By age 3 or 4, most children have been taught the possessive distinction between what is “mine” and what is “yours.”
Connected to this understanding is the injunction not to cross that boundary without consent. That is, when desiring to use what is somebody else’s, one must ask for, and receive, authorization first. To take without asking or being given permission breaches the victim’s property rights.
It is considered ethically “wrong,” and is labeled “stealing” or “theft.” Because it is what belongs to a person, property theft is usually considered personal. “Take what is mine and you take part of me.” Hence when stolen from, victims feel attacked and suffer a loss.
— Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D.
When we were in our twenties and still dwelt under the same roof, I would often come home from work or school to find that David had walked into my bedroom while I was away and taken something of mine. Sometimes it was clothing, and sometimes it was something else. When I complained about this and demanded that he get my permission if he wanted to borrow something of mine, his typical response was, “You weren’t here [to ask].”
If you want to know the signs to look for in order to identify a psychopath, you can click here, here, and here. Tell-tale symptoms include, but are not limited to, a lack of empathy, lack of respect for other people’s rights and belongings, and a lack of remorse. All the symptoms mentioned in the links provided apply to David.
Case in point:
In 2001 I enlisted in the United States Air Force. Unfortunately, I washed out of basic training due to bum wrists from previous breakage, and was sent back to Ohio just over two months afterward. I had entrusted David with my bank account so he could pay my remaining utility bills in my absence, since I wouldn’t be able to do so while in basic training. When I came back, David admitted to having used the money I’d set aside for paying my gas bill to pay for his truck-driving license and get a job driving trucks. That job lasted, maybe, a few months. Meanwhile, I was out well over two hundred dollars.
Granted, it was stupid of me to trust David with anything, especially money. In 2009 he borrowed money from me to pay his rent and promised to pay it back in a couple of weeks. It took him something like six weeks to finally do it, with a little extra as interest. And every time he paid me less than the promised amount, he would get angry at me for reminding him of his original payback date and yell about how he’d missed work because of illness. David missed a lot of work from stress- and crazy-related illness, usually brought upon himself. David flies off the handle at every little thing said to him.
Anyway, after another argument with “mother” in 2001 resulted in my being kicked out of the house again, I moved in with my aunt and stayed there until January 2002. As my unemployment wore on I was given a deadline to find a job or else I’d have to move out. With the deadline approaching and no job materializing, I knew I couldn’t stay. David offered me the opportunity to rent the downstairs floor of a house on West 105th Street off Lorain, which belonged to the cousin of a friend of his. Big mistake for me to take him up on that offer. David had promised, in return for the money he’d stolen from me, to pay my rent of $200 until I got a job. He paid exactly one month’s rent before telling me I was on my own, in front of my landlord.
So yeah, my mistake for relying on David to follow through on his promises. I know better than to trust a non-family member with my money, or rely on non-family members with track records like David’s. But I grew up with the naïve belief that when it comes to family, you forgive these things because family is supposed to look out for one another. David never got the memo on that.
Neither did my eldest niece, Mallory. In 2009, in fact, at around the same time David had borrowed a couple hundred from me (November), I got a call from Mallory, her voice sobbing, telling me she needed three hundred dollars to pay her rent or else she would end up being evicted. I was short on money at the time, having already been screwed over by David, but I figured, it was family, and surely Mallory wouldn’t screw me over like her other uncle had.
So I wrote out a check and had my bank deposit it to Mallory’s. I got a call from David a short time later informing me that Mallory had posted on her Facebook page that she was on her way back home to North Carolina to visit her siblings and parents.
Now, a little background is in order. In 2007 my older brother Steven, his wife Teresa, and the three kids (Mallory, Randall, and Elaine) came up for a visit. I could tell things weren’t going well because Elaine was acting really moody, and Mallory indicated there were problems between her and her parents. At the time I didn’t realize just how bad things were, but I found out the next year when my nephew Randall sent me a message on MySpace detailing an incident in which my brother had chased him off the property following a confrontation over the mowed lawn. Randall told me of how Steve was abusive toward his wife and children, and Mallory told my parents, David, and me about all the horrible things he’d been doing, which included making Elaine go to school for an entire month in the same unwashed dress and hair to teach her a lesson, breaking the arm of a thirteen-year-old in custody at the local jail (Steve was a sheriff’s deputy at the time), getting himself fired from a construction after blowing up at co-workers, and other horror stories.
To say I was disappointed and angry with him would be something of an understatement. And this was the guy to whose house Mallory was traveling for Thanksgiving after borrowing three hundred dollars from me — three hundred dollars she has never made so much as one attempt to pay back.
Years later, Mallory would tell me some cockamamie story about how her friends used their frequent flier miles(?) to pay for her air fare. Well, that was nice of them, but if they had money to spare so she could take a trip to visit her abusive father and her siblings, they certainly could have helped her with her rent instead of begging me for money she knew I needed.
Contrast this with my Aunt Kathy. She means well. She’s generous. When family is in trouble, she will go our of her way to help out. She can be aggravating sometimes in the way most family members occasionally are, and God knows I’ve lost my temper with her and chewed her out when she was only trying to help. That’s more on my lack of patience than on her personality. But my Aunt Kathy is a good woman, and she tries.
That is what family is supposed to do: help, and be there for relatives even when there’s nothing to be gained from it. But with David and Mallory, and my “mother”, I never get the sense that they have any understanding of the word. I remember once, when my father was in the hospital and our hot water tank went kaput. My Uncle Jim bought us a new one, with the understanding that this was a loan to be paid back. “Mother” kept telling Uncle Jim what kind of water tank she wanted, and his annoyed response was to tell her she would take the one she was given. “Mother” claimed Uncle Jim had abused her by saying that to her, but having witnessed that exchange, I knew she was full of shit. Years later, when my Uncle Jim was short on cash, “mother” paid back some of the money she owed him and told him he didn’t have to pay it back. Well, considering it was money she owed my uncle, that was obvious, and I think Uncle Jim made some remark to that effect. Oh dear; more “abuse”!
I sit here shaking my head.
Uncle Jim passed away this past January. Neither David or my “mother” bothered to attend his memorial in June. Well, David might have if he hadn’t lost his car to repossession for the zillionth time, or maybe he’d have concocted some excuse about his anxiety preventing him from leaving the house without crapping his pants. I don’t know. But it’s funny, isn’t it? Despite whatever problems I’ve had with my father’s family, at the end of the day we are family and we recognize this, and what it means to be family. But not David, not Mallory, and certainly not my “mother”, or her side of the “family”.