Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No Respect!

My family needs prayer.

They just don't respect marriage.

Sure, they say they do.

They even believe that they do.

But they don't.

I wonder if they even truly understand what marriage is.

Now, I don't mean this to be a personal attack on any of them. I really don't even think that it's entirely their fault. Pretty much they've grown up in a family, who has grown up in a society that does not value real, honest, till-death-do-us-part-and-nothing-can-separate-us-before

Too many stories to tell, but tonight I'm venting on the most recent one that's causing me horror.

First, let me introduce you to my loved ones:

Donna ~ My oldest aunt. Married twice, but has been single for most of my 40 years and has never bothered to divorce either one of her husbands. Her reason for never divorcing even though she's didn't grow old with either, is that when each of them died, she planned to collect whatever spousal benefits she could. Didn't work, but more on that in a minute.

Technically, she hasn't been completely single for all of my life though, there have been a few live in boyfriends through the years. Oh, and for a brief minute, she reunited with spouse #2, but seeing as he was a lifelong convict, that didn't last long and, soon enough, he was back in prison. He was finally, for the last time, released about 8 years ago, but ended up dying from AIDS about 4 years ago (they weren't together at all during that time. She didn't even attend his funeral). And as for those spousal benefits, well, let's just say he didn't rack up a whole lot of dough behind bars. Nevertheless, they had a child together, my cousin Wes (now 46), but she was a polygamist (or is it bigamist?) for nothing.

Though I love Donna (she's my favorite aunt), she's been a drug addict for years. Currently, she's in a rest home after being hospitalized for a variety of ailments over the last few years. She never quite recovers from her hospital stints, because she goes home and, though she's on an oxygen tank and close to 70 years old, she still gets high, which greatly impacts her health and lands her back in the hospital. There just doesn't seem to be any real recuperation when she goes home, so her social worker and doctors have sent her to a rest home to "rest" indefinitely. Doesn't look good for Auntie Donna and whenever I go visit her, I realize each time could be the last time I ever see her alive.

LaVerne ~ My aunt right under Donna. Married a rather odd man and divorced him after having one child (Michael, my favorite cousin, now 34, but I don't have much of a relationship with him anymore since he is a paranoid schizophrenic and bipolar. I still love him and I miss the "real" him dearly. He lives about 5 minutes away, but it feels like he's dead. There's nothing left of the old Michael at all. He's a very scary person now.). I think my aunt and Michael's father were divorced before he even entered kindergarten. Not an unusual plight in my family. All of our parents were divorced before that stage. Sad, but true.

LaVerne has managed to do pretty well for herself career wise, though. She's worked hard all of her life, owns several pieces of real estate and has prepared a nice little retirement for herself...if she ever retires. At 65, she still works full time and is in the process of opening a new business.

Coral ~ My mom. Married twice, divorced twice and one daughter from each marriage (myself and my sister, Lynne, 29). More on Coral later, but since she's not too relevant to tonight's issue, that's all I'll say for now.

More family to expound on.

Donna's son, Wes, is a drug addict. Like mother (and father), like son. Crack caught hold of Wes in the 80's and, despite being in the military (twice...Army AND Marines) and several attempts at rehab (including military rehab), he's still going at it. At 46 years old, he's been married technically 3 times, although the first 2 times were to the same woman. They divorced each other twice and now he is married to another woman, Macy, who also has a drug problem. I really like Macy, though no one else in my family is wild about her. She and I have developed a relationship though where we read scriptures together, pray together and that sort of thing. She really loves Yahushua (whom the world calls Jesus), but is battling something terrible with drugs and her marriage (the latter being the subject of tonight's post).

Back to Wes for a minute. He's also a dog. Has always been one. This is not a judgment, it's the truth. He could do better, has lots of potential, but always behaves in the most scandalous ways. I've known him for 40 years, so just trust me on this one. The only one that can change him is Yahushua. I pray daily that He does. For right now though, I have to call a spade is a spade.

