Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Personal Responsibility

On another blog, I am chronicling the adventures of my ne'er-do-well foster brother who is currently waiting for a trial in Brazil for drug smuggling. Seems 10 pounds of cocaine fell in his bag.

Long story short, he was desperate for money due to some very poor decisions involving working while claiming to ICBC that he was disabled and physically incapable. He would post sob stories to Craigslist, claiming to be the father of 2 young children (he doesn't have any) in order to get items that he would turn around and sell. He sold his pain pills - percocet, oxycontin - off the Internet. I'm guessing that last was what led him to 10 lbs of white powder in the bottom of his duffel.

Last August, my mother got a call from D's MIL. Brazil. Jail. It was news to us, since he had no money and had not bothered to tell us "Oh, by the way, I'm going on an all-expenses-paid trip to Peru, Brazil and Amsterdam with money I got from an undefined source for no particular reason." His story: A friend of a friend offered him and his wife a honeymoon and then he was "threatened by bad men" when he was in Peru and "had" to take the drugs to Brazil. Ah huh. Not buying that one. When you're offered a legitimate trip, you tell your friends and family. He hadn't told us anything.

Over the ensuing months, his letters got more absurd and offensive. He wanted his cell phone suspended, NOT cancelled because "he had a good plan". He had bills that needed paying. He needed money for stuff in prison. I had fucked him over by not rushing to his storage locker (2 years behind in rent) and selling his stuff (when I have a job I'd like to keep and live across a large body of water).

In a letter, he told me, "I made one mistake. Don't judge me until you know the facts." No, he had made dozens of mistakes. Hundreds. Thousands. And they started with the assumption that he "deserved" the good life. Now, D thinks that we should forgive him just because he said, "I'm sorry".

And this is where I said, "No."

I've been told that I'm too angry, too judgemental, too emotional... but when do I get to say, "Look you piece of shit; you have betrayed us, you have jeopardized us, you have lied to us, you have caused a huge drain in our finances and you think that I am not entitled to judge you? If you don't want to be judged by the people who are paying for you to have a decent existence, then feel free not to accept their money."

I don't think that people "deserve" a second chance. I think they are entitled to ask for one, but they are not entitled to receive it. No one is. Especially if they refuse to take personal responsibility for their actions.

There are way too many movies where a resource-sucking leech is presented as comic relief or as a ha-ha-every-family-has-one. You know why every family has one? Because they don't erect boundaries and then verbally, physically or emotionally kick the shit out of Relative Leech if they try to breach them. This is not out of what I think is not misguided family loyalty, but the fear of what other people will say.

I've not had anyone saying that I'm not "loyal" enough; quite the opposite, in fact. I have had people say, "Well he's not even related to you!", which I don't think is the point. Up until now, we considered him family, with all the bonds that entailed - a genetic link does not have to be present to make a family. No, what makes me less and less eager to support him is his attitude. We treated him like family and he treated us like a credit card that he could draw on when he needed extra money.

Unfortunately, I am a hypocrite enough to donate money to support him or, rather, my mother's ill-advised spending on him.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen this type of thing happen over and over again in my own extended family, though never with such a spectacularly dramatic cresendo of "stranger than fiction" histronics. Some people seem to think that the world "owes" them a living (or better than just a living). The odd thing with D's case, I think, is that it's not like your mom supported his "it's not my fault" attitude; whereas in the case that is ongoing in my family it's very much a case of parents who've never made their kids respsonible for anything and continue to bail them out of situations well into their 40s.

    I'm a firm believer in kids being held accountable for their own actions as suitable for their age or cognitive level... how else does anyone expect them to become functional adults? At least give them a chance.. I just wish that D could have gleaned that from the years that he spent with your family.