“I’m usually really into the holiday season. My family is multi-faith, so we have many traditions from many cultures. That said, they’re not all comfortable incorporating my religious practices into our home. I suggested we burn a Yule log this year and my mom flat said no. I ended up just lighting a candle in my room. How can I talk to her about this? My parents know I’m Wiccan and they’ve never given me a hard time about it, until now. I feel like I have to talk to them about it, but I’m not sure how to start that conversation or what I should say.”
Uhg. The holidays can really suck. I’m sorry friend. It’s no wonder so many people are depressed this time of year, honestly.
When I consulted the cards for you, I drew the King of Swords. The King is a level-headed, perhaps even dispassionate man. He is even-keeled in times of stress, able to examine a situation from many perspectives. By doing this, he gains insight into the problem which helps him solve it fairly, justly. He is close to his family and loyal to his friends. He is seen by others to be responsible and fair.
As it pertains to your situation, I think the King of Swords is counseling you to approach this situation calmly, with finesse. To be as fair and measured as the King of Swords is to put aside your feelings and look at the situation as objectively as possible. However, when I say “put your feelings aside”, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t feel them. Rather, I think you would do best to sit with them a while, do whatever you need to do to heal a little bit. Your feelings are hurt (rightly, in my humble opinion) and trying to talk to your parents about matters now might become more adversarial than productive. Right now with the Moon in Cancer, everyone’s emotions are running a little ragged (plus it’s the holidays — the traffic alone makes me practically homicidal) but after December 24th the Moon will be in Leo and those mood swings will ease. If you want to leverage Moon energy, the best time to sit down and talk things out with your folks will be between December 26 through the 30th when the Moon is in Virgo (a time to suss out and solve problems) and then Libra (a time for balance and cooperation). Of course, you could also wait a few weeks — whenever you’re ready! That’s the important thing.
As for what to say, I’m sure you can come up with plenty in the next week or so. My suggestion, though, is to ask your parents to sit down and talk with you during a quiet time in your home, maybe after dinner or early on a weekend day. Tell them it’s about something important to you. Be honest with them, let them know how it felt to be unable to express yourself as part of the family’s growing traditions. Tell them what you’d like to change before next year, and be ready to tell them about the traditions that you want to bring into the home, like the Yule log. If they don’t come over to your side immediately, don’t give up hope just yet. This might be a conversation you have to revisit a few times before everyone is on the same page.
I wish you a restful and restorative holiday. I hope your New Year blesses you with inspiration and growth.
Have a question for Sarah C? Write to email@example.com with your question! Want a particular kind of reading? Just let me know in your email!
Being the black sheep of the family, in and of itself, is not a big deal. Many people feel as if they have fallen far from the proverbial tree, but still feel loved and appreciated (even accepted) for their differences. Unless, of course, they are summarily and shamefully cast out.
Some, myself included, are deemed too subversive to be allowed a pass. In certain circles, there are some who are simply too different to escape scrutiny. They are so egregiously in conflict with their kin’s time honored traditions and values, that they are simply removed from the picture. Sometimes the cataclysm comes with a whisper rather than a roar. One day, you look around and realize that your roots have pruned themselves back and disappeared. Some are flung out more dramatically, of course.
The fear of abandonment robbed me of the courage to speak the truth about my family and how in efforts to appease them, I have capitulated time and time again to their tacit demands for obeisance and silence.
To be fair, they started it:
Okay, so let me give you a little background. I posted a link to this article on my Facebook page, and added a comment that I know women who have experienced this kind of treatment. In response, some member of my family — I will tell you only that he is male — felt it was his personal responsibility (nay, his duty!) to come around and knock me down a peg.
How far? How many pegs do I need to be knocked down before I am worthy of my family’s love and acceptance?
This time, I have opted to get good and mad, and thus I have been driven to a point of hatred and malice previously unknown to me.
First of all, me “stop it”? YOU STOP IT. Who the hell do you think you are to try and put me in my place? I don’t need to shrink and make myself smaller so you will feel bigger around me. I don’t need to compromise my ideals, my morals, just on the off chance that you might find my words offensive. And I do not have to dumb myself down, be less articulate, or think less just so I can fit in with this “family”.
