A while back, when my father was still living, it would happen that we would discuss my sister, and the impact she was having on me. In particular, her lack of ability in feeding the relationship with me. In essence, my father would put the emphasis on me for making the relationship better. When I would tell him it wasn’t working due to her lack of action, it would be like looking at a deer in headlights. The countless times I had to justify my action and her inaction would engender the same response, which I’ve come to call a “Willful Blindspot”.
Parents feel so bad to see their children not getting along that they often want the “fixer” in the family to do something about that. That can also be the scapegoat/black sheep, since they are usually the most authentic able-voiced person in the family structure. The problem is, when parents externalize the situation in this way, they wash their hands of any possibility of influence on their part.
By thrusting responsibility onto the fixer, it ends up creating a situation in which the black sheep is made to fix the problem, of which they are also the victim. Hence, in some odd dysfunctional way, the tables get turned in that they end up being blamed for the adverse situation.
It can be tiresome and draining to be juxtaposed into someone else’s insecurity issue. Owning something which is not inherently ours, or trying to repair something that is a complex dynamic involving many factors such as temperament, self-regulation, and conflict management regarding another person. It can be a heavy cross to bear for any one single person.
So don’t waste time trying to “make the other person understand.” It takes away from the personal power you hold as a truth sayer in opportune moments. If anything, consider whether it’s in your interest to speak up, or if you’ll be wasting your breath by bringing up something that a person you love can’t or won’t see.
By doing so, you begin to break the cycle of being the savior in a family and accept that wearing the label of black sheep is in fact a badge of honor, which is precisely because you no longer are a willing participant in such games.
Ali-John Chaudhary is a Registered Psychotherapist with offices in Ontario and Quebec. He helps clients going through sibling estrangement issues, and produces YouTube videos on the same subject, with author Fern Schumer Chapman. He also hosts an online support group on zoom for those looking to empower themselves with this rarely discussed subject.