is always unique in some way…different than the constantly bleating, jealous, arrogant sheep of the family. We’re more capable of handling rejection as well, because we’re used to it. We’re also capable of only going UP, because we were kicked so low. Thank goodness that I was the Black Sheep, or I would have become just like them!

Donnee - June 13, 2022 Reply

It took 70 years and countless years of therapy, workshops, self help groups and books to try to understand and fix what I was told was wrong with me by my FOO.
I had an epiphany a few months ago, after a long night on of intense dreams upon awakening in the morning…”They lied and I am fine!” It is my new mantra and the calmness and sense of power that comes from knowing this completely and without doubt is powerful.
The understanding of just how far reaching and insideous the practice of scapgoating is and how devastating it is to the victim and their families is becoming common in the universal collective consciousness. I am grateful to have learned of this and been released from the bondage of their beliefs before I make my transition.

Kim - June 4, 2022 Reply

The pain never goes away. The anger & resentment from not having a mom like your friends. You don’t ever get over it, you just learn to live with it. To this day I can’t stop working, or being busy, chaotic … being still, taking care of myself … was not hardwired into my brain. Telling yourself, “get over it & move on,” or “you are worthy of taking better care of,” is a lot harder than it sounds. I still hope I won’t die, not getting the concept of forgiveness. But honestly, looks likely.

    Jonice - June 7, 2022 Reply

    Dear Kim, don’t feel pressured to forgive. I wrote a blog about the dangerous trend of “forgiveness” being seen as the solution to all wrongs. I encourage you to focus on understanding how you were affected by how you’ve been treated, having compassion for yourself, and giving yourself what your parents couldn’t/didn’t give you.

      Kris - July 6, 2022 Reply

      Hi Jonice, I’d LOVE to see what you wrote about the dangerous trend of “forgiveness” as the solution to all wrongs. I agree, by the way. Do you have a link? I wrote a book about energy medicine techniques to help victims of sexual assault and I showed it to my pastor. I believe the way the church simply tells victims to forgive and not have a bitter heart is junk. It doesn’t make the wounds go away; wounds which can haunt a person for a lifetime. In any case, my pastor was wholly dismissive of my book, even though I took the time to feature the work of male healers because the church has a history of “having issues” with female healers, even to the point of immolation. In any case, the pastor said “Only God can heal”. Well, I volunteered at a rape crisis center years ago, and if “God can heal”, it wasn’t on the list of recommended therapies. In fact, men of God are sometimes the perpetrators because the rules of sexuality are so rigid and repressive that they are practically impossible to follow, and impulses can break out, causing harm. He told me firmly: The MOST important thing about rape is forgiveness. Really? That’s more important than actual healing or prosecution of the perpetrators. Wow, thanks Pastor. Pretty dismissive of the victim’s suffering. When he told me that last bit a little spark of wickedness was in his eye. I saw it without a doubt. Then, he went into his sermon which was about a school shooting where a girl saw 4 of her friends gunned down, and she was left as a quadriplegic. The Pastor preached that because the girl had the Holy Spirit she was instantly able to forgive, and became an anti-gun advocate. I don’t know about you, but something seems so extreme in his interpretation of how things should be that it left me with a feeling of disgust.

M - May 29, 2022 Reply

I understand how y’all feel. I’ve always been a “black sheep” too. The weirdo, the misfit, etc.

You have to realize that it has nothing to do with you. They are the ones choosing to treat you this way.
I think in my case, they have some personal issues that they took out on me.
I’m not perfect…but I do think that how they treated me is a reflection of them, not me.

I also think that within my family, on my mom’s side, they have a problem with my father’s side of the family.
Not sure why…but this contempt spilled over into how they treated me.
No other member of the family is viewed in this way except me. I actually wondered if I was adopted, but a DNA test proved otherwise.

I took the test because I wanted to know more about my background, but also because I needed to explain (to myself) if there was some family secret that they all knew.
Like maybe I was a product of rape or not a real part of the family at all, or some terrible secret.
All I know is that growing up, I didn’t fit in with them (or anyone for that matter).
I looked different and they thought I acted different…therefore they didn’t like me.

