My Father's Shoes

Shared by Anonymous

It's hard to come from a family that wants to devour each other. In the animal kingdom, it is an acceptable practice: a form of natural selection to thin out the herd. In my family, it was done for sport. I grew up watching my family bicker, argue, and back-stab each other. From an early age I watched them betray and beat one another. My earliest memories are of my father and my uncles getting drunk and beating one another. I grew up always hearing about my family’s legendary temper, that we were predisposed to violence and addiction. My family always pretended that we were good people, but that we could never catch a break because of temper and the curse that it brought.

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Family Curse

I went to college and studied criminal justice, and by every theory in the book I should be in jail. My family history and past behavior follows every theory to a tee: a family of violence, addiction, and broken relationships—that's the past I come from. Even today I feel my upbringing shroud me. What I learned as a child sometimes leaks into my relationships, and they may suffer. I never really learned how to resolve issues without violence or becoming angry and lashing out. It’s hard to overcome how you were raised. I was raised to be proud of our family’s temper; that pride made it hard to take advantage of us. As a child, I saw rampant drug use and alcoholism. Our family had the mentality that it was okay: we had a curse, and it wasn’t our fault.

I learned about the curse early on in my life—from alcoholic uncles and my drug-addicted father. I had an older brother that really looked up to my uncles and wanted to be just like them. Unfortunately, he really bought in to the family curse and used it to justify every time he did poorly in school or was caught with drugs. It started small, but eventually the curse blossomed. He has become a career criminal. He is in jail now, Lord knows for how long. Last time I checked he was looking at a minimum of six years. I feel terrible, because he has a young son, and I fear that he may also follow in his father’s footsteps and waste all the potential he has. I have not really spoken to my brother in seven years. I saw where he was going and decided that his negative influence was not what I needed. I didn't need to hear about a family curse every time something didn't go right. I believed that if you put enough effort and time into something, the end result would reflect you as a person—not something predisposed because of your family.

Family Sabotage

When I said that my family was carnivorous, you may have scoffed. Everyone has a family that fights and doesn't get along sometimes. My family was unhealthy not just because we didn't get along, but because and would always actively try to sabotage one another. When we didn't get our way, we would resort to violence and attack one another. A memory comes to mind from when I was 8. As far back as I could remember my uncles had always lived with my parents. Both these uncles were alcoholics and had been to prison. One had been in prison for 3 years because he robbed an elderly woman and took $0.63 from her. Having all those brothers together with their raging tempers and a family curse was a recipe for disaster. One day, my mom took my brother and me away to a friend’s house. She didn't give us a reason, just told us to get in the car and go. I didn't understand why, but I was glad all the same because I was tired of the arguing between my dad and his brothers. We were gone all day, and when we returned the house was in shambles. There had been a fight. My dad and uncle had beaten their brother with a bat and pushed him down the stairs. They injured him bad enough that he needed to go to the hospital, but he chose not to go, and instead kept quiet about it. We may treat each other like garbage, but what happens in the family stays in the family.

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Family Freedom

I don't remember when I decided I was going to do better—to be better than the family I had known. I like to think that decision was the result of a little willpower on my part, and the brief, positive glimpses I got of my mother’s family. They were not saints by any means, but they were successful, loving, and had healthy relationships with each other. They were always ready to help, and didn't carry some secret calculator to whip out at an opportune moment to dredge up old debts. After my mother died when I was young, it was her family that came to my aid, not my father’s. I was in a terrible place after her death, and they helped lift me to what I am now. Without them, I would probably be in jail or out on the streets somewhere. 

My childhood was rife with conflict and bad influences. I was not perfect, and back then it would have been easy for me to give in and become what my family was. But there was a part of me that never gave up. I pushed through. I was never a scholar, but I did manage to graduate from high school, and even go to college. I've always had drugs and alcohol pushed I my face—and I'm not going to lie, I have tried them. But I was always able to pull myself away, and never get lost in them or use them to bury my emotions. I grew, and while others were out partying, I worked and built a better future for myself. I grew up fast and did what I had to do. I was forced to grow up because of my family. It would not do well to be weak and vulnerable in a family that eats one another.

I zigged when my family zagged. I saw what their lives lead to, and wanted something better for myself. I do not know why I moved on and kept myself out of trouble, while my brother bought in and found himself a nice concrete suite. If I had to believe anything, it's because I learned from my family’s mistakes and watched as those decisions ruined their lives. My father, a cocaine addict, died when he was fifty years old. He was alone and I had not spoken to him in the ten years before his death; he cut all ties with me after my parents divorced. I did not have the best role models as a child, but I believed in myself and chose myself as my own role model. You don't have to become what your family is, you can strike out on your own and be free from their curse.

 
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