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Morality and paradigm shifts of personality

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Heavy title there right? I've been deep in some philosophical thoughts late yesterday and so far today... I had a really long good chat with my brother on google chat which helped me muddle through a lot of my thoughts, so maybe this blog won't be as long as I thought it might be... or it will be... proceed at your own will, it might be heavy enough to match my title.

What started this endeavor of thought? My 16 year old step brother, who I've never been terribly close to (our parents married when I was already away at college, I only lived in a house with him for about 9 months when I was 22/23), was caught stealing from Spencers and has apparently taken up smoking just like his father - he's grounded for who knows how long and my mom was going on about how he's just "commited to self destruction" and that if she catches him smoking in the house he's gone and regardless he'll be kicked out at 18 whether he's done school or not (he's currently 2 years behind)

Now, I am not the biggest fan of my mother's husband - I never have been, and I actually have told her as much. The step brother in question has been in and out of trouble for a few years now, he took a knife to school at 13 to "show off" - no malice of violence in his mind, he just wanted to parade his shiny dangerous toy to his friends. He stole my macbook for a day and hid it in his closet, even "helped" me look for it as I cried distraught over the possible loss of something so incredibly important to me as a young trying-to-be-professional woman. Once we found the computer in his closet, he climbed out his bedroom window and ran away - a passerby found him walking along a back road hours later after dark and brought him home. For years I've listened to my mother's husband talk about how "stupid" his son is, how he is just so convinced to do bad things, he can't be trusted, he can't this - he can't that. No wonder the boy acts like he does - if I were told I were such a horrible human being for so long, I'd probably figure it wasn't worth the effort to behave in a socially acceptable manner either. If I wanted to get academic about it I'd go on a rant about internalizing stereotypes and racism (my step brother is half hispanic and identifies as such) but thats a whole other post.

When my step brother has been in trouble before, I've thought about trying to take him aside and let him know that I worry for him and I understand if he needs someone who is not his father (or his questionable half sisters who have problems of their own), but I haven't been in a position to do it. I've been still reliant on my mom and disturbing those waters could have been more detrimental to myself and my step brother than would have been beneficial. We've crossed a threshold... the benefits of making my self available to my step brother as a supporter now outweight the possible risks. If I piss off my mom and his father - it doesn't really matter any more, I will be the offender and I will accept whatever their reaction might be towards me. I am also steadfast in believing that whatever he and I talk about is none of their business unless they really must know (i.e. infectious diseases). His well being is in an evermore precarious place, if there's a chance that I could offer some sanity or relief from whatever is bugging him it's worth it. I really want to say, 'hey, stealing and smoking are not great choices - but they don't make you a doomed individual, and if you'd like to talk about whatever is going on I'm happy to hear you out - I care about you and those bonds are not so easily broken'

Which brings me to the paradigm shifts... I couldn't have imagined doing such a thing not all that long ago, how did I get here? My brother congratulated me on acheiving "big sibiling" mentality. I remembered how when he was in college, he told me he wished he could have adopted me and brought me to live with him to get me away from our parents very messy divorce. I was drowning in their animosity, and he saw it. Just his musing of wanting to whisk me away told me that I wasn't crazy - it really was a bad situation that I was in, and my feelings about it were valid. I got even more clarity on the whole thing as I established myself in college. But how did I get from there to here?

My mom had mentioned a few months ago how much I've changed since the fire, I couldn't see what she was talking about. I see it now and I see other times in my life where it's happened too. It wasn't just the fire that caused the shift, it's been a long slow seismic move since probably about 2010, and I could list some of the more significant things that fed that shift - but I already did in an earlier blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
I'm realizing that I am not the person that I was when I graduated college 4 years ago any more, not in a bad way - actually in a very good way, I'm very proud of myself.

+1 up and 8-bit fireworks acheivement unlocked - adulthood

now that I've managed that... maybe I can direct my step brother in the vicinity of productive adulthood too, that would be awesome.

tl;dr - I think so much, it hurts some times. I can do responsible things woo!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have watched the changes, and while there have been drastic things happen that gave you some rapid pushes, I think the "growing up" has been natural and steady. It's just some times we look back and it seems like a major shift. You have matured from a great young lady of potential who I adopted as a "little sister" to a wonderful woman I am proud to call my best friend.
    I recently was thinking about the way I view and have viewed in the past my romantic relationships and how I function within them, starting with my marriage. How I function with "S" (again, not the relationship but how I view my role in it and it's role in my life) is so massive different from that first major relationship it is startling. But when I look back I realize how slowly I shifted, how I grew more confident, learned from mistakes, and learned to let my romantic life enhance my life but not define it.
    Many things caused those changes, some more drastic than others but it was more gradual than it sometimes felt.

    Okay I feel to old, mature, and wise now, time to go blow some bubbles in the woods.
    1845 days ago
    Wow, you have faced a lot of challenges. Offering support to your step brother could be the one thing he needs for the courage to turn himself around or he could reject your effort entirely. Either way, you will have tried. Take care of yourself.
    1863 days ago
    Wow... I'm speechless. You've gone through a lot. I don't think there is a eureka moment for when you become mature and responsible - rather it's a gradual process which happens in ripples, dips and fluctuations rather than in steady increments.

