A Late Night Rant

What follows is a little late night catharsis and reflection - 
I’m sure more things of this type will follow in time. 
If your feeling sentimental dig right on in!

So it occurred to me today that perhaps a brief release might aid in my tollerance of my day to day life here in China. Perhaps a candid rant about my father would allow me to lesson the load on my back. We’ve come a long way as a father and son and though I am proud of what I have allowed myself to do on his/our behalf, though I understand – to some extent – why he has difficulty dealing with some parts of his past and himself, I cannot help but to be increadibly pissed off by his emotional ignorance at times. I can’t claim to completely understand it as I don’t know too much about his past. It is obvious that he has issues with his pride – issues that he may never fully confront. When aggrevated or irratable he reverts back to his usual capcious self – to the point that its not worth the effort to engage him. I remember a month or so ago when he came over to my desk complained in brief about something on my desk and then walked away. This however is something I’ve grown accustomed to as I’ve experienced so much of it growing up. I think what aggrevates me the most currently is his argumentative nature when conversing with me. I don’t know where it arises from but it is quite obvious that the default reaction to any declaration on my part is to object and/or disagree. It makes no difference what it is in particular that we’re talking about, I think simply the fact that I am the declarer merits this reaction. I suppose I can understand it in another way – when something is proposed to me from him I too adapt the stance of objection. However I moderate myself heavily, I’m much more apt to overcome that initial reaction. Perhaps it has something to do with the closeness of our relationship, the same can be said for much of my family – though that can easily be argued a result of the examples of interaction with loved ones we grew up around.

So what exactly is the original source of this disposition? Is it a cultural phenomenon? Is it a portion of his own past that somehow taught him this was the proper way to interact with those close to you? Perhaps some injury or defense mechanism operating from long before i was born. I can easily see its influence on his behavior and its effect on me and my brothers throughout my life. Of course he could never approve of anything I did, it was necessary that he chop me down whenever he could for whatever reason he could find. His tactic isn’t completely unsound its his lack of moderation that makes it a downright toxic influence to a developing individual. In many cases as i mentioned before it didn’t matter what the subject was or the circumstances surrounding the origination of a conversation/arguement – there was always something that could be disagreed with and argued over. I remember a time, when I was on harsher terms with my father, we were arguing about whether or not it was possible to “teach” certain characteristics or if they were in fact inate and there was little to be done about changing them. I began the conversation claiming that of course you could teach/reinforce any characteristic you’d like in your children – as a parent what you do and what you DON’T do all have the power to influence. He disagreed on some grounds or another. By the time we arrived at the store (forgot to mention we were driving to wal-mart ~15 min drive) he was arguing my side and i was arguing the other. This was no mistake I intentionally switched camps to prove a point – it didn’t matter where I sat or what I choose to talk about – far more often than not he was apt to disagree and argue. Adopting strong meaningful grounds for argument based on beliefs and experience as opposed to reactionary meaningless ones, and being able to discern those things not worth arguing about, would have made his parenting techniques much more effective.

Then there is the ever aggrevating rationalization he holds to explain my depression when I was in college. It must be due to genetics and the fact that I took the drug “Accutane,” god forbid he accept any blame for my experience growing up. It is so painfully obvious that this rationaliztion, like so many others, are completely self-serving. I told him for a long time I believed in the “nurture” side of the nature v. nurture argument but that as I had developed a stabler mindset I realized that that too was a self-serving rationalization of my character and experience. There is nothing absolute and difinitive about either side of that arguement and a unbiased, level-headed individual of a rational sort would have no trouble seeing the merit to both sides. Perhaps it inspires so much of a reaction out of me because its dismissive of my experience and acknowledges how little he listens to some of what I say when it comes to tender matters – where accepting what I say would be emotionally harmful to him. Even to this day I do and probably will always have to be the “bigger” person when it comes to some things. The other night as we came back from HK in a half-inebriated daze we were arguing about our family and whose ideas/perspective were valid and whose was not – I came to a point in the argument where he could say nothing in responce – I think something along the lines of him simply owning what he was and forgiving himself so we could all move on – perhaps it was someting else – I’m not certain. I could have continued to pound him with that point – I could have been beligerant – but I knew that what had been said was enough, that it was not right to take advantage of my power in that situation to berate him. That is not a luxury he would grant me, nor is it one that I believe he is even aware of me awarding him. At least its no longer detrimental, its just an irritant that must be tollerated and worked on from both sides. I must exercise tollerance and ignore certain trespasses whose intentions are well grounded. I am proud of my strength in his presence and know that it makes me a stronger person each day overcoming that challenge. I know who I am and strive to become who I want to be – I can face most anything with resilience, though of course I have my setbacks, my unwillingness to let them conquer me is whats most important.

