AP Lang & Comp
21 September 2005
Many people say blood is thicker than water, and scientifically that fact is infallible. However, in a metaphorical sense the statement is not universally true. Some family members, I have a profound and important connection with, while others I won’t know are dead until I see their obituaries in the local newspaper. My family has, for good and for bad, been pivotal in shaping the person I’ve become.
Topping the illustrious list of family better left forgotten is my mother. My mother was never much involved with my life unless berating me. I often got (and get!) into hot water for unpredictable things. One day I found out that my debate meeting was going to be over an hour early, so I called my mom as soon as I found out (at 3:00 PM). I was trying to do her a favor (knowing she has a really busy schedule, what with being a real estate agent and all) by letting her know that if it would work better for her to pick me up later, that was entirely possible. I could also do homework while I waited for her until 5:00 PM. I instead received a stern tongue-lashing at her hands for 15 minutes about how irresponsible I was and how much harder I made her life. When I was picked up at 5, I put up with more of the same for the thirty-minute drive home – without objection.
I learned long ago by watching my brother and sister not to fight back or say anything – that just makes her tirade even more cutting. If you asked my peers, they would likely describe me as a stoic person; after my mom gets done with me I choke back tears until I get to my room, and even then I try to hold back. If she hears me crying, she teases me and calls me a “little baby.” She’s called me a “worthless piece of shit” despite my best efforts to convince her I’m not (through school, extra curricular activities and the writing of my novel) and has called me a “greedy bastard” after asking for some food money to be used on a field trip to Canada. Worse than all her negativity are her sporadic moments of sanity and compassion. After spending an hour to chew me out, she’d take a minute to say that she was “really sorry” and that she “shouldn’t have acted that way.” For a time I forgave her. But apologies were rare, and more often than not she’d just throw a few dollars my way and hope the bad situation would be forgotten – which it wasn’t. It became very difficult to trust my mom because of how wish-washy she was. My mom is responsible for my numerous insecurities as well as my generally downtrodden mood.
Perhaps as a symptom of my melancholy, I don’t feel too particularly attached to either my dad or my sister. For as long as my memory has been operable, my dad has been distant from me. Either he would be at the computer, working on one fruitless project or the next, or he’d be at work. For years he talked of all the things we’d do together – camping, fishing, hunting, restoring old cars…you name it, he promised it and never made good on it. In fact, the first time I did most of those things, I did them with my friends’s dads. My father regularly abused my trust, and that’s had a lasting impact on my life. Even now I have trouble trusting anyone. Even before my father moved to California a few years ago, he wasn’t much of a presence in my life. Even now, I’ve talked to him maybe a dozen times and seen him half has often.
My dad wasn’t smart with money either: every three years (like clockwork) we would have to move from our current residence because my dad hadn’t been paying his bills for a year or two. Just when we all thought he wouldn’t be able to continue doing this, he filed for bankruptcy! To top it all off, he ended up losing the first house our family tried to buy in much the same way. From him I learned how important it was not to be a screw-job with money. I also noticed that he was stuck in a job he hated because he didn’t go on to college or try very hard in high school, thinking instead he could just “do something with cars” his whole life. That’s only reinforced my fervor for education.
My sister only made a tense situation around the house even worse. She had a penchant for drama; our house was her stage and the tragedy was her life. I don’t pay attention to her much anymore, and my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I do remember getting into trouble because she’d lie about my brother and me. She was also sarcastic enough to warrant my mother calling her a “bitch,” despite my mom chiefly favoring my sister among her children. There was an event just this week in which my sister proceeded to push my buttons by popping off to me for twenty minutes. Her expressions and tone are something that can’t be written down – suffice to say they are highly aggravating. She eventually began to get in my face and cut me off whenever I tried to get a word in edgewise. I had to grab her arm to make her pay attention to me (I was not rough with her, I didn’t pull or push her) and to get her to be quiet. She (of course) overreacted, crying and running down the street shouting “GET AWAY FROM ME!” After ten minutes she’d seemingly forgotten about the whole situation and was perfectly content. These kinds of things drive me insane. While it may seem like my immediate family has done me no good, that isn’t necessarily the case.
My brother was my father when the real one wasn’t around, my teacher before school began and my first and truest friend. In my younger days he introduced me to the fundamentals of education – reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education has been important to me because it alone provides me with a way to improve my quality of life. He also introduced me to my single vice (and one of my largest passions) – video gaming. Some of my earliest memories are not of myself, but are instead of him. When he would go off to school, I would stand in the windowsill and cry, wishing he didn’t have to leave. We easily sympathized with each other growing up, as we both had a common evil in our lives – our mother. However, when I was in middle school, my brother began his slow downward spiral into alcoholism (which peaked during his brief enrollment at WSU). His problem became mine as I waited up in the early hours of the morning to let him back into the house, where he promptly passed out. Because of his struggles with alcohol, I resolved never to touch the stuff myself. I can thusly thank my brother for two things – my intelligence and my strict intolerance of all substances illicit.
My family has imparted into me several virtues as well as grated on my very sanity. Thanks to them I pursue my education feverishly and refuse to ‘experiment’ with drugs, but I also owe them my gratitude for my less-than-stellar track record with personal relationships. Because of my oft-uninviting demeanor coupled with my lack of trust, I tend not to make or keep friends easily. But while my family may have been influential in shaping me, they haven’t cast me in iron. I am not bound or chained by them, and I am in control of my future. Cuts are, after all, only skin deep.