At almost 40 now, I’ve learned to see that this lifetime of rejection was never about me.
If you know that you try to be kind to others, to be a loving and caring person, and people STILL treat you as though you are unworthy…please remember that it’s not about you. It never was.
You are on this planet to learn, to enjoy life and what it has to offer, and to show love to others (and to yourself).

Lauren - May 18, 2022 Reply

My older sibling is a blessing. Four grown children, son and daughter-in law, two grandchildren, successful career and marriage, true integrity. The black sheep here has had legal troubles, many marginal employment dismissals, zero promotions, zero relations, no children. A loners life punctuated by chronic depression, its difficult to feel anything but being a black sheep. That’s the way it goes, I suppose.

    M - May 29, 2022 Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m in the same boat as you. I think that in some ways, the problems we have are because we were scapegoated…we weren’t encouraged or supported to reach our full potential.

    You’re right, it is indeed a loner’s life punctuated by chronic depression. Is there anything that brings you comfort or joy?

    Mae - June 6, 2022 Reply

    Hello. One of seven children. Scapegoat to them all. Parents and paternal parents. My momma told me my daddy was not my daddy. I was born in 1952. DNA had his family a
    as my relatives in 2016. About five days ago, I got his Haplogroup DNA ! I see the downers they seeded in all of us flock of black sheep as jealousy. We aren’t fitting in. I still get uninvited. My sister’s wedding photos I saw in a family room today for the very first time ever. Siblings did what the parents wanted them to do. I survied by being stubborn a Therapist told me. She told me I was a very determined woman. I was blessed to have a neighbor named MIldred. I would be so messed up if I didn’t have her as a role model.

LD - April 21, 2022 Reply

I am the black sheep and no matter how hard I try to succeed or make my family proud or like me, they just do not. In high school I got straight As in all AP and honors courses, was a member of every club and honor society I could join, participated in Football, Rugby, Chess, Scholastic bowl and Theater. I’m the only one who graduated college in my family (almost full ride scholarship, and also the only one who has ever gone), I have a good job and a nice title. I am engaged and my fiances family loves me. Despite this, I am seldom invited to gatherings, my extended family wants nothing to do with me, my immediate family all treat me with contempt. My sisters all seem to never have to earn any love or care, they had kids early and made my parents raise them. They never worked a job or went to school. They never had to get good grades or do anything to maintain themselves. Whatever they need in terms of help, they get. For years I’ve watched them bend over backwards to raise my siblings’ children with a smile, yet show me nothing but disdain or at best, indifference. I’ve lived my entire life with the express purpose of impressing my parents and making it easy for them to love me like they love my siblings, but I don’t think anything I ever do will make that happen. I think I am going to try and see a therapist after reading this article because I need to unpack how 4/6 of the bottom points directly relate to my life.

Alan Jr - April 7, 2022 Reply

I have never referred to myself as the “Black sheep” but have sensed that is how my immediate family see me. Yes, I was always the one with ‘Why?’ on my lips. I believe this is reason why my father yelled and screamed and physically abused me, was because I always asking Why? He grew up in a very poor home and had dyslexia. And he never accepted anyone’s service to him. It always had to be, ‘his way’. (He had a champagne taste on a beer budget’). ’Which is why he alway fought with everybody, and why, he and I always ‘bucked heads’. (which none of my sibs or mother did). I began to stand up to him, when I got into my 20s. I believe he took me as rebellious and not simply expressing my opinion.

When I was 9 years old, my parents took me to a psychologist. After I chatted with the doctor, I was asked to wait in the waiting room and play with the toys, while he talked with them. But it was my nature to spy on them. So I listen in at the door, because it was ajar. My parents asked, ‘What is wrong with him?’ The doctor said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with him! He is a normal, 9 year old boy, with a lot of energy and curiosity. Which my parents didn’t want to hear!

My mother always blamed me for her bad back, because she fell down a flight of stairs, while she was carrying me. She never expressed love to me. She never changed the sheets on my bed, which were always dirty and torn easily.