Drugs aren't totally to blame, however. Even before the drugs, Wes was known for backstabbing, lying, cheating, using people (especially women and family), has stolen from family, freeloaded off of them, yada, yada, yada. Crack didn't create the ugly in him, but it hasn't helped either. Oh, and he's a very mean drunk! When he takes a break from crack, he drinks and smokes a lot of weed. While drunk 2 years ago, he cussed my sister and my mother out, was physically intimidating and made some pretty scary threats. He and my mom didn't speak for about a year until he apologized and she forgave him (that's what family's for, right? Don't know if I could've done it so easily, but then again I need lots of prayer in that area, so I commend my mom for allowing him to make peace and letting him back into her space again).

Not quite done with Wes yet, though...

He's also very arrogant. He is the kind of addict that doesn't get high for 2 weeks and swears he's free forever. He also then begins to degrade all of the other addicts he gets high with, including his mother and his wife. Wes does this to make himself feel and appear superior to them. Instead of having compassion, he goes around to other family members and talks about them something terrible often, I believe, in an attempt to weasel his way into a place to stay or a little pity money until he can get on his feet. The rest of the family, over the years, has gotten hip to this strategy...except for my Auntie LaVerne who, I believe, has always secretly wished he were her son and has ALWAYS had a soft spot for him no matter how many times he's driven a knife right through the middle of it. It never fails, however, that after dragging their names through the mud, Wes is right back at it getting high with his mom, his wife and all of their crack buddies all over again. Messy. Very messy!

Just to not give a totally bad picture of Wes (and in the interest of fairness/balance), let me point out a few of his good qualities. Wes is very talented. He can fix anything. Drive anything. Sing. Dance. Has an awesome speaking voice (he really would do well in radio and/or voice overs) and he is a very loving individual at times. There's rarely a time when I speak to him (which isn't too often, but still...) when he doesn't end the conversation with, "I love you". Wes, at times, will really work hard to please people, he's funny, protective, hardworking (sometimes) and often very patient with the crazy women in our family. He turns into problem child when he's high, when he's trying to get high or when his pockets are full, but other than that he's easy to be around. In his defense, Wes hasn't had an easy life. Raised by an overbearing, drug addicted, trash talking mother and a father that was in and out of prison his whole life didn't do a whole lot in teaching him how to be a decent man. He's also been babied a lot by my late grandma and my Auntie LaVerne. Coddling someone because you feel sorry for him does nothing to help him become a man and take responsibility for himself and his actions.

(Deep breath)

Okay, now to tonight's rant.

I already told you that my family doesn't like Wes' wife, Macy. My mom (Coral) is actually better with her now, but it took a long time for her to get there. The primary reason is because she felt like Wes used to force Macy on her. In the beginning of their marriage, whenever any of us would call Wes, he'd put Macy on the phone to talk even when the other person clearly didn't want to talk to Macy (nor she us, lol). He also came to my mom's house one holiday, had dinner with the family, went out for an errand and didn't come back for several days. He left Macy there (and no one really knew her then, other than she was his new crack addicted wife) while he was out (we assume) with another woman. It was a very tense time. My mom and I have discussed Macy, however, and several months ago my mom realized she really didn't have a reason to dislike Macy, she just was resisting Macy being "forced" on her and so she has made more of an effort with her. I'm proud of her for that and Macy tells me that my mom and her are okay these days.

Ditto for my sister. They're all just so-so on her now, without fully embracing her as family though.

Auntie LaVerne, on the other hand hates Macy. Hate is a strong word, I know. She hates Macy. Her reason? According to her, Macy isn't "good enough" for Wes! "Ummm, Auntie, Wes is a lying crackhead that has stolen and totaled your car, stolen money from you, involved your son (when he was sane) in all sorts of "grey" activities and, since your son has been ill, has literally fought him in front of your own house after a family funeral (Okay, Michael technically started the fight with Wes, but he had enough reason based on things Wes had done to him over the years). I've tried to help her to see that Macy, and women like her, are of the pond Wes swims in and that water seeks its own level, but she loves Wes so much, until she deliberately ignores reality of the life he's carved out for himself and continues to hate Macy. She also says she dislikes her because Macy has missing teeth and isn't what she deems as pretty. Stupid and superficial if you ask me. She's never even gotten to know the woman and Macy has done NOTHING to her, but she just hates her looks. To me, Macy isn't bad looking, but that's all besides the very petty point.

