After your child makes their transition, it’s quite possible you will feel like the black sheep of the family. Several years ago I heard “If you think there are no black sheep in your family, you’re probably it.”. There’s one in every family. I am the black sheep in my family. Shayna’s passing didn’t exactly reveal that, but it has highlighted it.
When I hear about soul groups, I hear that usually our family members are part of our closest group of souls. Soul groups can be pretty large, number in the tens. Sometimes people in our soul groups will only play cameo appearances in a particular lifetime. Because someone is your mother or brother doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of your tight knit soul circle. In my family I was known as “the sensitive one” growing up. Being the “sensitive one” in my family was not a compliment. It was more like a “What’s wrong with Brian, now?” thing. I was born into a fundamentalist Christian family. It would be about 40 years before that I’d come to discover that Buddhism resonates more with me. When I was taught about hell and original sin and the Rapture and all of that crap, it would literally keep me lying awake in my bed at night wishing I had never been born. What kind of a monster was this god who created me with so much hatred for me being just who he made me to be? And how would I ever please him when he demanded love? I couldn’t love someone who would torture me or my brother or my uncle or a stranger. Other kids apparently went home from Sunday School and slept just fine. I always felt a separation from people even when I was in a crowd. This place always seemed lonely to me. People were distant. As a kid watching the nightly reports from the Vietnam war I wondered what kind of world this is where people intentionally blow each other up and the body counts are reported on the evening news like the score of the day’s basketball game. I could not understand how people could be starving in a land full of food. Why didn’t people just share freely out of love? Why is there money? Nothing about this place made sense to me. I felt like not only was I born into the wrong family, I was born on the wrong planet.
I’m the only one in my immediate family to move away from Columbus. I’m not big on family gatherings because I can’t be myself around my family. I drink alcohol. My parents are teetotalers. I stopped going to church for years. Then, I started going to a church with a gay pastor who is married to another man. I have piercings and tattoos. I want to talk about feelings. In my family, feelings are something to be avoided, even denied. It wasn’t until I was in counseling in my early 40s that I realized that I was not the strange one for wanting to share feelings, for wanting to be hugged as a child, and for fearing that monster god.
After Shayna passed, my family was amazingly great for about two weeks. My brother and my parents moved in. They took care of me beyond my wildest expectations. We even talked about feelings. I saw people in my family who I had never seen shed a tear, shed several tears. The walls were down.
But, death is uncomfortable for most people. And outside of politics, about all I’m focused on these days is the afterlife. I’m on staff with the SoulPhone. I volunteer with Helping Parents Heal. I regularly talk to and with mediums. Three vacations in a row, for me, will be afterlife conferences. I pretty much only read books about the afterlife because they crowd out everything else. I attend a church that talks about the continuity of life and where the pastor recommended a medium to me. This has made being around my immediate family even harder. Holidays are tough. I don’t know how other families handle the death of a cousin, granddaughter, niece. I only know what I feel when I’m around my family. Looking at my siblings children and their in tact families does bring some jealousy. Why did I have to be the one to lose a child? I know they’re in pain, too. But, we don’t talk about it. We’re going through graduation season now for a lot of family, friends, and neighbors. Graduation parties are tough. I purposely avoided several this year. I can’t say what next year will hold, but unless something changes, I’ll be avoiding them then, too.
Since Shayna passed, I’ve been pouring my heart into this blog. I don’t know how many, if any, of my immediate family reads it. I know my mother did for a time. I think it is too painful for and she stopped. No one else in my immediate or even extended family comments on my blog. I don’t know if they read it or not. A couple of weeks ago I had my second article published in a small, niche magazine. I printed off a PDF copy and emailed it to my brothers, my sister and my parents. I only heard back from one of my brothers.
My life up until June 24, 2015 prepared me for this though. I’m using to being the odd man out. It doesn’t bother me like it would some people. I’ve found my own path career wise (having my own business). My faith has been my own, regardless of what anyone else thinks about whatever thing I’m into now. I moved away from Columbus over 30 years ago. Because of my crazy thanatophobia (fear of death) and the notion that I would die suddenly and be condemned to hell, I have studied the hell out of the afterlife. The panic attacks intensified around the time I was the age Shayna was when she passed. I just knew my heart would one day suddenly stop beating. I’ve been in and out of cardiac evaluations for decades because of this feeling. Because of the religious crap I was exposed to as a child I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the afterlife. My fear of death is gone. My inability to face my own mortality is gone. In fact, I am grateful for my mortality.
The irony is that I don’t know how much my family is struggling with Shayna’s departure and, if I did, I could probably help them because of the expertise I have developed. I’ve tried with some of them. I share what I can, but I keep a lot to myself because I know they are not ready to accept what I have learned.
If you’re following my blog, it’s likely you’ve lost a child or at least a very, very close family member. Otherwise, who would want to read this? And, if you’re on the path I’m on, it’s also likely you’ll find yourself as the black sheep of your family. The good news is that there are others on the same path. While we can’t choose our families, opportunities about to surround ourselves with like minded people. Being yourself around those who don’t “get it” is important, but you must also learn to protect your heart. If you’re getting signs, know who you can share those signs and get support and encouragement, not side eye. If you’ve decided to see a medium, either keep it to yourself or get ready for the Bible thumpers to try to tell you that mediumship is from the devil. I’ve read the Bible forwards and backwards and I can tell you that is a bunch of baloney.
Share what you can with those you can share with, but as Jesus said: “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” I’ve seen it happen. Not only will people reject what you’re trying to share with them. They will turn on you. There are flocks of us black sheep out there who would be happy to hang with you.