I have an older sister and a younger sister and brother. The latter two graduated from college. My older sister and I have no training or academic education. We’re always struggling financially. I usually spend my ‘free time’ reading and studying, rather than watching TV or playing video games. I am still curious. Always ‘finding out’ something new.

Here’s my Point: My parents and siblings all treat me as inferior, which infuriates me. Yes, I am smart, even though I do not have an academic education. I am cautious not to flaunt my intelligence. Yes, I am still full of energy and wonder. Even though my body is 63 years old, and is racked with pain, I still am asking, why?

Alan Jr - April 7, 2022 Reply

My parents and siblings all treat me as inferior, which infuriates me. Yes, I am smart, even though I do not have an academic education. I am self-taught. I am cautious not to flaunt my intelligence. I have always been full of energy and wonder.

Barb - March 29, 2022 Reply

I can remember since a young age that I was treated different. I ran away from home at 16, and stayed away for years. I reconnected with my sister, and started interacting with my family again. My mother had a stroke, and needed care in a nursing facility. When my mother died the family was different. My sister who I connected with starting talking behind my back to the rest of the family. I was hurt, and started withdrawing from all of them. It was a grieving process, but now I am I just neutral to them. I no longer feel angry, or hurt.

Beth - February 27, 2022 Reply

I too am the black sheep of my family which I still find so perplexing. I’ve lived such a straight-laced life for the most part! I was the oldest of 5. My mother had a lot of emotional problems. She became pregnant with me as a teenager and married my dad just after high school graduation. My mother’s moods swung back and forth and for some reason, I became the target of many of her bad moods. The other kids followed after her, (I think that they were relieved to not be the target themselves). My dad would spend extra time with me, but I never heard him speak out on my behalf. My mother resented the extra time that my dad spent with me which also became an issue. I finally grew up and went to college 3000 miles away. I was close to my dad but he passed away. Over the years I have tried to have relationships with each of my siblings and with my mother, but it has been very difficult. I could write a novel of detail here but will keep it brief… I tried for so many years to prove that I was as good as the rest of them. It has been exhausting. I spent years on a graduate degree. I work in a service field with cancer patients and doing cancer research. I have done years of volunteer work and I do a lot of animal rescue. I learned how to play the piano, (I begged my parents for lessons as a kid). I have tried to become cultured, and speak more than one language. I’m the only child who has never experimented with drugs. I don’t even drink. But nothing that I ever do is good enough. They make comments about how I’m not married and how I don’t have kids, (so I can’t possibly know what it’s like to love anyone other than myself), and about how I always work. They get upset that I don’t visit more yet none of my siblings have made any attempts to come and visit me. I work 10 hour days and have some fairly serious medical conditions, (which they seem to ignore). I get left out of family functions, and always get the sense that I’m not really included. It’s a really crappy feeling. I’m probably the most quiet of the siblings and I tend to avoid conflict. I recently sent my sister a letter about how I feel — so far crickets… I have been going to counseling and decided that it’s just not worth putting myself in the position to be the family ‘bastard’ anymore. Nothing that I will ever do will matter to them or suddenly make me fit in or belong with them. The really sad thing is that I was unable to have a family of my own so it gets really lonely. No matter how hard I try, I still have nagging doubts about myself — if your own family doesn’t like you, who will? So I stay really engrossed in my work, and with animal rescue. Animals love you unconditionally for who you are. I sometimes wish that I could forget about all of them and wonder if that would make me happier, but I think about them and worry about them. I hope that they’re successful and doing well. At this point, I’m not sure that there’s much more to do.

Jennifer - February 9, 2022 Reply

Makuye thank you so much for your comment. It truly resonated with me. Resentment can be deadly. I felt sorry for myself for years over my situation and drank and drugged because of it. I had to pull myself out of a very dark hole. I almost didn’t survive it. Happy to say I’m three and a half years sober and building on myself every day. I cannot change other people. What they think about me is none of my business. All I can do is put one foot in front of the other, do the next right thing, and become the best version of me possible. I stopped seeking my worthiness from other people. It is an inside job.

Again, thank you.

Jennifer

Makuye - December 12, 2021 Reply

While CEN is multigenerational – passed on and on, what keeps it persistent is clearly resentment – THAT is the killer of healing, the preventer.

