Seeing Both Extremes

There’s a thought that’s been circulating through my mind for months now: I wonder if I was shaped by the fact I’ve seen the best and the worst of human beings…

When I first put into foster care, my foster parents were friends with another couple named Lana and Larry, whom I met at the same time. 5 years later, Lana and Larry would also become my foster parents for a short time. This couple is still part of my life to this day. In all my life, I’ve never met people more patient, wise, loyal, and above all, loving, than these two. They’ve always been around, they’ve always been available when I need their guidance, but I unfortunately was never able to call them my parents (more on that later). Lana in particular was raised by a mother who had all her same traits but to an even greater extent. When Lana’s mother died, after having lived a long, fulfilling, happy life, during her memorial, Lana talked about the values both her parents raised her to have. Being loving to all those around you, caring for your family most of all, staying optimistic, trying to make the world a better place than when you came into it, etc., etc., etc. That’s when it hit me: Now I know where it came from… I finally understood how seemingly every generation of Lana’s family became the epitome of what any family would want to be: Inseparable, never in conflict, supportive, wise, virtuous…

And I’ve known this family since I was 2 years old.

Then, there’s the family I was born into. My flesh and blood. I won’t be discussing any grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins here, because they were all decent people as far as I could tell. No, who I’ll be discussing here is my parents and siblings. The most immediate of my relatives…

My father never wanted anything to do with his children. I don’t know how many kids he ended up conceiving – he probably doesn’t even know. So, I didn’t meet my father until I was 18, and it wasn’t long after that that I decided I was glad to have never known him before. My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic (or so we believe; she’s never been officially diagnosed with anything). Even if she was mentally stable, the fact remains that she had 7 kids, with various men, and directly caused her kids to start life with instability. She dumped her first child with her parents, having no interest in raising him, and then with her next 4 kids she suddenly decided to try … only to keep us in a filthy home, never having enough food in the house, leaving us alone overnight sometimes (the oldest any of us were was 10), and not to mention keeping our fathers completely out of our lives (my father didn’t want to be around, but I know at least one other of our fathers wanted to be around).

Neither of my parents ever changed. After the state removed us from our mother’s “care,” she was given a chance to improve herself to get her kids back, but after less than 3 years, she chose not to bother anymore. Our brother Chris was first accused of sexual assault, of an even younger child, when he was 11 years old. He proceeded to go in and out of prison in all the years since for nearly every major crime you can think of … including raping and murdering children. I don’t know if he’s yet been convicted, but I do know that prosecutors are at least currently trying to seek the death penalty for him. My oldest brother, the one our mother dumped on to her parents, I’ve never met but have communicated with and he seems to be quite the emotional mess. He left the US and doesn’t plan on returning. I never quite learned why. And as for the brother and sister I grew up with most, they always stuck together, but went absolutely nowhere with their lives. Those two were never criminals, but they do love themselves some conflict. Growing up, they picked fights with me just for the pleasure, and even after we all became adults, the urge to at least pick verbal fights with me never stopped, and I eventually told them to fuck off because I was beyond sick of their instigating.

My mother had twin girls less than 2 years after we were put in foster care, and I never got to meet them. I’m still not even sure of what their names are. All I know is when they were born. I don’t know anything else about them.

So, on one hand you have a wonderful family that I’ve always been able to have in my life, and on the other hand is the “family” I am related to and unfortunately always will be. One family is wise, devoted, selfless, and happy. The other family has felons, psychos, and people literally addicted to conflict.

Where does my disgust for the filth in the world, and my utter adoration for the good and beautiful in the world come from? It comes from the fact I’ve seen the extremes of both. True, I didn’t experience every single bad thing that could have possibly happened, but nor can anyone.

I feel so strongly about, well, everything I believe, because all my life I’ve been surrounded and influenced by the greatest and the worst of people. I’ve seen how great people can be. I’ve also seen what monsters people can be. I’ve seen the whole spectrum. I recognize tiny good deeds that people overlook, and I recognize the form evil can take apart from the more obvious things.

You can improve someone’s life by simply helping them stand after a fall. You can also ruin someone’s life by making them feel like they don’t matter. There’s a whole spectrum here, and I’ve seen it all. (Or, most, anyway.)

I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but I can’t help but notice that my entire life seems to revolve around this very concept. The concept of two-or-more different (or opposite) things coming together. My very ethnicity is mixed between white, Asian, and African. My political views are also a mixture of agreements with left-wing and right-wing ideologies. I’m a large guy with an athletic and muscular build, but I’ve always preferred to use my mind over my body. Also despite being a big guy who’s stronger and can outrun almost everyone he knows, I’ve always wanted to raise a daughter instead of typical manly things like playing sports or getting laid or being rich. I grew up with almost equal exposure to the best and worst kinds of people. I grew up religious and took my faith seriously, but I eventually became an atheist. Seriously, so many things about me are a hybridization, are about different worlds coming together, I’m thankful I wasn’t born with both sets of genitals. I’m glad mother nature had at least some restraint there.

For all I know, maybe it is my destiny to be and to understand all the different things humans can be and do.