Friday, June 17, 2011

Same threats, same anger, different men

Lo and I are sitting on the porch outside drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and reading. She is reading "possum living" which is about how a girl and her dad lived without working. I would like to try that, but I do not want to raise rabbits to eat in the cellar like she did. Lo has been reading exherpts out of it and they are funny. She dropped out of school in seventh grade so she could learn useful things like how to make moonshine. The girl wrote the book when she was 17. What makes it most interesting to me is she ended up becoming an aerospace engineer. I am reading a Madaline L'Engle book that at the point is a bit depressing so I thought I would put it down for a bit.

Anyway the reason I wanted to get on here is because I had these two experiences yesterday which I wanted to think about. Plus I haven't blogged in a while and it was a great coping mechanism.

Yesterday I spent time with two dads. They are very similar in many ways. They both are very angry, they both make threats, they both could probably take your head off literally. They both know how to use a weapon and even though they mostly just make threats about beating the crap out of someone or going to hunt them down I know they are not always empty threats. One bragged back in the day he could lay his four grand on the kitchen counter even when his house was full of people and no one would touch it because they knew what would happen if they did.

What struck me is that because of his kids one of these men turned his life around without rehab or an AA group. Mostly he did it because of the support of his best friend and the love of his kids.

Most of the families I work with have generations of horrific parenting. For example, when siblings would be fighting over a toy the parenting solution was to lock one door and papaw would stand at the other, put the toy on the couch and make the kids fight it out until they were bloody and whoever won got the toy. Another would be punished with jumper cables. And another was whipped and thrown out in the snow without shoes to learn his lesson. Much different than I was raised for sure. Stories like these from the parents are the norm.

The difference is in how they tell their stories. One focusing on how bad other people are and how they are going to get revenge. The other able to talk about how even when no one else knew they were doing drugs their daughter knew and the thought of that caused them to get off drugs.

What was most interesting to me is how I felt when with these two dads. The second one I sat with for a long time listening to his story. He actually knew his story. He has turned his life around for his kids and I felt that soft hushed feeling inside of me while I listened, which I usually only hear when there is a miracle. It is a miracle he was able to transform. The first one was still in fighting mode and claimed everything was everyone else's fault. He also didn't have a coherent story about his life. What this made me think about was how can have the same threats, the same anger, but in the end what made the two men different is three things: one had a best friend walking the same road, he is funneling his anger and even aggression to keep temptation and drugs out of the house and protect his kids, and somehow he was able to look at his story and write a different ending. Or at least that's what it looks like today.

1 comment:

Random Reflections said...

Good to see you back blogging.

We have choices to make in life, and we choose how to understand and deal with our circumstances.

My father is more like the first father, and lacks any real insight into how he deals with life or how he treats other people.

I sometime think that things could have been very different if he had chosen to face things rather than lash out or blame others. I think at 70 years old, it is too late for him to gain that insight now though.