We read the comments focusing solely upon themselves and their suffering with NO recognition of that of those so weak and untaught who have become impossibly isolated emotionally.

And, though I have experienced rejection and nonresponse to pleas for mere communication since age four to six, having to live as if orphan does NOT mean that our response should EVER be “I am hurt”, as there is NO viable explanation for others’ rejection other than that they experience some unwillingness to be or restore familial love.

To those who are focused solely on their own pain, I suggest approaching others with greater innocence and trust, and RECOGNIZING that those who seem to have no interest are otherwise stressed, and cannot overcome their own blocking fear of expression.

I only periodically reach out to family, awaiting their development of courage never taught to us.

Only our grandmother developed nonblaming, and though she did not succeed (her son was an emotionally cruel man, scarred so by war that he rejected all who disagreed with hm, living in angry alcoholic stupor and burping out meanness).

DO NOT feel sorry for YOURSELF. You may not at all have been subject to the violence that another has(I WAS aware that I WAS his exclusionary target, but it took discovery that my sister was and remains FAR more deeply scarred, unable to reach out, even modeling coldness and rejection to HER children, who retain that trait. My mother left her natal family, retaining resentment for forty years, and demeaning any emotional response in her own children – IMAGINE how impoverished one who does THAT, c0mpared to your own lack!

Although I made it a POINT to reach out to mother privately to assist her in overcoming her coldness, and to those who could not express – I had read Dr. Webb’s books, and FORMED a DETERMINATION to never exhibit any attitudes of, or inducing, rejection or resentment,
I have not been successful.

Every other family member also suffers from the coldness, even though THEY cannot [yet] overcome their culturally-induced norm of coldness, alcohol, busyness.

Life, and YOU are immensely beautiful – follow THIS beauty.

We cannot know tomorrow; we can only shape ourselves with trust and kindness.

Creating persistent narratives of our OWN hurt are not conducive to the basic courage, the THING WE NEED to live WITHOUT resentment.

Be KIND to yourself, and you will radiate sufficient kindness for others to gain the courage they need to see beyond their OWN resentment, to THEIR starving and ignored better feelings.

    Jonice - December 12, 2021 Reply

    Dear Makuye, I do think that resentment/anger is a natural part of the healing process and it does have value. The problem comes when it’s not accepted and worked through. If it turns into long-term bitterness or victim stance, then it does become a huge hindrance to healing. I’m sorry you’ve had to endure so much. Thank you for your thoughtful words.

Kelly - December 9, 2021 Reply

Thnku for sharing this story. I resignate with some points and have similar issues still today . I still have trust issues with my 2 younger siblings who both got me on drugs and prescribed medications.

I have bn drug free for 5 to 8 or 9yrs and completely off all prescribed medications…

I found dealing with myself as the outsider of the family was to take a journey on my own out on country and find peace and acceptance that every family isn’t perfect..

I have found that using my time to heal and work out that I’m not any different than any other sibling or child who felt unwanted in not 1 family but both sides..

I have found some amazing women to share some of my story and find who I really am today…

I’m now working on some activities and plans to help bring peace and acceptance to other families who have had breakdowns in the relationships and family ties.

I hope all siblings and children within their families who r feeling unwanted, U maybe weren’t meant to fit in. We all have our own destiny and is for others to respect who we are as individuals regard if we r family or not…

Maybe in the near future others will do the same for themselves too

H - November 25, 2021 Reply

Thank you for this.

Melissa - November 22, 2021 Reply

Surprise this isn’t mentioned I’m the black sheep of my family. I never fit in I definitely wasn’t suppose to exist I’m close to my Dad and his side only.
My siblings and my Mum are like perfect strangers my sisters have a close bond same with my brothers and me by myself I’m the youngest of the family. I never did drugs like my mum and siblings It felt like I was brought up as an only child at times I had no one and it hurts.
I suffered a serious miscarriage it was brutal and no family nothing I was by myself and felt so alone I got one txt message from my sister who tried to help get my other sister has an early miscarriage has already has children and the entire family gathers to help her by watching the children making sure she not alone as she didn’t want a miscarriage like mine wtf. It still pisses me off how little they treat me I needed them and I had nothing absolutely nothing.