I miss my kin, though we’re not much for gooshy talk just spending time with my brothers is satisfying. I wish my life now didn’t require me to be so far away from them – I suppose it will in time only make us appreciate one another more. I hope they’ll be ok – materially I have few worries about my middle brother but there are pieces of his emotional self that do cause me some worry. There isn’t much I can do about it, he is too much like one side of me, like a big part of my father – analytic, stressed – dense and dissatisfied and not easily approachable when it comes to some matters. There is no talking to him about things which has already written off as not important enough to devote energy to and/or ridiculous – and I actually admire that to some extent, he is a strong person – a loving brother and son – and with a little work on his softer side to moderate that analytic engine of his he could be damn near unstopable. I wonder to what degree he has deconstructed himself – does he draw the link between his stance on how to deal with problems that he interpretes as pragmatically unsolvable and our father’s like methodology. My father’s choice to live in China, in effect abandoning his family – a problem which he didn’t see himself able to do anything about – clearly displays his disposition. I know he acknowledges or has at least begun to acknowledge how much of what he has done in his life and continues to do is to please my father – that is the very beginning of the ordeal I went through. Though I think he holds it against me to some extent – I hope that in time he will understand that it was simply the difference in our temperment and character that caused me to falter as I did growing up under the same roof as he did. I fight when he would write it off as an unnecessary waste of energy – it is how I’ve always been. 

Jack, I guess I’m guilty of being less than I want to be as a brother to him at this point. I have about as much experience with his life now as my father did with his us after he moved back to China. I only know what I hear about whats going on in his life and what I saw when i was back for Christmas. I worry because of the ‘laziness’ though I do not believe in such a condition for people our age. I know there is a lot more to it than lack of energy or will. He is tenacious, passionate, articulate, but lost. So much like what I experienced in myself during that time period. He is unique but not unlike me in some fundamental ways. He doesn’t take care of himself. He doesn’t fight and engage, he has the ability but he remains by and large reactionary. It is not an easy thing to learn – the necessity of grapping with life and its challenges. I know the ineffectiveness of the methodology we adopt to motivate ourselves out of that condition – the voice of my father. I don’t think he’s come to experience a depression as deep as mine but I believe with very little uncertainty that he at the very least oscillates in and out of depression. Its obvious to me when I see how he spends his time and how he reacts to certain threats/challenges presented to him. I’m glad that he is at least seems approachable – I don’t know where he has set up his barriers and i don’t know if he’d trust me to enough to let me inside them – but he’s not as stoneheaded as Mat. He would really be in a tough place to move forward in life if he were both depressed and stoneheaded.

I suppose I should devote a sentance or two to yelling at my brothers for treating me as they did when I was dealing with my dad shit. Looking at me as if I were a problem, assuming that there was something wrong with me as opposed to challenging themselves to explore the possiblity that the causation of my condition lay in my experience of my father. I suppose its not much different from the other things they gave me shit for growing up, all the things that I experienced first and they chose to ridicule my responce to – only to end up doing the same thing when it came their turn. Best examples I can think of were when I learned to drive and when i crashed my car. They both in turn had similar experiences learning to drive and in time smashing their own vehicals. Guess the connection wasn’t so distinctly drawn in their minds. 

I’m confident in time they will see what i went through as an act of love for my family – they will each of them benefit from how I challenged myself in that time and the peices of myself and my experince growing up that I overcame. Jack probably sooner than Mat if I had to guess. The insight and understanding of my family my ordeal granted me along with the strength and confidence I’ve grown into will provide me with the power to help them when they come to terms with their own personal battles. I believe those times will come to pass but I’m not without understanding that they may never come. I believe it best to be prepared for it so as to limit the damage if possible. I’ve saccraficed more than 3 years of my life dealing with these things – the voices and experiences of my upbringing as they played into who I was – and I’ll be damned if it costs my brothers more than it absolutely must.

As I see it everything I do I feel is for my family, I hope they respect and understand that in time. I fight my mother now for my family, I live here in China and challenge myself to continue fighting my father and develop myself for my family, in time if I have to I will fight both of my brothers for the sake of my family. I will work my ass off, be successful, fight the world so I can give back to my family. I fight myself daily to overcome my weaknesses so that I can occupy a position where I can give back to them – this is the core of my motivation which falls even before my own desires for success and riches – and they are already quite ambitious :-) .

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