Looking back to my own relationships, and those of relationships of friends and family for which I have an intimate knowledge of their particular dynamics, I now realize that I have a much clearer understanding of why people ended up doing the things they did; why they took certain tracks in life.
When I was a young man in my 20's, I self-identified as a socially-libertine conservative Republican - i.e. basically a small government, anti-liberal - Rush Limbaugh listening - FOXNews watching - Republican voting - pot smoker. I always supported the Libertarian Party platform and candidates...but I used to buy into the lie that I HAD to vote Republican to fight the liberal - socialist Democrats. (8 years of the Dubya-led GOP and his "compassionate conservatism" certainly cured me of that particular notion.)
Nevertheless, one of the ideas I used to accept without reservation was the idea that the two parent family was inviolable - that screwed up people only came from broken households with absentee parental guidance or abusive step-parents...which is of course the right-wing view as promoted by the likes of Rush and Bill O'Reilly et al. So I was always puzzled whenever I thought about a particular family that I knew of. The Father was a retired military man, the mother, an Asian he married while deployed overseas. They married, and moved to Hawaii, and had two children, a girl and a boy. They were both in my peer group and we all hung out amongst the same clique in High School and the first half of my 20's.
The girl was known as 'easy.' Not exactly considered a slut...but she was the penultimate serial monogamy-polyandrist. She dated almost every single guy amongst our social peer group. While she wouldn't have one night stands or cheat on a current boyfriend, it was widely known that all you had to do was ask her out and take her on a single date and you would be getting some until either she broke up with you or you broke it off with her. In a 10 year period (from 15-25 I lost contact with them after that - but eventually connected with her again through facebook.), I would say she "dated" probably 35+ guys. I would say it's not too outrageous to guess the pattern continued in the last decade since I last saw her. The reason why I write about her story is because she dated 3 of my closest friends for extended periods of time (3-6 months...for her, that was extensive.) I saw first hand the relationship arc she went through with each of my friends. Of course I had no understanding at all about the dynamics that played out at the time.
Her younger brother was a definite wild-child, who constantly got into trouble, and eventually dropped out of school. He and I used to hang out occasionally, and would often deal with each other in terms of acquiring our favored smokable herbs. I've spent a bit of time at their house just hanging out with the both of them and I used to wonder how both he and his sister turned out so wild when they had such a stern, disciplinarian-type drill Seargent type of a Father. I often sat there while he lectured one or both of them.
According to my "right-wing" belief system at the time, I thought these kids were some kind of weird anomaly. Two kids from an intact family home, both living wild and self-destructive (but-oh-so-fun) lifestyles.
Now, I do believe I know exactly why they turned out the way they did (and why I too got into so much trouble in my youth).
I now understand that the simple existence of a two parent household, while important, is certainly not the be all-end all of raising children to have successful families of their own and to becoming thoughtful, contributing members of society.
See, I now know that their can be worse situations than single mother households.
Just because parents are not divorced, doesn't really mean that a home can't be broken. Funny, how I used to think to myself about how these two were so screwed up...but I never made the association with my own situation, and why I too embraced a self-destructive lifestyle in my youth.
Looking back with "red-pill" induced clarity, I now understand exactly why these two kids took a path of dysfunction (as I similarly did). Their strict, harsh, disciplinarian father had zero authority in his home. And while the Father would get angry and go into tirades and try to mete out discipline for his children...their mother always intervened, interjected and undermined any sort of authority he tried to assert.
If he grounded them, she would give them permission to go out the minute he left the house.
If he tried to take away their things, she'd give it back to them.
If he cut off their allowance, she'd just give them the money when he wasn't looking.
She spoiled them rotten...and he knew it. And he never stood up to his wife's constant campaign to render his authority meaningless. She wore the proverbial pants.
He'd yell at them, and she'd jump right in and defend them, no matter what.
When the school called because the boy skipped school three days in a row, the father would start to yell at him, and his mother would immediately get in between them defend her son from the Father's wrath. Same thing when he got arrested for possession of cocaine and acid. When he got arrested for reckless endangerment for his crazy driving. No matter what, these kids had no consequences for their behavior...because their mother enabled them and the Father never stood up to her and called her on it. The mother had utter contempt for the Father. I now see this kind of home environment can be just as bad -- if not worse -- for children as a bitter divorce or abandoned by a deadbeat. It was much the same story I went through myself.