There more like recently my sister moving away had a family gathering but I wasn’t invited well thanks to prove I’m not family my boys would of liked to say goodbye to their cousins. But nup nothing heard how great it is but honestly it really hurts.

James Wilkinson - November 17, 2021 Reply

This is a very sexist web page… All the good people are she’s and the bad people are he’s are only men capable of these bad things and are only women capable of nice things

    Jonice - November 17, 2021 Reply

    Dear James, I re-read my post to see if it paints men as bad and women as good. I think if you re-read it, you’ll see it’s not there.

    Melissa - November 22, 2021 Reply

    Women aren’t nice the most horrible people in my family are females especially my mother.

      Jonice - November 22, 2021 Reply

      Dear Melissa and James, I would say that neither gender can be described as “nice,” as there is a great deal of variability among members of both genders.

        Jackie - November 27, 2021 Reply

        Dear jonice– a helpful article on being the black sheep, although I prefer the term scapegoat. Many of your comments apply directly to my childhood. I am separated from my spouse. However my ex and kids are invited to attend a big family dinner tonight— at my brother’s home and I am not–its pretty fresh. My daughter told me last night because she thought I knew..?so my ex seems to deliberately not told me. So I am persona non grata.

          Amanda - December 2, 2021 Reply

          Jackie my family did the same- invited this man on family vacations, to dinners. I left him for abuse, and my sister’s and brothers sided with him and I was ostracized. Not one of them even called or reached out to ask why I left or if I was okay. It was horrible. I felt so alone and couldn’t understand why they hated me and talked such shit behind my back and acted as if I don’t exist.

Meme - October 24, 2021 Reply

I am the black sheep in my family and I want to to move on. Family dynamics I am the youngest the smartest most creative and loving also most successful without any support. My mom favorite daughter took all of her attention leaving me without any. I really think my mom hated me. Gaslighting being dismisive non supporting. I can’t remember my mom ever giving me a hug. I want to move on. I am so hard on myself. It’s true I had to realize it and it took over 40 years to believe it.
I am not told anything yet they copy everything I do. Never giving me any credit or praise. Yet they praise or support each other. To conclude it’s cruel when your parent and family dont respect or celebrate you. God Bless them I am out. Never again I am going to let toxic people family or non family members dump on me again. I am not a trash can.

    Jessica - November 8, 2021 Reply

    I can completely relate to you. I do more, care more and have the most empathy but in return I have a sibling that gets praised and is the golden child bc he mimicks my mother’s personality. Cares more about what others think of them (in their circle) more than their family members feelings. They both have always been emotionally immature.

    It causes me anxiety overload and dysfunctional outbursts with my mother because I have so much resentment in my heart.

    Lisa - November 11, 2021 Reply

    jonice,

    your article is wonderful! And it completely sounds like me and my life. I started to realize something was different at a younger age but now that I’m older more educated I can see it exactly for what it is. I always had substance-abuse issues however I still managed to get through undergrad and graduate school and I think they hated that cuz they real trouble started after I got my master’s degree. and then I noticed how I realized that my mother was completely immature drama queen and usually cold as ice. my father had drinking problem and an infidelity problem and him and my mother were miserable 4th of them. and all we did was move to different towns my dad would build a house we move into it couple years later my mother bored would discuss with my father building another house somewhere else and we would move into there and everything was exactly the same only in a different house. in my early twenties I decided I wanted to go to college and my parents didn’t go and nobody knew how to acclimate and I was left on my own to figure it out. I usually work full-time and went to school at night until class came up that I couldn’t go at night so I had to take the day and change my job and my parents would never let me come home so he can help me out with that I end up sleeping on Friends couches while she let my cousin live with them for about 6 months for free. it’s so clear what goes on now and I can finally say that has nothing to do with me the good part is i I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world. of course that bugs them all even more.

