Saturday, June 16, 2007

All In The Family

Eugene was telling me that recently his younger brother was arrested for disorderly conduct while drunk. He got into an alteraction with someone outside of a bar. He found out about the arrest when his Mom called asking the family to ship in for bail money.

This wasn't AntiGene's first time in the slammer. Eugene mentioned that AntiGene went to jail before due to an alcohol related issue. That time his parents basically posted the bail.

Eugene was a bit miffed about AntiGene's behavior. Worse yet since AntiGene was released from jail for his recent altercation, he hasn't thanked Eugene for helping him.

It's wild to me thinking about how Eugene and AntiGene while brothers are different as night and day. But then I only have to think about how different my sisters and I are from each other.

Alcoholism isn't limited to AntiGene. Eugene mentioned that his father drank a lot as well and their relationship today is strained.

The impact of his father's drinking was fresh in his mind again when talking to his older sis EmmaGene. Eugene delved into the topic of how her grown kids were being rebels (for whatever reason) and EmmaGene got emotional. She mentioned how Eugene wasn't there through a lot of the things (he moved out once he started college out of state) she went through due to their father. She felt like she had to play the role of protector of her siblings and I guess by extension to her kids (that she had while a teenager). Eugene was speechless and wasn't sure what to say. But it sounds like a lot of resentment is still present.

Eugene and I continued our conversation about family dynamics. He mentioned one of his close friends was mad at his sister. His sister it seemed has lots of issues and a tendency to be quite violent. It was so bad that one time she was choking her mother during an argument and only stopped herself when she realized what she was doing. The sister in turn blamed her parents for not being there for her. For example, she cited how their father would go to Eugene's friends football games but not attend her volleyball games. It appeared that their parents favored Eugene's friend over her.

That led to me talking about my family dynamics. I touched on how my parents favored me and the resentment my sisters had against me for it. Thinking about it, I could see how I would get encouragement from my folks a bit more. My older sis Tasha never really did well in school and it was almost like my parents gave up on her after a while. There were times when Tasha acted out in different ways. Thinking about it now, I think it was her way of trying to get attention.

As for me, I always felt a lot of pressure from my folks to succeed in life. There were even times when my folks would tell me don't turn out like Tasha. I have the tendency to want to please folks so that extra push gave me the drive to get through college and eventually make a career.

Tasha didn't have that same push. She did go to community college and got an associates but her focus seemed to change. One minute she'd want to do nursing, the next business. I think her true desire was to go to cosmotology school but my Mom discouraged her from pursuing it. I do remember at one point she did get a dummy w/hair to play with but she didn't go far with it. Today Tasha seems to harbor a lot of anger. It becomes more apparent whenever my parents (especially my Mom) asks her to do something. I wonder if part of her anger stems from the irony that my parents have somewhat become dependent on Tasha yet growing up she felt ignored by them. Tasha at one time told me that she felt like nothing she does is ever right. I think a lot of her experiences growing up shaped her into the person she is today.

On the flip side, my younger sis Trina excelled in school. In fact she was much smarter than I was, even becoming her class valedictorian. Unlike Tasha and I, Trina was more of a social butterfly. She went to dances, hung out w/ friends, etc. etc. I remember my Mom asking why Trina was so different socially from Tasha and I. I told my Mom that all of us are different and is just the nature of siblings.

Trina's need for independence was much stronger than Tasha and I. She got a big taste of it once she got her first job just before graduation. She also interacted with lots of folks from "the wrong side of the tracks". She got a full scholarship to a state university. She studied for about a year or so but couldn't decide on a major. Her grades started slipping and eventually she dropped out.

Despite all that, Trina's desire to leave the nest was strong. She still stayed out late with "friends", which bothered my parents. Trina didn't get whipped as much as Tasha and I used to be. But one incident I remember is when my Dad whipped Tasha while Trina and I were eating. Trina started crying as well. I never did talk to Trina about that but I wonder what effect her seeing Tasha and I getting whipped from time to time had on her. Maybe her need to get out the house stemmed from those earlier experiences.

Then I think about how my Mom laments that she wishes that my sisters were closer to her. You know, that whole mother/daughter thing. Part of the problem is that my Mom sees a lot of things as black and white with little shades of gray. Plus my Mom is pretty traditional in a lot of her thinking, mostly because she pretty much is dependent on my Dad for income. My sisters on the flip side are more worldly and independent thinking. I think a lot of times they don't relate much to each other.

As for my Dad, I don't know. I do love my Dad, especially since he's mellowed quite a bit. But sometimes I think about those early days and the effect it had on my siblings and I. But I know we can't change the past.

I think about folks like AntiGene that act disorderly. Sure a messed up childhood can play a role in those future actions. But on the flipside, all the blame can't be placed on how your parents treat you. There has to be a line where a person knows what they're doing isn't right. Some accountability for one's actions must be acknowledged.

It's a tough call as to where that line is drawn. One can debate all day on that. But either way the cycle of life goes on.

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Blogger Rose said...

it's a hard call to help someone who keeps doing the same thing..

11:59 PM, June 16, 2007  
Blogger yet another black guy said...

dude this is so my life. i've tried to help my sisters (and mom) to let go of that anger by focusing on self. unfortunately, many people tend to harm themselves when they act out and mess up some good chances.

i've taken to distancing myself to concentrate on me, which is not the answer i'm sure. i wish there was something i could do to make them stop the blame game and just try to improve themselves.

2:44 AM, June 17, 2007  
Blogger Omar Ramon said...

I have almost always been the type of person to hold back on judgement of a person's actions and wonder..."WHY" So many people share so much pain. There doesn't seme to be enough time in a day to address it all and so much of it is burried under defense mechanisms and instances of "acting out" that noone gets to the bottom of it as soon as one would hope.

Hope your family finds the healling and balance it needs.

11:31 AM, June 18, 2007  
Blogger That Dude Right There said...

I agree that parents should not shoulder all of the blame when their kids act out, but I do believe that most of it can be placed on them. My parents were always there physically, but not emotionally and it has had a profound effect on my life.

At 29 years old, I am still trying to manage some of those effects of their parenting. But on the other hand, like you said, I do know what is right and wrong.

10:18 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Mr. Jones said...

Unless the parent's just did a really shitty job with their kid, they shouldn't shoulder blame. At some point, Antigene needs to be his own burden barer. If I were his parent, I wouldn't helped once. He'd have to find his way out of qny subsequent jail visits on his own.

2:57 AM, June 24, 2007  

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