77. How Empaths can Heal from Being the Black Sheep with kathi hennessy
By Raven Scott
August 18, 2022
0:00 / 39:56
Raven Scott00:01

Welcome to the empath on the narcissist podcast, where you regain your sparkle bag after narcissistic abuse. I'm your host, Raven Scott. And I welcome you to the show. The podcast is growing so quickly and I am so grateful for your sharing and reviews. As a reminder, this podcast is for educational purposes only.

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Raven scott.show/empath and the narcissist. We are on a mission to dispel the narcissist power. One soul at a time through this podcast, my book empath and the narcissist and an app coming January, 2023.

People have to pretend you're a bad person. So they don't feel guilty about the things they did to you being the black sheep is hard.

And our guest today, Kathy Hennessy knows that first hand, , a licensed clinical social worker.

She has a background in research and has been a psychotherapist for 14 years. She is licensed in five states and has a private practice in Massachusetts. Kathy works with adolescents and adults who struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, school, and career stress. and life transitions.

She really enjoys working with individuals and couples who have relationship issues. And she's diving deeper into this concept about being the black sheep, which was something that was illuminated in her own personal life recently, has come to find that she needed to write a book and do research on this concept of being the black sheep and personally.

Was constantly posting empowerment, messages and quotes to help us embrace who we are as unique individuals versus feeling guilt and shame about being the black sheep. And I found her on Instagram and, uh, we connected. I said, I would love to have you on the podcast to share your story, your experience and your expertise.

So I'm so excited to share her with you and.

this is such a really great post that you need to go find her on Instagram at being underscore the underscore black underscore sheep and her logo on her account is a black sheep. And she posted this really cool post that you just have to go see, but I'll try and describe it to you. It's an elephant and its ears are butterfly wings, and the quote says dare to be different.

No one ever made a difference by being the same as everyone else. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Kathy.

We are back to the, uh, today again on the empath and the narcissist podcast. We are here. I am here, joined with Kathy Hennessy. Thank you so much for being here, Kathy.

Kathi hennessey03:22

Thanks for inviting me. Pleasure. Yeah, we

Raven Scott03:25

connected. Yeah, we connected on Instagram. Uh, funny enough, always kind of going through to find some amazing, people contributing to this.

Mental health area and really shedding some light on some things. And I saw yours and I really connected with it. The things that you had posted talking about the black sheep and a lot of us empaths. Um, a lot of my listeners, we relate to being the black sheep of our family. And mm-hmm , I think it can be really isolating and lonely at times.

Kathi hennessey03:59


Raven Scott04:01

Um, what are your thoughts on the black sheep and why do you have your platform kind of based around that? Um,

Kathi hennessey04:08

well, I have always felt different in my family and that was told I am too sensitive and, um, that I'm different and that I'm not doing things the way I'm supposed to. And, um, so. it was during the pan pandemic.

So in 2020, um, you know, just struggling with my relationships, mostly with my siblings. And, um, I just started doing more my own work and figuring out why am I struggling so much? And what can I learn about me cuz I'm not gonna change them. Um, And so it was kind of looking for a book to better understand being the black sheep and couldn't find anything.

So, um, was like, well, maybe I'll write the book that I was looking for and I'll get my healing along the way, as well as helping other people also searching for that, trying to figure out their place in their family or in the world. And so, um, yeah, so I started doing. Uh, I created a survey, um, that is now that is completed, did that for a year, um, and just targeted people on Instagram that tagged black sheep in some way.

And, um, and now I'm doing interviews to kind of get more personal stories, um, and hope to wrap that up by the end of the year. And, and then diving into actually like writing the

Raven Scott05:54

book. well, that's amazing. So you're in the full process of writing this book and really gleaning information from all those who relate to being the black sheep.

That's so important and so needed.

Kathi hennessey06:06

Yeah. I mean, there are some people, I think that I'm still missing because they had such trauma that they were like, why am I gonna dig into this to help you? . So I'm like, you don't have to like, you know, that's for you and your therapist to do I get it. Yeah. You know, but other people that felt like they could and they wanted to share their story, like, oh my God.