So, my aunt does everything she can to reach out to Wes while ostracizing Macy. When Wes and Macy were homeless for a while, she allowed Wes to stay in one of her vacant apartments, but Macy wasn't allowed to step foot on the property, even for a visit. When she invites Wes to her home to do work (he's very handy around the house and her son, in his illness, refuses to lift a finger), Macy can't come. Because of this, and the family's initial treatment of Macy, she doesn't typically come to family events much anymore regardless of at whose house they're held. Sad. Very, very sad. They are husband and wife, people...where is the respect?!

Fast forwarding because I know I'm taking forever here, lol.

Auntie LaVerne and my mom got together a couple of months ago and bought Wes a car. He's a grown man, with a career (he's a truck driver when he works) and is an able bodied handy man, mechanic, basically anything work involving his hands, he can do...but these two get together and bought him a car like he's a paraplegic (a drug-free one at that). Of course, during this time, he's doing the routine of "I'm off drugs and everyone, including my wife, who I used to get high with, sucks. They're so beneath me and aren't you proud of me for distancing myself from them?" They fall for it, let him weasel his way back into their lives (he's been doing work for both of them on their properties) and buy this scamster a car. It's their money, I keep my mouth shut, but I'm still like, "Wow, no they didn't". Between you, me and the lamppost, I only think my mom pitched in because LaVerne was. They are highly competitive with each other like that. And, both of them love their sister, Donna, dearly and since she's in a rest home and pretty much disabled, they've picked up where she left off and, seemingly, have decided to baby this 46 year old married man, who doesn't have any children to provide for and who is perfectly capable of working (and making good money driving trucks, or fixing them, or whatever...basically, he's too darn old for them to be buying him a car!).

Tonight, Macy and I are on the phone talking and, as usual, she's got the blues because Michael routinely serves them to her. She tells me that, since he's gotten the car she's been in it a grand total of 3 or 4 times, still has to bum rides or catch the bus to get around town, he leaves her regularly home alone for days at a time (tonight he's "staying" at one of my aunt's vacant properties) and, basically, is being a total jerk to her. He's not even paying the bills at home, though she took a peek at his bank statement and, she didn't say how much he'd saved, but she was deeply hurt that she's been having to borrow money to eat and keep the lights on (because he tells her he has no money when she asks and, yep, folks, she has to "ask" her husband for money for food to eat because she's spending all of her money to keep the bills paid). All of this and, according to her, he's amassed a nice little sum in his bank account (which also means he's really been off of the drugs lately. On a side note, I truly do pray he can make this permanent! I've seen him do it before though, so not to be negative or anything, but I'm not totally convinced he's done just yet).

She also tells me that my Aunt LaVerne has promised him her vintage Mercedes and one of her houses when she dies. Unbelievable! Macy suggested to me that the will was already drafted. Someone please tell me why you would do that to a drug addict? Without demanding he seek treatment? Do you know what he's going to do with a $500,000.00 house and a Mercedes? Not a wise choice. That's just enough for him to kill himself with. (shaking my head just thinking about it) Oh, and it bears mentioning that the house she's giving him is currently occupied by another cousin who is a single mother with 5 kids still living at home. What's going to happen to them if he loses the house or kicks them out (which I wouldn't dare put past him)?

I know that sounds negative, but sometimes you have to look reality square in the face and just deal with it.

