black sheep of family

 

 Every family is a system and the essential characteristic of any system is its tendency towards stability. Stability is therefore one of the basic conditions for the survival of a family, because any lasting instability can endanger its members, first emotionally and then physically, thereby threatening the subsistence of the family as a whole. However, in their seeking after stability people tend to resort to various means. Sometimes they adapt to new circumstances and change, but equally often they resist any sort of change, thinking that stability can only be maintained through the status quo. Many indicators show that true stability can only be achieved and maintained through readiness for change. So, although this fact sounds paradoxical (“change” as the precondition of “stability”?), the essence of evolution theory itself is precisely in the adaptation of a certain species to new circumstances. Species which don’t evolve become extinct sooner or later, and if we apply this statement to human beings, then people who do not change during their lifetime can easily fail and miss the very essence of their existence. Unfortunately, instead of seeing their problems as a means of personal development and improvement, most people defend themselves from life’s challenges by any means possible, thinking that problems are here to destroy their inner peace and stability. No, it is precisely the blocking of any change which threatens our stability, and also the stability of the family as a system.

So, protecting our own family from life’s challenges by locking up, building defensive walls and resisting any change will simply not help. On the contrary, it will seriously endanger it. All living beings develop by learning from their own mistakes, faults and problems, as well as by confronting undesirable external influences. Threatening circumstances actually initiate change, because we cannot overcome them with old ways of thinking or with obsolete lifestyles. Successfully mastering an unpleasant experience imposed by life’s circumstances ultimately enables us to transcend our former level of consciousness and consequently to overpower the limitations of the old system of thinking and behavior. On the other hand, resistance to learning life’s lessons, to development and change, accumulates a certain quantity of negative energy in people. This negativity is manifested through negative emotional states and thoughts formed into prejudice and limiting beliefs, some of them conscious and most of them unconscious.

As a developing being, man enters his life with a certain quantity of problems to be solved, but people who don’t want to change push their undesirable inner states deep into the subconscious mind. They think that they can get rid of them in this way, but nothing is further from the truth. If there are more individuals like this in a family, then this family turns into a rigid structure which tries to maintain a fixed picture of reality on the surface, accompanied by huge efforts to make an adequate impression on the outer world. But beneath the surface, at the psychological level, a relentless fight goes on. This fight may or may not be visible at first sight, because it is a subtle energetic process and not something which is immediately obvious. But although subtle, a fight for energy and for maintaining fixed positions within a family may have very serious consequences on the lives of all its members.

In terms of energy, people who don’t want to confront themselves and who base their stability upon suppression think that their negative mental states will disappear if they push them into the subconscious. Not true – the suppressed negative energy will look for its outlet. A family is a system where all members are mutually linked with subtle energetic ties, so someone’s suppressed state will try to find its vent through another person in the family. Furthermore, people who don’t want to change need a lot of energy to perpetuate such a state, to protect themselves from life challenges and to maintain their defensive mechanisms. It is hard to find energy for this kind of long-term resistance in one’s own self only. So where do such people get the energy? From other people. If our energy does not come from within, from our true self as the inner source, then it has to come from another source, and this outer source is usually other people, those that we are strongly connected with. And these are, of course, the members of our immediate family.

In relationships of this sort, unconditional love is unfortunately not the only thing that flows through energy connections with close persons. Those who resist their own development and change tend to bond with their family members on the basis of frustration, fear, sadness, anger, insecurity or contempt. They then try to shift these negative states onto those other family members and at the same time draw positive states such as love, peace, security or stability from them. If the other person resists or expresses her displeasure at this kind of transfer, then the stealer will accuse her of cold-heartedness, selfishness or even wickedness. The stealer will try to provoke any kind of reaction so that he can keep on blaming the other person for his own problems and transferring negative energy onto her while feeding upon her positivity. The logic here is simple – someone who possesses enough energy is a target for those who don’t. Therefore the energy body of a person who is devoid of energy acts like an empty cistern, attaching itself to the person who has abundant energy and sucking it out of her, to the extent that she allows this to happen. The fight for energy is based on a simple rule – those who have energy feel well, while those who don’t feel bad. Since nobody wants to feel bad, a person with an energy deficit will look for energy in the first place where there is some, disregarding any morality or good manners.

