|Etienne Wenger Attachment Brain Science Diets Anxiety Symposium 2012 Linda Bacon David Schnarch Couples Therapy Mind/Body Mindfulness Great Attachment Debate Clinical Mastery Attachment Theory Trauma Narcissistic Clients CE Comments Ethics Challenging Cases Future of Psychotherapy William Doherty Alan Sroufe The Future of Psychotherapy Couples Men in Therapy Mary Jo Barrett Gender Issues Wendy Behary Clinical Excellence Community of Excellence|
|Family Matters - Page 2|
A few years after the incident with my sister, I had another opportunity to experience my father in action. This time, I myself was the focus of the incident. My friends and I would often collect bottles to take to the corner candy store to exchange for sweets. One day while in the store, I got into a scrape with the big 20-something Marine who worked behind the counter. It ended when he hit me across the face with a wet dish rag. This really set me off. I looked behind me and noticed the magazines laid out all neat and orderly on the shelves. In a fit of rage, I started tossing them around the store. The Marine came out from behind the counter, grabbed me, and bodily threw me out. I felt humiliated, and ran home and told my father. He could see I was upset, and led me back to the candy store.
When we arrived, he motioned to me to stay just outside, where I could observe what was happening. He went behind the counter, and with one hand forced the Marine's hands behind his body. With his other hand, he grabbed the malted-milk machine and started hitting the Marine with it on the head. Soon, they were whirling around the store, tables overturning and customers fleeing. My father needed to keep the Marine's hands restrained or it would have been lights-out for him. Finally, he said something, and they both calmed down. In less than a minute it was all over. My father walked onto the street, still fuming, took a few steps toward me, and slapped me hard across the face. Saying, "I could have gotten arrested for what I just did," he let me know that there was a price to pay for starting fights. We walked home in silence with me weeping. Once family honor and loyalty had been upheld, he got down to the business of dispensing tough justice to me.
I see my father's actions that day as reflecting his protectiveness and support. He placed his family's protection first, and was vigilant in defending his kin from anyone who threatened them. The message he sent, as in the incident involving my sister, was that love and loyalty at times required physical aggression. He grew up understanding that tough actions are sometimes needed to stand up for what's right and "even the score"—that, at times, you can maintain your integrity only by taking on the forces that oppress, humiliate, and diminish you. These ideas served him well in his job with a labor union, when, with equal passion, he'd encourage fellow workers to assert their rights and get their just deserts in the face of unfair labor practices. For him, standing up for your beliefs through passionate speech, and even using physical violence against those who might threaten your family, weren't opposites, so much as actions on a single continuum.
These are valuable lessons, which, though lost on me as a boy, are now more clearly understood. The fortunate souls who had my father's loyalty and love—close friends and family—felt protected, their "backs covered"; they experienced his most generous and caring side. Those who didn't got his wrath. Some of us, my sister and I included, got the former most of the time and, on rare occasions, the latter. Though my father's behavior may differ from what we now consider effective parenting, it was a natural outcome of his culture and time. It forged strong and loving bonds between us.