Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hope for the future

With all of the goings on with the Obama inauguration, and the feeling of hope for our country, I have my own personal wars going on. The battle grounds are set, and the first strike is immanent.

Although I'd like to call a truce, neither side will listen. Tomorrow is the day the cease-fire ends. Kenny, my son who is working in Africa will land home at 4:00 pm. What should be a happy homecoming will, instead, be the start of the battle. While Kenny loves us and we love him, he has managed to ruffle feathers to the point that the family seems to be divided into two camps. Those that want to avoid an altercation and those that are spoiling for one. Kenny and his step father, Robert, are seem to be heading for the big show down. The rest of us are just looking for a way to hide from the fall out.

The problem is that both of them want to demand the loyalty of the rest of us. But choosing sides is a ridiculous notion. I love them both, and I have forgiven them both for some of the most egregious behavior imaginable. To the point that they expect my forgiveness and take it for granted.

Yet they both parade around all puffed up with self-righteous indignation, ready to lash out at any one that does not agree with them.

In a way, I would be glad for them to thrown down and get it over with. And for some that would be a resolution. Get all the resentments out in the open and then clear the air once and for all. But I don't see that happening with them. They are both very prideful and stubborn, and just as inclined to throw fists as they are to throw words.

Robert has sacrificed for his country and is family, and through his life has suffered as no one should have ever had to suffer. He is a good and loving and reasonable person... until he gets angry. He is ultra sensitive, due to many factors, not the least of all is his own guilty conscience. He is intolerant of the flaws of others, and is not willing to extend the forgiveness that he expects from others. Kenny has said some very hurtful things about him, and those things have cut him to the bone.

Kenny loves his family and would do anything for us. He is also is young, brazen and inexperienced in the struggles that most people have already faced at his age, and doesn't understand or tolerate the frailties of others. Add to that the pent up resentment from many years of being raised by a bi-polar step father, who while willingly sacrificed his own personal freedom and desires to help raise and provide for my sons all they could need or want and stood up for them against all comers, was prone to intermittent psychotic behavior brought on by his condition and the many prescribed cures that were worse than the disease.

Kenny sees his step father as lazy and weak because he hasn't held a job for many years, and doesn't hold up his end of the "House Husband" by consistently keeping the house clean, and fixing dinner myself and my daughter.

Robert finds it unbearably insulting to be judged so harshly by the child he loves and help raise.

And me. I can see both sides. I understand their feelings, and can see what is missing from their viewpoints. For Kenny, it's understanding that bi-polar is a real condition that his Dad cannot control by sheer will power.

For Robert, it's recognizing his son's pain, frustration and distrust as the natural consequences of being the son of a bi-polar.

To resolve their differences they need to find some common ground and then build from there. Common ground, like that they love each other and want the best for the family as a whole.

And what if they don't? Where does that leave us as a family? Where does that leave my relationship with the both of them?

Do I have the right to peace in the family? Do I have the right not to listen to constant litanies of criticism and anger against each other? Do I have the right not constantly worry about them blowing up? Do I have a right not to fear losing either one of them? Do I have the right not to see my family in pain, and to be in pain myself?

Am I really helpless here? Or can I put my foot down and say "Enough!"

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