When we look at the dynamics of family relationships in this way, they turn out to be a merciless fight for energy between those who don’t want to work to obtain it for themselves and those who have it due to their own merits or natural predispositions. This is similar to the relations governing the world of crime. Energy crime is a copy of mafia-like models, but in a subtler way, thus appearing as a phenomenon still not recognized and overcome by humankind. Society has not even solved the problem of real crime, let alone psycho-energy crime. In order to overcome it, this phenomenon should first be detected and studied. Still, in the family structure that creates the need for a black sheep it is not only psychological crime which is at stake. If we go a step further, this kind of dynamic turns into a somewhat monstrous conspiracy with the aim of physically destroying or sacrificing one family member to safeguard the survival of the original family structure.

Sacrifice had its role in some of the ancient societies, where it served as a way of protecting the community from trouble or total disaster. The community used to sacrifice a young boy or girl to “please the gods” and avoid misfortune. This same model is still applied in modern society, although mostly unconsciously, where our “advanced and prosperous” communities occasionally find a scapegoat who is blamed for something everybody is guilty of, but for the sake of presenting a positive image of the whole community this “something” has to remain hidden. And since our society remains ultra-sick and run by the lowest possible values and principles, while masking this with positive ideals which only serve as a smokescreen, it needs a socially acceptable vent for its sickness and latent destructiveness. The ideal vent comes in the form of demonizing some society members or groups, while praising and celebrating others. The same goes for modern families, because even nowadays most of them need a black sheep in order to become the channel for the negativity that actually belongs to the family as a whole.

So, the position occupied by the black sheep in the family could not be worse. If she tacitly agrees to this game, such a person is turned into an energetic septic tank. She takes upon herself the bulk of the negative energy accumulated in the family and becomes the family’s garbage can. She is not allowed to be happy and self-realized. On the contrary, it is quite natural that she is chronically ill or unhappy and accused of being nothing less than the source of the majority of the family’s problems. The other family members who dump their negativity onto the black sheep need someone to personify their dark side, so that they don’t have to face it themselves. In this way the black sheep becomes the family victim, somebody who is blamed for the misfortune or bad image of the whole family, so that other members may safely keep on living without any change, undisturbedly cultivating their own weaknesses, vices and faults. When the level of negativity in such a family exceeds the critical point, the black sheep will channel it all through herself. And everybody will live “happily ever after”, at least until the black sheep leaves the physical reality or revolts against her position. However, the revolt of a black sheep will so seriously shake the family structure that the family will do anything to prevent the rebellion. In situations like this the family matrix, as an energetic entity, may even create a car accident (seemingly “unconsciously” and “unintentionally”) or some other kind of crisis in order to turn attention away from any kind of change.

A black sheep as a child is usually emotionally and spiritually the most developed person in a family. She is capable of loving, accepting and supporting others unconditionally. She is also a human being and for that reason she has the need to connect with other family members, as firmly and as healthily as possible. But if other members are not as conscious as her and are not able to love unconditionally, the nature of bonding is not going to be what the black sheep expects it to be. Since bad bonding is better than no bonding at all, the black sheep accepts what is offered and tries to deal with it the best she can. She often embodies the proverb “the smarter one gives in” and has no stomach for petty family fights and disagreements. She solves them by doing the things which don’t belong to her original responsibility, shouldering the family burden and thereby gradually creating the perception that nothing is too hard for her. Even as a child, the black sheep is usually the one who is most self-possessed in moments of crisis. She is the source of the family’s stability, because she seems to have sufficient inner strength to be a constructive element in the crisis’ solution.

Although the black sheep is often a “good child” (which, of course, is not a rule), during adolescence she begins to show visible signs of her position. Since she is tacitly forbidden to be altogether happy and realized, she has to invent a problem. Therefore she often creates a sort of a fault, be it a medical problem, psychical weakness or a behavioral problem. In extreme cases, the black sheep can be physically or mentally handicapped. The family seemingly shows understanding for her problem and, at least consciously, wants to help its member to get better. But the way of solving the problem often stops at the level of symptoms, while the true causes commonly remain hidden. For this reason the black sheep cannot overcome her problems once and for all, but turns them into chronic problems, or jumps from one problem to another, creating a chain of unpleasant experiences both for her and for other family members.