Yes. You know, and just felt good. Even just filling out the survey and feeling seen and heard, you know, and that can be healing in and of itself. Like other people get me, you know? Yeah. Absolutely. . Yeah, so it's been interesting so far. And, um, you know, I have about, I know less than 10 interviews so far, um, but I've got a bunch scheduled and so it is interesting to hear the different stories and why, you know, if the black sheep is the one that cut themselves off from the family or the family who said don't ever talk to me again, And then people that are just still struggling, you know, with how much contact they have and with who?


Raven Scott07:23

it's interesting. Yeah, that's a really difficult aspect is like how much do I continue to be enmeshed? How much do I continue to put up with? Is it just like I'm quirky and I'm the black sheep and I own it and everyone's fine with it. Or is it like really feeling alienated and being ostracized because of it.

And there being like a toxic. Uh, environment around that typically with narcissistic parents, right? Or siblings, you are, you find that when you're interacting with them, there's a lot of manipulation. There's a lot of guilt and shame in your interaction. And for me, I identify that where I would stand up for something and I would kind of.

Call something out as I saw it truthfully. And I remember one time, I, I, there was so much backlash. I got reprimanded and like, then it was gas. I was gaslit like, what I said was completely false. And because of this, this, and this reason, and I ended up walking out of there, like I was sad and I was upset that I was being, you know, talked to that way.

But then also it was, I left and I was like, I, I ended up. Thank you. I'm so grateful for you being in my life. Like I was so mind twisted by the end of that, that my truth became the lie and I was the one who needed their help and it was eerie. Like a few days later, I, I kind of awoke from the fog and realized, oh my gosh, I was just manipulated.

Just like I was in my romantic relat. Yeah. And it's like, for so long, I had not seen it because it's like your family and you're used to it. And that's all, you know, have you experienced other people, accounting, certain scenarios like that?

Kathi hennessey09:12

Yeah. There's, there is a lot. I, you do find a lot of narcissism and black sheep together, um, which is interesting.

Um, And I think also, you know, the codependence is part of that too. And I think that that's, um, there's so much guilt and shame thrown out there that like, well, you have to conform because it's all about family and yet family's toxic. And so, you know, it does, I think it, it messes with how you. view and interact with the world.

You know, it, when your primary people in your life are making you feel like you're crazy that you can't trust your own instincts, you know, and, and how that then, um, permeates into the workplace yeah. Into your romantic relationships, or even in, in how you parent your kids, you know, you were told so many times that what you're thinking, what you're feeling or what you observed is not true, you know, or that you're too sensitive or you're twisting, or you're taking it the wrong way, you know?

So then it's like, why should I trust myself?

Raven Scott10:41

That's true. Yeah. And you start to question yourself and you. It's just easier to give into that manipulation because they work so hard to, to do it. And it takes a lot of mental strength to resist it. It's like this giant weight collapsing on you. It's like, okay, might as well just give up and just let it kind of sit there.

Kathi hennessey11:02

Right. Right. Yeah. And, and, you know, the few times in my life in which, you know, I was feeling all of this. Angst or sadness or anxiety about spending time with my family of origin. Um, I frequently felt, and I was told too that, well, it's you, you know, I was even told I don't have these problems with anyone else except you.

So therefore it's hard not to think, like, why am I having a problem? You. Well, yeah, I am sensitive, but because they're insensitive, , you know, I make rude, crude, socially unacceptable, like comments, you know, I'm appropriately sensitive,

Raven Scott11:57

you know? Yeah. They're making really rude comments. Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's very, um, the lack of empathy there, which is always a, a trait of either being extremely self-centered or a Narcis.

Yeah. It, they say things and then you are just a person of integrity. Cuz I think a lot of people socially, they don't want to confront, um, issues. Right. They don't wanna like call people out on saying something wrong cuz then it puts them in a fight or flight mode. But I think when you are a part of right the system and you start to wake up in your family unit, you'll say something because you're just like fed up with hearing it.

Cuz you've heard it for so long. And it's like, yeah, they don't, they don't have this issue with other people because they're not with them long enough. for, for the other people to call them out. Yeah. Right,

Kathi hennessey12:48

right. And, and friends like get to go home and, you know, don't have to spend too much time. And so, you know, our friends, we can like blow off their faults and like, well, we had a good enough time anyway, you know?