HannahRose - September 28, 2021 Reply

I am the black sheep but for a reason that is not listed. I am adopted by my biological mothers youngest sister. In my family I was the first born grandchild after it was found out my mother couldn’t take care of me I was placed with my aunt and her new husband at the time because my grandparents didn’t want to loose me. After I was adopted they had a three more kids. One who was a still born boy who seems like he was replaced by my youngest half brother so he never got treated any different. I was always told I’m different, I can’t do anything right and all sorts of other mean stuff. My sisters and brother always got treated like gold. I think I got treated differently because I look like my biological mother and not part of that family.

    Kelly - October 28, 2021 Reply

    I’m sorry and I understand what it feels like to feel like there is something wrong with you because of your family.

Jimmy - September 24, 2021 Reply

Most of my family stop talking to me or even acknowledging that I existed in 2008. When I returned from Iraq I was diagnosed with ptsd and slight bit of brain damage. Which makes me an embarrassment to the family. Because i am different now (in my head) . I wish I didn’t embarrass them , because I miss them. It make me sad a little when I see all them post pictures on Facebook of them having a great time. Only 1 of my sisters except my friend request. So now I’m able to see them in pictures again. I wish sometimes that I never came back from Iraq it would have been better I think

    Grace - November 24, 2021 Reply

    Jimmy, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. Thank you for your service and sending you a lot of love. Keep strong❤.

Ellese - September 19, 2021 Reply

I’m the black sheep. I’m the gay and depressed one with anxiety, I’m better than my brother at school but he is the one that gets awards for his work while I stand back and watch. I’m the one my mom can relese her problems on because apparently I can “hold and take trauma” I have been told by my family that I’m too quiet but when I try to speak they tell me to shut up. I can’t go anywhere because I’m underage and can’t go anywhere else.
I think with all my heart that there must be SOMETHING wrong with me. I honestly just want them to tell me why they hate me so maybe I could change because all I want is for them to say ‘I love you’ but at this point I don’t think it’s ever gonna happen

    Grace - November 24, 2021 Reply

    There is nothing wrong with you, they are the ones with the problems. Keep focused on what makes you happy, focus on school, and learning, not on anyone who hurts you or makes you sad. Most of all…..BE YOURSELF, if someone doesn’t like it, can’t understand it, doesn’t appreciate it…again, its their problem and don’t let anyone, family or not treat you like crap! Don’t wait for “I love you” from them, it will come in all different forms from all different people (animals, too). I care, I love you and you are going to be fine ❤

    Claire - December 25, 2021 Reply

    Hey there your comment struck me. You may not hear I love you from them,do not wait. Something inside them is perhaps broken and it pains you so much because you are not and that is a gift because it means you are capable of giving and receiving love. Depression just means your alive! It’s a sign your working and you have the ability to feel life it’s highs and lows. You will truly appreciate love when you do receive it.as the previous poster said it can come in many forms and it’s not always from our immediate family. I think it’s important though to not close your self off from the world( or to stick in a mindset of sadness) and to keep being a loving person yourself. And remember you are worthy and all the love you don’t get try give as much as you can to yourself. in the way you imagine a nurturing family would. in hard time I would try and imagine myself from far away watching myself and would try to guide my actions based on what I think someone who cared about me would guide me to act upon( even if it’s just getting up and brushing my teeth) good luck and God bless.

