Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday Soapbox

Recently, my extended family has had big trouble. Trouble of a very bad kind, most likely induced by drugs or alcohol. Or both, for all I know. Threats were made from a son to a father, resulting in bodily harm to the father, and ultimately resulting in jail time for sonny boy.

My cousin.

To be honest, this small auxiliary branch of the family tree has bloomed trouble ever since it first sprouted from the trunk.

Mine is not the first family to be affected by unchecked addiction, and sadly, we will be far from the last. And I have to ask myself, why? Why are there so many people out there who see substance abuse as the key to their troubles? Are there not a million cautionary tales? But they always think they are the ones who will be in control. Those other idiots don't have the self control and willpower that they do. And thus begins the slide down the slippery slope of addiction.

I can only speak to my own family as to why these problems began with my cousin in the first place. I have thought long and hard about this, for these people are related to me. Although I wish to have nothing to do with them, I felt the need to at least try and understand what happened so as not to repeat the same mistake. Cautionary tales and all that.

For most of his life, my grandmother has given my uncle a free pass. I remember when I was younger that my mother and grandmother were in a huge fight. I never knew why, I just knew that we didn't see them too often, and when we did, we were either picked up or dropped off. Eventually a truce was declared, and everything moved on from there, and the couple of years that fight encompassed was a blip on the screen.

Only a couple of years ago did I learn the source of the fight. It was my uncle. It seems that my granparents had left on vacation, and while they were away, my uncle, being in his early twenties and still living at home, trashed the place. Didn't do any laundry, dishes, or cleaning for almost two weeks. When my grandparents came home, they were angry and upset. At my mother. Why hadn't she come in and cleaned for my uncle? What kind of horrible daughter-in-law would leave the house in that condition for them to come home to?

I'm sure you are noticing that they didn't care about my uncle's lack of responsibility. As much as I adore my grandparents with all of my heart, I have to take my mom's side on this one. This story is just a tiny indicator of the way nothing was ever expected of my uncle. In fact, I am surprised he ever even made it out of bed most days, the way my grandmother coddled him.

Well, my uncle continued that style of parenting for my cousin. Loser does not even begin to describe this "man." I will call him a man since he is legally an adult, yet he has no high school diploma, not even a GED. He has never held a job, and has never lived anywhere but in my uncle's home. Despite being almost thirty.

Nothing but excuses have ever been made for him, from both my uncle and my grandmother. To be honest, if no one ever held me responsible for anything I've ever done in my life, perhaps I would have done drugs all day as well. It's hard to say.

For the life of me, I cannot understand where the people who enable people such as my cousin are coming from. Why has no one ever sat his ass down and said, "Look, either you go to rehab/get a job/move out of here this instant or you are out. Don't look to me for help until you prove to me that you can at least help yourself."

Why?

Instead of accountability being demanded, there is denial. Instead of heads rolling, an extra bed is set up. Instead of punishment, eyes are averted and everyone pretends everything is ok, sometimes the behavior is even rewarded. As the addict becomes someone unrecognizable, all that is seen is the sweet child they used to be.

I want to shake them, I want to yell in their face for them to do something. Yet I don't. Do you know why? Because then I will be the bad guy. I will be the one bad-mouthing the poor unfortunate one, and goodness knows that the truth hurts and that the messenger is always shot. Some would consider it cowardly, but I have already tried and it has gotten me nothing. No one wants to hear what they already know in their heart but for whatever reason, are incapable of even attempting to fix it. It is ever so much easier to focus on the person in front of you who has the audacity to tell you what is going on.

I consider myself cautioned.

But I still don't understand.

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