Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The Black Sheep

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One of my cousins has her birthday today. She’ll be 48 too.

We grew up together and share a lot of history but eventually she moved to another part of the country and we didn’t see each other quite as much. Then I moved to Norway and, apart from Christmas card, we lost touch.

One of the things I did when I got back to England was to get back in touch with her. We hit it off pretty well and would phone each other about once a month to share family gossip and generally have a laugh. We weren’t what I’d describe as close but we definitely had a friendship.

The rest of my family were still pretty much outside of my social and family networks though. I’d have the occasional chat with one or two on the phone, email with a couple of others but that was the extent of it. Those people who had all lived within walking distance of our house when I was little were now spread around Essex and East Anglia.

My dad was no doubt to blame for a lot of the ‘coolness‘. He decided about fifteen years ago that he no longer wanted anything to do with two of his sisters and their families. I know why but I can’t see that it was good enough reason to cut all contact with them, but that was his choice. My cousin would tell me about family christenings, silver anniversaries and all sorts that we’d never been invited to. And yes, it hurt. As far as I knew I’d done nothing to deserve that kind of treatment.

Anyhow, one day I received an email from another cousin, an email that I found particularly vulgar. It was outright racist propaganda in the form of a joke (remember the one that some government minister was hauled up for having forwarded?) and I really didn’t find it funny. I told her so, she replied saying that we’re all entitled to our opinions and that was that. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately somebody I forwarded it to (not as a funny joke but just to show him how disgusting it was) traced the email address that it had come to me via and contacted my cousin’s boss, telling him that she’d been using company emails to send out such dirt. As he’s Asian himself, I can only imagine what his reaction would have been.

Fast forward a few weeks and a letter arrives in the post. It’s from the cousin concerned and basically tells me that she knows I was behind it all and that I was hiding behind the other person’s name and that the whole family are so disgusted with me that I can no longer consider myself part of them.

Riiiight. Ok. If that’s the way they want it then it isn’t really such a big loss to me - it was years since I’d ever felt I had an extended family so I wasn’t likely to miss it much. What upset me though was the fact that they’d just jumped to conclusions without even consulting me first. I’m guessing they traced the domain name registration that the email came from and found out that I’d registered it. What they obviously didn’t think of though, is that a domain name doesn’t have to be used by the person who registers it. I’d register this particular one for the person who did send the email because I built their website.

I’ve since called the cousin I got along with but she was clearly uncomfortable. There have been no phone calls from her since, and no texts. I didn’t even get a birthday card, something she always used to remember. Having lost her trust is what saddens me by it all - the rest of them I’m really not bothered about. But I guess that’s just life for you. People come and go.

I’ve still sent her a birthday card though.

Sharon J

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10 comments:

Jade of the Jungle said...

Oh no Sharon, what a frustrating situation!!! When it comes to family it is never easy is it?

I dont know what to suggest really. If you've explained the situation then what else can you do? Perhaps the friend you sent it to should stick up for you and let them know it had nothing to do with you?

How frustrating though!

J x

emmani said...

It's really sad how such trivial nit picky things break up families and friends. It's something that on the family side I've never had to deal with, our family can fit round a large table and the rest of them, I hardly know their names.

As for friends, they come, they go... I'm not one for hanging on to relationships if I'm not happy.

I think 'enlightened' people who realise the true meanings of life and don't get caught up in too many dramas, are the ones who are on the right path and can truly be happy with their lives..

I hate playing games with people... I'm open and honest and I don't join in with other peoples tiffs...

It's good you sent the card, my husband taught me to smile at my enemies and it really works!

Holly said...

Sharon that's such a shame but you've done nothing wrong so don't let it worry you.

Some people might think that certain jokes are funny but you don't just go around telling them to everyone.

Hope you're doing ok.

Sharon J said...

@ jade of the jungle. The person concerned doesn't know them and to be honest, I don't really care. As I said, I grew apart from them a long time ago so I'm hardly missing them. They can think what they like. I know the truth.

@ Emmani. I can't be bothered to do anything about it for that very reason - the drama just wouldn't be worth it. Let them get on with their lives and I'll get on with mine, that's what I say. I just felt a bit upset that they could just jump to conclusions that way, without even consulting me first.

@ Holly. I'm not about to let it worry me. If I'm off the Christmas card list then that's fine by me. That's all the 'relationship' we ever really had anyway.

I'm fine thanks :)

Little Mo said...

Quite honestly I'd be inclined to tell them to just go stuff themselves if that's the way the treat family. You at least deserved the chance to tell your side of the story. Sounds like you're better off without them.

I don't think your friend should have made contact with your cousin's boss without consulting you first. That was out of order.

Sharon J said...

Little Mo. That's my thinking too, on both counts.

Nice to see you here :)

wombat064 said...

Sharon,
The only person you have to be happy with is yourself.

If other poeple just cant seem to get thier shit in one sock and get their priorities sorted.. Not your problem.

You are only the black sheep if you let them label you so.

Keep smiling
Phil

wombat064 said...

PS

Dearest Sharon ,
Please forgive my harshness it's not aimed at you..

I just get peed off when I see good people such as yourself get hurt by the petty mindness of others.

Your so called friend owes both yourself and your couisin an apology.

Your Cousin should be directing her anger at this third party not you.

If you do by chance get any more inapropriate emails, just return them with a note politely saying "please do not send any more of this material to me."

Keep Smiling
Phil

Sharon J said...

Hi Wombat. In my experience, families often bring out the worst in people. I'm very lucky really as I have a very good, close relationship with my mum and my own children and they're the family that really matter.

Y'know, I really don't mind being 'the black sheep' - I never wanted to be like everybody else in the field anyway ;)

Frugal Trenches said...

Oh Sharon, how awful! I think though, your cousin probably knows what she did was wrong & is more angry at herself.

I don't have contact with my Dad's side. I got tired of never being invited to events, their materialism, their prejudices. Occasionally I wish it could be different, but not that I would spend time with them, but that they would be different. Therefore, I keep away.