Um, but you. Family installs your trigger buttons. And so they know exactly which ones to push. We don't tend to behave that same way with friends, you know, but family that history is, can be so toxic

Raven Scott13:22

and yeah. I love that you said, , family installs to trigger buttons because that is the most triggering.

Right? So many people struggle around the holidays with going, like dealing with depression or anxiety, having to go back to the family of origin to celebrate when that's the last place their body ever wants to go. Right. Right. Yeah. And then you sit there and you do feel like the black sheep and then you feel shame and blamed for being different.

You know, being against the grain or having, you know, unique ideas that when you're all by yourself and with other people in your circle, you feel are really fascinating and, and really great. And that's like part of your strengths, but your strength, all of a sudden becomes your weakness when you're around them.


Kathi hennessey14:10

Yeah. I'm definitely a different person, uh, around my family than I am around friends. Like I'm much freer and relaxed around friends. I'm. Worried, they're gonna say something rude and insulting, you know? Um, and you know, when I, so in my journey, I've started speaking up because you're right. Like I silenced myself for years.

I did it in my first marriage. I did it with my family of origin. I still frequently do it. It's not worth a fight. Yeah. Because I know it's going to be one, but occasionally now I'm like trying to find my voice and I have called out family members when they have said something rude and have got that was rude and, oh, sorry.

Like, and, and then it's blown over and we move on rather than now. I'm like hanging onto, I can't believe she said that, like you. Um, so I am calling some things out more, but there's still like, I'm just trying to have a peaceful life. And so that feels contrary to calling out bad behavior, right. Because I know the kind of reaction I'm gonna get and yet by not doing that, I'm still silencing my voice.

And so it's kind of like this battle that I'm having, trying to figure. The dance steps to take. Yeah.

Raven Scott15:45

Which battle to pick. Hmm. Right.

Kathi hennessey15:48

right. So I'm, I'm taking more of the avoidance tact of like, just not spending much time with them or talking to them because then that reduces the chances I have to make this choice of peace or

Raven Scott16:02

standing up for myself.

Yeah. And sometimes that is the best way cuz we can't change them. And if they're continuing to spew all this poison and all this kind of gas lighting towards us. You wouldn't put yourself in a physical, dangerous situation over and over. So why do it emotionally? Yeah. And I think there's a big taboo.

not going to family around the holidays or in general, because you know, they're your family and you should always love them. What do you say to that concept of like blood is thicker than water?

Kathi hennessey16:38

It's interesting because I have, I always thought it was very sad when, and family members didn't talk to each other because I, I felt.

like, well, family is everything. And I do feel that way, particularly with the family I created. Um, mm-hmm but now I'm feeling like I'm in this position of like my I'm not enjoying my family of origin and frequently I'm getting that pit in my stomach. I'm bored. Cuz they're talking. We're not, we don't have mutual interests.

And so they're talking and I'm like, you know, why am I

Raven Scott17:25

here? Can we get off this topic? Yeah, exactly. Why are we talking about cats or birds or whatever, like random stuff that you have no interest. Yeah.

Kathi hennessey17:33

So, um, right. So why do I wanna even be there if I'm bored or silencing myself or, you know, or, or tense wondering, what's gonna be said next.

So it's gonna be interesting because my mother passed in, April and, so now holidays are gonna be different. And I mean, my, the family I created, you know, I have one married, one getting married in September. And so as far as holidays, I can easily host and have a full. Where my family of origin don't need to come.

, but how's that gonna go over? You know, so I it'll be interesting to see, , how that plays out. . I mean, I've already like skipped some holidays and be like, oh, well, you know, we're all. And the pandemic has helped like, well, pandemic, right? like, I'm one of the people that like enjoyed the pandemic. And I think that that was really what the light bulb for me was like, there was so little tension in me.

I mean, there was tension for different reasons, right? Like we all got that in the beginning. Like what is happening and what do I need to pivot? Um, and you know, all of my clients, you know, being stressed to the max and all of that, but then like after that, so like, you know, by summer of 2020, I was like, oh, I'm enjoying not seeing my family.

Like all the, and, and I think that was kind of like the light bulb was like, Hmm, I need to pay attention to this. You.

Raven Scott19:24

. Yeah. Cause

Kathi hennessey19:25

I love that for for years I was like, oh, you know, obligation. I gotta do it. Right.

Raven Scott19:31

It's always an obligation.