Now, this weekend is our family reunion down South. Auntie LaVerne is paying for Wes' plane ticket, his hotel room and his meals. Of course, Wes is leaving Macy at home. Not that she wants to go, but I just think it's extremely foul to interfere in a marriage like that. I say "interfere", because I believe this is what my aunt's goal is. I love her, but I believe this is the truth. I think she purposely gives him a place to stay (even though he and Macy have an apartment) and keeps a little money in his pocket from odd jobs she hires him for, just to control him and keep him away from Macy (or at least to keep strife between them). We've talked about this and I've told her it's not right for her to allow him shelter, but not allow his wife (this is before they had their apartment, when they were homeless). I mean, after all, before Wes even met Macy, he'd stolen from my aunt and had done a whole lot to take advantage of her, but she continues to forgive him (and she should, within reason). Macy, on the other hand, has never been anything but respectful to her. But because my aunt doesn't like Macy's looks or lifestyle, which she shares with my cousin, she refuses to respect her or their marriage.

If a will actually does exist, I firmly believe she's put a stipulation that as long as he's not with Macy, he can have what she's willed to him. Not putting 2 + 2 together, Macy doesn't realize that this is why Wes is so distant, doesn't come home (stays at my aunt's vacant apartment for days at a time, comes home for a day and then is out again for another stretch), doesn't allow her to drive the car, or even ride in it, doesn't give her any money for household expenses, etc. She thinks he's just being cold on his own, which he's quite capable of, but this time I know there's more to it. Auntie LaVerne is actually giving him paid incentive to behave in these ways! Though she knows my aunt dislikes her (he routinely and with great, cruel pleasure tells her everything my family says about her...adding to her poor self image), she has no idea why or how deep it goes. And this is the woman, problems and all, who has stuck by him through some very difficult times when even his family WASN'T there for him (during one of his periods of burnt bridges). Now, though, he's in my Aunt's and my mom's good graces and, suddenly, his wife is dirt.

So, I continue to pray with Macy and give her scriptures for encouragement and advise her on continuing to strive to live holy and true to her marriage vows (i.e. don't cheat), but this really pisses me off. I mean, it really hurts me that my family can have so little respect for marriage. From Wes on down, how dare them treat her so callously? I know she has issues (who among us doesn't?), but her issues are no worse than my Aunt Donna's or Wes' as far as the drugs are concerned. We embrace them, despite their struggles and Macy has no one (her parents are dead). When she married into our family, she inherited all of us too! She is a full-fledged member and they need to cut this bull of treating her like she's an outsider, out. When they married, the two became one!!! Anything the family gives to or does for Wes should be done for Wes and Macy, not just him and it's wrong to encourage him to act in this way. Yes, he's ultimately responsible, but no one taught him otherwise, so he truly is ignorant. And my family, at least my aunt anyway, is gladly contributing to his ignorance.

That just really peeves me to no end!

Though I don't plan to approach him on the subject this weekend at the reunion, if Wes says anything to me about Macy (which he undoubtedly will), I do plan to remind him what the bible says about not dealing treacherously with your wife (Malachi 2:15b). Or about how a man's prayers are hindered if he doesn't properly honor his wife (1 Peter 3:7). And I'll definitely tell him, again, how he is to be the head and love her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:23-25). And for my aunt...well, I've told her before, but I think she needs to hear again Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:9, Matthew 19:6 and Ephesians 5:31. They are one flesh, Auntie, and what He has joined together, let no man (or meddling auntie) separate!!!

I tell you, some people have NO respect!

Thus, here ends my rant, but please, PLEASE pray for my family and pray that people, in general, begin to value marriage according to its original intent (oneness, family and community) and cut the crap on thinking it's just a piece of paper. It's a covenant, holy and honorable before Yahweh. I pray we all learn to honor and respect it to its fullest someday!

Love to one and all,


P.S. Okay, it's the next day and, upon rereading, I shouldn't refer to Wes as a crackhead. I was upset, but he is a child of the Most High and, though the things I said about his behavior and his addiction are true, I don't like that label of "crackhead". He is a human being and just because I'm angry, I can't reduce him to anything other. I'm not better than he is and it was wrong for me to call him that, particular, name. Rather than edit it out, it was how I genuinely felt at the time, but I do want to apologize now.