    So it's kinda hard to pinpoint when you went from "here" to "there" but I do think the fact that you've realized the change in yourself means you've accepted to move further on this path and now the thought processes that are already defining your adulthood and maturity are going to be a lot more conscious.

    And yes, you should be very proud of yourself - hope it all works out with your step brother. I liked this blog very much, hope you get featured soon so everyone can share some of it's magic. emoticon
    1864 days ago
  • TIFFA409
    I really admire you for your bravery and maturity. Sometimes kids need to hear what they are good at and what is good about them. (Other kids need to hear it a little less, lol.) let us know how this new endeavor goes :-)
    1865 days ago
    I always say that when children hit about 13, their parents have a slow slide into stupidity and around 18 their parents start getting smarter again. Some are later bloomers than others, but it seems to be a pretty natural progression. I am happy to say that I regained my intelligence in my children's eyes (finally).

    Not coming from a blended family and never having had one, I can't imagine how all of that works for you guys, it sounds terribly difficult. Being raised and raising kids is difficult enough. The closest I've come to that is having foreign exchange students, but they are forever thankful so there is no comparison.

    I will say that I agree with the others in their caution that you may not get any thanks for being there and you may be relegated to the "stupid" group until some future date. Sometimes supporting someone is just that, supporting them. So if you can handle what comes your way and accept that you are going to be there for him regardless of the treatment of yourself, that is a wonderful thing to take on. Perhaps thankless, but still, being a support system for someone is an important function.

    Yay for you to be at the point you are and have realized so much about where you are, where you've been and now it will help clear your path for where you go. Life is so wonderfully full of cool paths that we can choose, isn't it?
    1865 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this. It actually hits close to home, but from Mom's perspective. I think you are roughly the same age as my daughter. And we have a 14 year old at home who is my boyfriend's son, but not mine. He is borderline in trouble all the time. We are waiting for the bomb to drop that gets the law involved, and thanking each day that passes without that bomb. The stress this creates in our household is tremendous. And to be brutally honest, I resent it. My kids are grown and I'm 53 years old. I'm supposed to be past this.

    Now here's the part that hits close to home. My BF and I have been together 13 years and his son has lived with us for the past 10. When he first came to live with us, my kids were teenagers and into their own lives and their own problems. But they had a very different, much more supportive upbringing and they were very critical of the way we handled his son, which quite honestly, was pretty harsh. He's always been very immature and impulsive and has many delays. We did a lot of things wrong because we couldn't figure out how to reach him. He just never responded like a "normal" child. (I'm not saying that he's NOT normal, just different. I don't know what other word to use. I hope that makes sense.)

    Anyway, I got into numerous loud arguments with both my kids about this because I didn't feel it was their place to interfere and they didn't understand the nature of his problems. It was not a happy time. Our house was so chaotic that my daughter actually chose to move in with her father for her senior year of high school. It broke my heart at the time, but now I can see that it was the best thing for her. Fortunately, they only live a mile away from me and I saw her almost every day anyway. But at the time I saw this little boy as the cause of my family breaking up and the resentment I felt was incredible. To my credit, I never said anything to him, although I was clearly impatient and not very nice. I decided then that it would be better for both me and him if I took a hands-off approach. It was better for me to be pseudo-absent from his life than be on him all the time and risk becoming abusive.

    So what's the point of all this? Now my kids are all grown up and my daughter lives in a different state. My son lives with me while he goes to college. They have also undergone the "paradigm shift of personality" that you talk about. How does this happen? The same way it happened with you -- it's called growing up, sometimes under trial by fire. (You with your literal fire and issues with your fiance, my kids with serious illness and bad relationships) You can't help but experience those shifts in your personality. It'll happen again if you ever have children of your own.

    My kids have stopped criticizing the way we raise his son. They still don't like it, but they don't say anything to us anymore. Both help out whenever they can. My daughter has offered to take him for up to two weeks at a time during the summer. That hasn't happened yet, but maybe it will this summer. We'd like it to happen; he adores my daughter and she'll be giving him a much needed vacation from us as well as the other way around. Plus it will teach her a little bit about having a youngster in your responsibility for more than a day at a time. You think you might piss off your mother? Believe me, now that she sees you as a full, responsible adult, you won't. She'll be grateful for the help and the occasional break. For us, that help is a godsend.

    The only caution I would give you is to be careful of your expectations. I don't doubt that your step-brother will be happy for your support. But he will probably not show it. And he may not respond to it in the way you would like. But - and this is what you learn from being a parent - you can trust that he will have heard you, and that if he still gets himself into trouble, it's not because of anything you did or said. It's because he just isn't ready to accept the sense of what you've said and you can't force him. Some kids just have to learn by getting hit in the face with the consequences of their choices, and that's that. It won't mean that he's rejected you or isn't listening.

    Good luck! I'm looking forward to reading more about this new phase of your life!
    1865 days ago
    I liked this blog. I think it's going to be a fascinating adventure. just remember that teenagers are crazy, like literally their frontal lobes are not developed. If he doesn't react to you they way you wish, it's not your fault. Good job on unlocking that achievement. I think you got it pretty early in the game. ;)
    1866 days ago
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