Kathi hennessey19:33

Right. Rather than enjoyment, I would rather have enjoyment than obligation.

Raven Scott19:40

Yeah. So 100% life is too short to be constantly in this obligatory fight or flight mode. Yeah. Right. Stress. right now. Do you, do you have any conclusions so far in your studies that kind of like what makes a certain person, a black sheep, like, or are we just kind of born with a certain energy that is maybe, I don't know, more emotionally mature than our family?

Like what, what do you think about why black sheep or exist?

Kathi hennessey20:15

Well, I have been thinking about that and. . and that was like one of my questions. Like, why do you think you were chosen by the family to be the black sheep, as opposed to one of your other siblings or cousins or whatever. And, um, it tends to all come down to the same, like I was different.

I spoke the truth, I, you know, called things out. And so it makes me wonder if like, you know, we're just born that way. and that the older we get, the more, we're expressing what's coming up for us and it's different. And so regardless of how different it's different. And so there's this movement to try to make the same, you know, that we don't talk that way.

We, you know, just don't worry about that. You know, I mean, cuz I remember like, so thinking about coming on today with your focus, being the empath and the narcissist that like are empaths born, right. Which I think, or are they created as a survival mechanism? Cuz a woman that I was talking to yesterday was saying.

One, she thinks that she was born in empath and she was very creative in the first, like eight years of her life. And then things changed in her life and she had to learn to be in tune with what is going on with people. So what mood was this person in? Like she had to read the room so she knew how to behave.

So even if was. Born a certain way and sensitive, like she really had to hone those skills as survival, you know? Um, which I makes total sense, but I hadn't really put it together in that way that, that she had shared, um, which I think is so important because, you know, if we were able to conform, we would have, right, because then.

what, it's not fun being the black sheep. It's not fun being made fun of or treated differently, having different rules for me than for my siblings or right. Like, that's not fun, so we wouldn't have chosen it. . Yeah. Right. So that's where I think like we're born and then it just becomes harder and harder for our family members to deal with, you know?

And. , but I think there's still like so many black sheep are, you know, wear it as a badge of honor, like damn straight. I'm different yeah. Right. I don't wanna be the same, you know, even if there's hurt there, there's still this badge of honor, you know, that, that, yeah. We think different we're in tune we're, call things out as they are, rather than how they're made out to be, you know, with, with the narcissists and codependence and just all of that, that changes what is reality for us anyway, you know?

Raven Scott23:46

Yeah. Yeah. I see. . Yeah. I mean, I always say, you know, keep your unique light shining at the end of every podcast, cuz I do believe you're right. I think we're all born with a unique light and some shine, a little bit brighter. Some of us might have more mature souls. Um, but yet in the thick fog of living this kind of earth life, we, we end up with people who, , kind of snuff our light.

And like you said, you have to put up with coping mechanisms to figure out. , you know, H how to survive without being continually, you know, put outside of the tribe, you know, and I, I wonder if it goes back also to, uh, I don't know, maybe not, but I was just, I was reading a book recently called Mother to Maiden, and it just brings this thought to mind, like so many women kind of.

Keep our, you know, magic in the shadows because it was, we were burned at the stake essentially for being witches. And it's like the same thing. Like the energy of the empath is here to try and shift the collective. But at the same time, we're trying not to be burned at the stake. And so we're coming up with coping mechanisms.

Kathi hennessey24:53

Right, right, right, right. Well, and you know, we're all socialized. differently. So men that are socialized differently than women, of course, different cultures. Um, yeah, I mean, so many women, particularly once they become moms, I think like put themselves at the bottom of the list, if they're on the list at all of who to take care of.

Right. Um, and. , you know, that's, even though it's 20, 22, when women have been in the workforce for, you know, 40 years, um, I mean, women have always been in the workforce, but like in mass, um, that, you know, we're still struggling with that socialization of how we're supposed to behave, but there's still plenty of, um, male, black sheep out there.

You know, but then they're socialized to not have any emotions. And so if you have black sheep, who's sensitive, that's bad. You know, it's, it's very sad because who are our healers, who are our creators, you know? And we're trying to snuff that light out,

Raven Scott26:01

mm-hmm so yeah, absolutely. And men are taught to be quiet.