April - September 7, 2021 Reply

I’m a black sheep too. In our family it seems the females members are the black sheep.. my mom was, I am, and now my daughter is as well. The younger years life seemed nice and normal but my mom married my step dad who was an alcoholic who couldn’t hold a job when I was in Kindergarten, it was about this time also that all of my moms time and attention went to him. That was the beginning of my mom becoming the black sheep of the family as well. As I grew older, getting into puberty, as a lot of girls tend to do, I wanted to do what I wanted to do, I also began struggling with depression and impulse control issues. I’m sure I wasn’t your perfect example of a teenage girl but the harm was all done to myself. I soon was also a black sheep of our family. I have 2 brothers and neither is perfect as well but family still interacts and acknowledges them. I tried for a few years to fit in with them as I grew up and had a family of my own but my life still wasn’t the perfect life and despite how hard I tried it was still a bumpy road. There I am a single mom with 2 kids and not going places. My self esteem was crap. My stepfather passed suddenly at 37 years old due to alcohol. Sadly because of my family’s dislike for him, they really didnt acknowledge the impact of the loss for my mom and never offered her any help or support. My youngest brother was my step dads son, he was 11 when he died. My mom was devoted in making sure he was happy and had everything from there on out. She did so too. But she also has managed to slowly push me and my other brother out, we have never seen or received the amount of affection or attention from my mom as baby bro did, which continues to this day… it it not abnormal for my mother to not call us for over a year. My blood bro (will call for these purposes) however still has the support of the extended family as they took him in while he was in middle school and I remained with my mom.
For 15 or so years I tried to be normal with my family and participate but you can only ignore the clear dislike of your appearance before you dont even try. That’s where I am today. My daughter is at the stage where I became the black sheep, doing stupid teenage girl stuff. Not surprisingly they have given her the shaft as well. I however unlike my mom strive to keep a relationship with her, even if rocky at times. Some people might say I deserved to be written off by family, I was kind of a pain in the ass at times.. but to that I say .. isnt that the time when family should be supportive, even just mentally. The complex I give myself because I feel so alone in life just adds to my depression. It’s sad not having a single guest over for Christmas or Thanksgiving. To send a Christmas for 10 years straight to never get one back. To invite family over and no one replies. In 20 years besides my mom and grandma, none have been to my house!!
I’m actually convinced theres something wrong with me.. no one really seems to like me. I’m sure if I disappeared only my husband and daughter would notice. For years I didn’t let it bother me but now it makes me wish I could disappear. The rejection while trying hurts the heart and feelings so much more.

    Jamar - September 16, 2021 Reply

    April,
    You did such a great job articulating your experience that I feel you will find your way AND go on to help OTHERS! Reading your story has already helped me on my path to healing.

    CJ - October 29, 2021 Reply

    April,

    I feel the same as you. No one would notice if I disappeared unless of course it was my husband or sons. It absolutely breaks my heart. I don’t want to be around them at all anymore after discovering the bashing going on behind my back. I feel like I’m the joke of the family. No one even listens when I speak nor do they seem to care.

Crystal - September 2, 2021 Reply

I am the black sheep of my family my mother doesn’t like me but like to vent to me Becuz I’m the only on that listen my dad also vent to me but never want me around I have two brothers I care about I try my best to be the best I could I never was in the streets at a young age I went to church even the church people wish bad on my but I’m so determined to make it somewhere and finally be happy I keep pushing god is keeping me here I have tried to commit suicide multiple times cuz of the way they treat me since I learned how to cook my mom stop cook I have to cook all of our meals when my brothers are not at home even when they are I always have to clean up everything I got my first job at 15 and everytime I got my check both parents call to get money from me I always bought them Christmas presents birthday presents and mother and Father’s Day gifts cuz Ik grown ups would like money to be spent on them my dad use anything I buy to paint in or use it as a ash tray my mom never where the stuff I buy her and she pick it out herself when we where going through rough times my mom left us and we had to go stay wit my dad everyday wen I got out of school me and my dad would argue all the way home because he thinks I’m a hoe and says I’m going to get pregnant always accusing my of doing something when they don’t know I’ve been raped more than 3times. Since the age of 10 to 16 i am 16 now and the last person to rape me was my own brother and he saw I started crying and all he said to me was don’t tell nobody I have no support system wat so ever I try to keep a job but I never have transportation never can get to work my dad has a car he don’t never wanna take me the rest of my family don’t care if im dead or gone finally got pregnant at 16 like they said and ended up loosing it Becuz the daddy didn’t wanna raise it or help me and I had got into a wreck while I was pregnant and stress I saw my baby heart well what supposed to be it’s heart and it hurts everytime I think about it my life is a living hell and I have no one by my side I have no friends I have no support no family don’t nobody like me and idk why wen I try to get they approval but I will never be good enough I will always be a black sheep and I can’t change what I don’t kno is wrong so I’m jus going to play my role tired of trying so hard to get knocked back by the ppl I care about I’m only 16 out here trying my fucking best but the lord got me he has been helping me a lot with my problems and I am thankful to have him in my life

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