I am very thankful for the Internet. I will never take it for granted. It is a window into the lives of others, and a window for others into my life, and because of this, I am and have always been able (and always hope to be able) to connect with other human beings on a deeper, more personal level than I've found possible to do in real life.
Sunday was Father's Day, and Father's Day is always a reminder that my father never lived up to my expectations of fatherhood. I haven't spoken to my dad in nearly 7 years. For different reasons, I speak less and less with those on my mother's side of the family, people I live in close proximity to.
I cut my father out of my life because of the way he treated me, and I feel as if my mother's family is cutting me out of their lives. It's depressing—I feel like a wall flower, I feel taken for granted and neglected. I have tried to insert myself into their lives, but for many reasons it has not worked. I have an incredible gift of intelligence, passion, and creativity, but as far as my family is concerned, it matters not. They seem to only be able to judge me by my past, searching hard for examples of my present to justify their beliefs. To them, people don't change. (I admit, freely, that I was very annoying, talkative, too passionate for people who simmer on an emotional low.)
I am a Taoist, I temper my expectations as much as I can (and try to temper my mouth), having minimal expectations as often as possible, but where my family is concerned, I have failed. Failed both in not having expectations, and apparently being the person they want me to be. Like them: low key.
I don't do enough gossiping, I'm far too intellectual (this can be a real negative, especially when I'm in a talkative mood or “think” a lot—it's obnoxious, even to me), and quite frankly, we have nothing in common. You've heard it before, children should be seen and not heard. I'm an adult, and the rule still applies.
I have felt depressed about this, hopeless. I feel I can, and should, give up. To stop trudging forward through life with my head up.
Or I can turn to where I'm appreciated, turning to those who want me to speak my mind, to those who enjoy it!
That is on the Internet. Google+ has become a home away from home for me, not in the sense that I spend all my time there (I limit my networking activity to no more than a couple hours a day), but because the people there have become friends, and some have become more than friends—gaining my respect and trust.
I must refrain from expectations here as well, building these relationships to a point others cannot live up to. I must live for myself, and not judge my personal worth by what others say, do, or think (whether it's my family or anyone else). But it's nice to feel loved, even by people who were strangers to me just a few months ago.
I am a black sheep, but I am not alone—and black sheep must flock together (though it's unlikely that we will flock in lockstep; we're black sheep after all!). We have only each other. Our families, sometimes for the same reason, sometimes for different ones, have let us down. We are too different, relative to our blood relations. They have hurt us. They have in some cases abandoned us, or we have abandoned them, or both. But being black sheep, we have something in common with each other that holds us together a little more tightly than the tenuous lines of blood.
Blood may very well be thicker than water, but it can't parch the thirst of the soul.
The internet is incredible because it allows us to come together, those who would not have otherwise known each other due to the great limitations of time and space. In the past, most people have been stuck with those they've grown up with and live with. Times have changed, and there is a great deal of flexibility in human relationship these days.
On Google+ I wrote a short post that summed up my feelings. After I wrote it I was reaffirmed by the incredibly passionate thread, the comments by people I consider friends—my allies in life.
I am not alone. I may not be the right person for those who brought me into this world, but I am not trapped to them. I can grow, I am my own person, and I can find others who are like me, who not only can accept me, but want to. I still love my family, even (if not especially) my father. Yet I understand that some things just aren't meant to be. It's impossible to make others like us and still practice any sort of integrity.
Being rejected by family is not an end. Far from it. It is a beginning. It is an open door into a wider world. Instead of being something that I am burdened with (as I have treated these feelings in the past), this rejection is the push I need to be who I am destined to be.
So here's to living comfortably in my own skin (and you in yours), and not resenting those who would have me change for them, and never taking for granted those who like me just the way I am.