Men are taught to not cry. Men are, yeah. They're taught to not feel. And so they've just gone numb, like their beautiful empath light has just been hidden under a bowl and they're just numb and they're just kind of working the patriarchal system. That's hurting them too, just grinding away, making money day in, day out, providing for the house and that, that soul sucking as well.

so how, what do we do with this shame? I know some people might be embracing their black sheep and they're like, hell yeah, I am the black sheep. And I was just struggling with this. , I don't know, a couple weeks ago. And , my husband brought up the thought as like, well, what if there's nothing wrong with you?

What if you know you as a black sheep, you are the right one and they're wrong. Like, what if you're not a black sheep at all? Like, why are you identifying as this black sheep? Keeping you in this victimhood. So how do we, how do we break free from staying in this victim title of being the black sheep?

Kathi hennessey27:07

Well, I think, I think that's gonna be a different journey for everyone, obviously. Um, I think it's owning our gifts, figuring out how much contact we wanna have with the people who try to dim our light. Um, and finding your tribe of the people who love you for exactly who you are, wart and all. Um, and I think that that's where, you were the black sheep of your family of origin, but you're not in the rest of your life, you know?

And so like, I have a. She's 71. She identified as the black sheep and she couldn't bring herself to do my study. She's like, I just don't identify that way anymore. She's like, I'm a goddess. I'm like, is she why? But like, so she was able to move past that, right? That's like, yes, that was a part of my story.

But it's so far gone now. This is who I am now. And so I think that it is important to get out of that victim, you know, just like, yeah, I was a bratty teenager. I'm not that person anymore either. Right. And so in this family of origin, I was the black sheep. And maybe, you know, I know I can say that I struggled for a long time.

My first marriage was a very similar situation where. I definitely changed so much about me based on what he liked. And didn't like, um, like I toned down my music. I toned down my clothing choices. I toned down like a lot of things, even though that was what was attractive in the first place. , but now being in a relationship where I am loved.

Specifically for all of those things that other people don't like is so freeing. Um, and so, yeah, I'm the black sheep with that particular group, but in other groups I'm not, and

She said I'm fabulous.

Raven Scott29:37


Kathi hennessey29:38

but it doesn't mean like, you know, I think that we can easily, like whenever we get back together with our family of origin, we all fall back into those roles

so easily. And so, you know, I think when people continue to have contact with their family of origin, you know, it's easy to fall back into that. And so, you know, making sure that it just stays there and it doesn't start permeating the rest of your life again, you know? So that embrace all the things that they didn't like.

you know, that made that make you. And, being okay with that. And so that's acceptance. This is who I am. And you can either like me or not. Uh, but that's hard for a lot of people, a lot of people like, but I want people to like me, that's where that like codependence and, you know, comes in and people pleasing.

It's like, well, they should like the authentic, you, not the fake you that you're trying to be. You. and like, in my practice, it's hard when I have like clients who have a very small social network. And so to be able to say, but these people are toxic to you, but if I, you know, go no contact with them, I have no one.

Hmm. So, so those people are tough, but I think if you can find your tribe, it's easier to distance yourself from the toxic people. So I think finding a tribe.

Raven Scott31:14

Hmm. It's like a catch 22 for those types of people, because they've lost trust in people because of the toxic people in their lives. But at the same time, I can't let go of them.

Cuz then they they'll be all alone and have nobody. I, I totally resonate with that. Yeah. Yeah.

Kathi hennessey31:30

Like I don't know that I'll ever go no contact, but I definitely have low contact. I, like I said, I just don't enjoy them. Like, I don't like them. They don't like me. There's love there though. Like, I know if something happened, we would all be there.

So there's still a bond, but we're not friends and that's okay.

Raven Scott32:01

Yeah. That's true. Being able to accept that. That's okay. Because a lot of us feel like, well, if we Don. 100% get along and jive and like our friends with our family, then there's something wrong with us, but that's, that's not the case, you know?

Do you agree that that that's not the case at all?

Kathi hennessey32:20

Yeah, I think that, yeah, like I, there are some people that feel like there's just too much bad to have any contact at all. And, you know, getting coming to that decision. , um, it's not easy. Um, but others can have enough contact that there's some kind of connection, but no, you're not gonna spend time socially or, you know, talk all the time.