Why put me down? Why seek with every word to belittle me? Why does making me feel small fulfill you? Yes, ours is a family that likes to fuck with each other. And fuck each other over. And fuck each other up. Ours is a legacy of hurt.
I reject the notion that to be intelligent, articulate, and well-educated is a sin. I refuse to align myself with your white-trash morality. Intelligent, free-thinking, even feminist are not swear words, except among simple-minded, misogynistic sheeple.
My soul is not for sale, and I’ve compromised for too long, allowing my affection and loyalty to be bought and sold like a commodity. In the interest of maintaining ties with individuals who will only love me on certain conditions, I’ve offered up everything. But still, I have lost.
I am no longer a disaffected youth, though I remain a product of my upbringing. As a result, I am chronically maladjusted.
I always knew that I didn’t fit in. I was never thin and athletic – I was bookish and articulate. And I was always tapped into something greater than myself, something that the people around me had no concept of. I have been perpetually aware of my separateness.
I don’t mean to be divisive: I love my family, but I’m not like them. I’m not sorry about that, though I used to be. I used to feel sad that I couldn’t be the same. I made choices that were engineered to try and make me blend, each with disastrous consequences.
I feel as if I have never been congratulated without being simultaneously mocked for having achieved anything in the first place. When I was a latch-key teenager out drinking, having sex, and stirring up mayhem, the family shrugged and wrote me off. One such matriarch attended my high school graduation after having offered the following sentiment on the occasion: “What’s the point? She’s just going to move in with that boyfriend of hers and get knocked up.”
But when I started to alter my course, rather than inspiring pride, each action I took seemed to cause anger and paranoia. I left California and moved to Hawaii to go to college — no, I “abandoned by family and moved to paradise.” Never mind the hardship that I faced once I was here. Never mind how hard I worked to succeed despite my circumstances. Never mind that I did everything “right”: went to college, met a nice man, got married, started a career, bought a house, had a baby, and all in that order. When it was all said and done, the sum of my achievements is tantamount to looking down my nose at anyone who didn’t achieve in the same way that I did. I’m the only person I know with such critically low self-esteem to have been so regularly accused of being arrogant, even narcissistic.
I think the primary motivation behind those accusations is the fear of my potential. The fear that, once I realized that I was better than the muck that I came from, I actually would condescend to them. That I would disappear and never come back.
This isn’t to say that my family didn’t celebrate my successes alongside of me. Simply that their inferiority complex dictated that in order to be proud of me, they must also remind me to be small: Don’t you forget where you came from! To which I respond: How could I? How could I forget when the legacy of this booze-soaked, drug-addled, emotionally retarded family hangs around my neck like an anchor? My achievements become cannon fodder and I a laughing stock, when I have done nothing — nothing — but try and mold myself into the kind of person that would be worthy of love and respect.
It has become resoundingly clear that I will never get to that point. And what I stand to gain from giving up the fight is so much greater than what I will lose from letting go.
I just want the freedom to be and to live the way that I see fit, without judgment or scorn. I’m exhausted by the accusations of arrogance and selfishness. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else based on my smarts or my success. But I will say this: I have more compassion, more love, and more understanding than was ever granted to me by that family, and for that reason alone, yes, I am better. Better than my origins, better than my history, and I am not ashamed to admit it.
I’m not sorry that I’m smart. That I maintain informed opinions. I’m not sorry that I kicked up the courage to dream up a different kind of life. That I went to school and toiled for six years to get three degrees. I’m not sorry that this cost me relationships with people who are supposed to love me unconditionally, but instead focus all of that energy on the fear of their own inferiority. If I must be excommunicated from the family for defying these values, I will accept my fate. I own everything that has ever happened to me, and if someone feels incriminated by my story-telling, they should have behaved better in the first place. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s your values that are corrupt. Not me.
So yeah, I’ll be the Black Sheep. I’ll wrap myself up in this thick, black wool. It’s so cozy and warm, I can hardly feel the cold shoulder you’ve been giving me.