Gaining an understanding of this dynamic that they grew up in, I also now realize why the sister was such a serial monogamist - the very minute her boyfriends started "beta-izing," she'd lose all attraction for him, and either dump them, or begin to act so bitchy and aloof, he'd dump her. In essence, every new guy she began dating, was a potential male figure of authority that on a visceral, instinctual level, she needed to respect. As soon as she couldn't respect them anymore, it was over. She was essentially rejecting any male that became contemptible...unconsciously, she just couldn't bear to see herself fall into the same relationship dynamic as her parents.
Now, of course, thanks to facebook, I see that she's a single-mother career woman, turned cougar.
Her brother ended up in jail.
My own home life was a bit different, since religion played a prominent role in my own upbringing...but my mother's contempt for my Beta-provider Father certainly affected myself as well.
I don't think my Mother ever realized how destructive she was to my sibling's and my own personal development. The bitter contempt she expressed for my Father whenever he wasn't around. "YOUR FATHER" spit out in disgust was the daily epithet we heard from her as she complained about him on a regular basis. He could never do anything right. Ever. Oh, he sure tried his hardest. But my Father's church-based, white-night chivalry ideals combined with a supplicating, "what can I do to make you happy" demeanor drove my Mother's innate hypergamous instincts haywire.
The funny thing is that my grandfather was the complete opposite. He was certainly an old school 'player.' Until he died in his late 80's, my grandfather was the kind of man that could easily dominate any conversation in a room. He was a "natural." He also had multiple affairs on my Grandmother when they were dating (supposedly none after they married...but I wouldn't put it past the old goat). I think my Father was raised to be a supplicating Beta by my Grandmother constantly telling him to not be like his own father. She took him to a woman-pedestal-izing "Christian" church when he was a young boy and made sure he would not grow up to be a womanizer like his own Father.
My mother used to tell us that our Grandfather was a "terrible" man. That he was "abusive." What I now understand is that my Mother was observing how my Grandfather used to "neg" my Grandmother, and how he definitively "wore the pants." My Grandfather was a very dominant man and my Grandmother was certainly submissive to him. My mother couldn't stand going to their house for the holidays. It would drive her crazy to see my Grandfather say something like "Where's my dinner woman?!" and my Grandmother would quickly get to cooking in the kitchen.
In my mother's 1960's college indoctrinated mentality, my Grandfather was a chauvinist pig and my Grandmother, an oppressed slave catering to his every whim. It wasn't until I was a grown man and I saw my Grandparents die, that I began to understand that they truly loved each other. My Grandmother respected my Grandfather...and he truly loved her. I'll never forget standing at her hospital bedside, watching my Grandmother grasp my Grandfather's hand and telling him she loved him with all her heart and thanked him for a lifetime together. He was utterly heartbroken when she passed away. This was a complete and total shock to me. I had been brainwashed by my mother to believe that they had a sick, abusive relationship...that what they had was not "love."
Only now do I truly understand exactly who it is that has a sick, abusive relationship.
As a young teen, hearing a daily campaign of revulsion and contempt from my mother directed at my Father destroyed my own self-esteem and my own self-image. If your Father is such a piece of garbage, why than I must be one too. I used to hate my father with a passion...and that hatred also turned onto myself. When I looked in the mirror and saw that face that resembled my Father's, my mother's contempt for that similar face, had programmed me to develop a great deal of contempt for my own reflection in the mirror.
I now realize precisely why I myself embraced a self-destructive lifestyle as a teen and young adult. When it comes to hard drugs, and thrill seeking, reckless and suicidal behavior, I've been there and done that. I didn't care if I lived or died.
As I grew older and gained a real understanding of these things, I also went through a period of hatred for my mother. I've gotten over that now. I've gone through a pendulum of emotions and attitudes - from blaming my Father to blaming my Mother. I'm simply now past blame and recriminations. I've settled on simple acceptance. It is what it is, and I also realize that there are other people that have had far worse upbringings to deal with than what I went through. I now realize that my Mother is not totally to blame for her contempt of my Father...that my Father simply does not understand how his supplicating, "nice-guy" manner of dealing with my Mom is the very reason why she's such a bitchy nag to this very day.
But I thank God I have taken the "red-pill" and see such things clearly now. When my own children grow older, I think I have the knowledge to give them a much better home life than the one I grew up in.