Cuz it's just not enough there. You know? And that's what I'm trying to do. Like I don't wanna go completely, no contact. Right.

Raven Scott33:05

Check in, make sure you're breathing. Okay. Good. Great. Glad you're still alive.

Kathi hennessey33:09

moving on. You can see I'm active on social media. That's all you need to know. Exactly.

Raven Scott33:16

Um, another thing that popped up for me when you were talking about, um, you know, that low contact and interacting with your family while you're still trying to figure this out is that whole term boundaries, right?

Developing boundaries for yourself and allowing yourself maybe to walk out early, if things just get too uncomfortable and you're starting to get gas that you're like, you know what? I really have to get whatever excuse you need to make. Or you just say, this is enough. I need to go like walk out. Right.

What do you think about people are, I mean, it takes some, some guts, but do you think, um, How would you advise a sensitive impasse who don't wanna hurt people's feelings to use

Kathi hennessey33:58

boundaries? Um, well, I definitely encourage people to, if they're going somewhere, bring their own car. Right. Cause then they have that option of just leaving.

Um, if they can't be fully honest as to why they need to go, there's a bullet load of excuses. I'm sure that they could come up with. Um, but yeah, limiting. Contact and making sure there's an escape route, you know? So by having, um, and I've worked like with people that are like, yeah, but she wants to, to pick us up, come up with an excuse, why you need your own car, have your own car.

So then if they start down that same road, you can say, I'm not feeling well, I'm leaving, you know, or I've asked you to stop. You haven't stopped. I'm gonna go. Um, but it is, I, you know, it can be hard to break out of that, those types of relationships and takes a lot of guts. Um, but it's, it's worth it. It's feeling like you're getting control of the situation again, rather than always feeling like, you know, the victim that I, I have no power in this situation.

I can stand up and now I'm gonna be accused of causing trouble and being the crazy. And, you know, being too sensitive, taking things too far. Right. Or, you know, just sitting there and taking it. So having some control of, you know, I'm gonna come for a little while and then I'm gonna go, I'm not gonna have too much to drink.

So I'm not gonna, say things that I am gonna regret later. Right. Like, you know, I think there are ways to do it, but I think having friends. Love your partner that love you for who you are helps to remind you that you're not the person that your family makes you out to be. I think we can all heal from this.

Some people need to do some trauma, um, but most of us just need to accept. Who we are and the gifts that we've been given. And I love, you know, I've seen a lot of, um, posts that say, you know, black sheep are, were sent here to, um, break the generational curses. And while I don't know if I. Understand or believe the whole, you know, scent here that, you know, it was fate that we ended up where we are, but it certainly feels good to, um, think that we were created for a purpose to make changes in a generational line.

And I feel that I have done that with, um, my kids. , I definitely have a different relationship with my kids than I had with my mom, because I was, um, more open to hearing what they had to say. And so, um, I think it's just, like I said, you know, accepting who you are and the gifts rather than the negative aspect of the faults.

Um, I think we have gifts and. Embracing them and finding other people in our lives that embrace them as well. Yeah. And you might need therapy to help with that, um, or self-help books, which is what I hope my book will help people with or combination. So, um, yeah, that is, that is my hope, but I am. An optimist so, um,

Raven Scott37:56

yes, I am as well, a forever optimist, and I do know that there is hope and I love that you're changing the patterns, ancestral patterns with your children.

That is one of the biggest goals in my life as well. So, yes, as impacts as black sheep, we are all here to shift the collect. Um, evolve into more mature souls and break the toxic patterns of our ancestry. Thank you so much for being here. I truly appreciated your expertise and your input into this topic.

It's been amazing.

Kathi hennessey38:33

Thank you. Thank you for having me. Um, this was fun , I hope. Stay in touch.

Raven Scott38:39

Thank you so much, everybody. Yes. Perfectly said beautifully spoken. I cannot agree anymore. Like amazing. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and I can't wait. To read your book when it comes out, keep us posted on that.

Yeah. Make sure everyone you, if you enjoyed this podcast episode, take a screenshot and share it to your Instagram stories and tag myself at Raven Scott show and Kathy at being underscore the underscore black underscore sheep. Thank you again for listening and reviewing and sharing this podcast with all of your fellow empaths of the.

And remember always keep your unique light shining.