Later in life, the black sheep usually becomes one of the non-realized persons in the family, at least in some of the crucial fields of life. She can be successful on one side, but totally unsuccessful on another. She is often a rebel, a part of a counterculture, or is oriented toward spirituality, which is an ideal reason for her family to consider her abnormal. Instead of spending time swallowing absurdities served by the media or getting drunk in pubs as all “normal people do”, she meditates! She is concerned with things which can “make you lose your mind” and thereby inflicts pain on those who so “unselfishly love her”. The family may behave in a way similar to a totalitarian regime, never admitting it is wrong, but instead using every possible opportunity to accuse its citizens of not being good enough and therefore responsible for the collective failures.

The spirituality of the black sheep often includes the idea that it is necessary to sacrifice worldly realization for spiritual development. Sometimes she thinks that her “destiny” is so poor that she has no other choice but to turn to the spiritual. However, there is no difference between the spiritual and material; both realities are inseparable elements of an overall reality, mutually linked and interwoven. “Sacrificing worldly realization” is sometimes required by spiritual schools that are not truly spiritual, and there are many such “schools”. No, the abstract is a part of the concrete, just as the concrete is a part of the abstract, so there is no true spiritual realization if one has to sacrifice anything for it. The only thing a spiritually oriented person should sacrifice is his own ignorance and egotistic urges, but this is usually what he finds most difficult. Therefore the worldly realization of the black sheep is in fact blocked by her subtle position within the family and not by destiny or by the requirements of some quasi-spiritual school.

If we find ourselves in the position of the black sheep, how should we get out of it and change our place within the family? Technically speaking, it’s easy – we only need to dissolve the toxic bond within the family matrix. In a brief outline, first we should see what benefits we draw from such a position. As we have already seen while discussing toxic bonding, we all benefit in some way from our roles and positions within the family and so does the black sheep. She usually assumes her position at a relatively early age, before the age of three and sometimes even in the prenatal period. The reason for taking this position so early is more than justified – it allows the child to survive. Accepting the role imposed by family members is the only sensible thing she can do in such circumstances. Besides surviving, the most important benefit a black sheep usually draws from her role is finding her place in the family and being accepted by the family members.

After discovering the benefits, we should put two and two together and see what is more worthwhile – the actual position or a change. If we voluntarily opt for a change, then we can carry on with dissolving the toxic bond with the family as a whole by studying it in detail first and then by releasing it and recreating a healthy connection. Then we have to reconstruct our integrity by retrieving the lost identity, that is, by integrating the part of our own being that we gave up the moment we accepted this role. In the end we need to find the meaning of the problem, or the reason for choosing such a family, together with the lesson hidden in such an experience, both for us and for the other family members. Then we finish the whole process with an exchange of blessings.

Still, even if the therapeutic intervention was done perfectly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the inner transformation will enable the black sheep to truly get out of her position. She has to change her behavior as well, harmonizing it with totally new principles. Since she is spiritually more developed than the other members, the black sheep is more aware of the fact that families exist in order to be the best possible and not to be unhappy, so she wants to contribute wholeheartedly to such a scenario. But although more mature, her position indicates that she is not yet completely mature. For if she was really mature, she would get out of such a position by exercising the type of love usually called merciless love. This kind of love is quite different from what most people know under the name of love.

We usually connect love with the heart chakra, the energy center found within the human aura. When the front aspect of the heart chakra works harmoniously, then we are able to love in the manner of the merciful aspect of unconditional love. We feel that the universe is created out of love and that the very essence of God is love. Noble emotions overwhelm us and we feel deep compassion and understanding for every human being. This kind of perception is absolutely healthy and desirable and needs to be the foundation of all interpersonal relations because it gives the right perspective of what relationships actually are – expressions of unconditional love. Merciful love is a fulfilling sort of love and it represents one of the main preconditions for reaching the true purpose of human existence, which I have defined as the realization of the potential for creating entirely fulfilling relationships. However, it is most commonly found in the relationships people have with their pets (to the endless joy of the pet food manufacturers), but not with their neighbors. Accepting other people unconditionally, such as they are and supporting them enthusiastically in all their endeavors, is still a rarely achieved ideal. Among the few who are actually able to understand and express merciful love are the black sheep.

But even this kind of love is not sufficient for a black sheep to get out of her position. Aside from endless compassion and tolerance, creating harmonious relationships requires something else – the rear aspect of the heart chakra to be open. When discussing the characteristics of the heart chakra it is always the front aspect which is emphasized and rarely the rear one. So, what would the characteristics of the rear aspect be? It is about tough love, merciless and hard, usually expressed in open confrontation. This is also love, although most people think of it as cruelty. To confront an alcoholic with his habit you need to act strongly and strictly, using not only gentle words, but also more explicit ones. If a person behaves destructively, then precisely because we love him, we are obligated to express our dissatisfaction with his behavior. We do that because we care, and not because we don’t give a damn. That’s why “tough love” usually takes the form of telling the truth, however unpleasant it may be. And with being able to love mercilessly, we also take our personal power back and immediately get out of an unwanted situation, such as that of the black sheep.

So, merciless love is about fighting for love. It requires guts and heart, and these are the characteristics of a fighter or a warrior. For example, King Richard the Lionheart of England was reputedly a powerful and courageous warrior (if we accept the version offered by official history). But he most certainly didn’t gain this title by capering upon the blossomed meadows in his tights, occasionally smelling the flowers with sighs of admiration and the occasional tear. If he truly won all those battles, he couldn’t have done it by being soft and merciful only. He had to be merciless too, and his hard-heartedness must have come from the rear aspect of the heart chakra being opened; from his courage and readiness to face a challenge, as well as from his ruthlessness towards his weaknesses. Merciless love must definitely be based on compassion, for otherwise it turns into cruelty, but it cannot be ignored.

So, only when the merciful love typical for the front aspect of the heart chakra is supplemented by the merciless love of the rear aspect, will the black sheep be able to change her position by saying a historical “No!” to her oppressors. If the oppressors remonstrate, as they certainly will, the former black sheep can express her readiness to terminate any form of communication with them. But not all oppressors use their aggressive or manipulative methods openly. It is far more difficult to get out of such a position if the oppressor starts blackmailing us with his weaknesses and appealing to our “understanding and compassion”. In any case, it is necessary for the black sheep to have previously gone through the process of dissolving toxic bonds with the family oppressor(s) and then with the family as a whole, because any sudden exit from a former situation may leave her with a subtle sense of guilt.

Merciless love also has to be followed by the readiness to assume responsibility for one’s own life and the willingness to accept some new forms of discipline, whatever this may mean for a particular individual. For example, it is not possible to say no and then keep on being materially dependent on the oppressor. The black sheep has to be merciless towards herself first and then towards her oppressor, knowing that her ruthlessness is the only efficient means of realizing the desired aim – a change of her position within the family. Only then can the black sheep ask her oppressor to accept responsibility for himself and to change his behavior. If the oppressor refuses to do this, then the former black sheep may continue with the strategy of separation and break off communication altogether, distancing herself physically from her family. Sometimes there is no other way and the former black sheep has to be ready for an act such as this one.

So, it is not about cruelty here, but the protection of one’s integrity and unwillingness to participate in a destructive type of relationship. The act of separation and communication breakdown usually has the effect of a cold shower on the family matrix and for the person(s) in the role of oppressor(s). They suddenly wake up from the illusion in which they have been living until this point and become aware of the importance of being connected, of what they actually get out of it, of how much it means to them and how important it is for the connection to be sound and healthy. Emotionally immature people very often indulge in the abuse of others and are not aware of what they are doing until the relationship breaks down. Then it quickly emerges who is really the weak side in the relationship – it is always the manipulator, the abuser or the oppressor. He is the one who needs far more help. He has no idea of what he actually gets out of the relationship and how important it is for the relationship to exist. For this reason, merciless love also includes responsibility towards the oppressor(s). A black sheep cannot entirely get rid of her role if she doesn’t help her oppressor(s) in a certain way, usually through blessings and through encouraging them to take responsibility for their own lives.

Although the model brought out here may sound shocking to some, the good news is that we can transform it. It is only a matter of our choice whether we are going to stay inside this limiting pattern or get out of it, because the technical means exist and can be applied anytime. The ecology of such a means is of the highest level, because the intervention is not done for the benefit of one side only. So, there only has to be the will, but it seems that even this is too much for some people. If a person doesn’t want to learn from his or her problem, no magic will remove it permanently. On the other hand, a readiness to assume responsibility for oneself and for one’s own change can easily enable the transformation of an almost infernal reality into a heavenly one. It is up to everyone to choose because no matter how entangled in complicated relationships we may be, we are still potentially free beings with the possibility of choice.

 
© Tomislav Budak, September 2005