Growing up in a dysfunctional family is a hard thing for a child to endure. As a child my classmates and I lived average lives. On occasion I would hear stories, from friends at school, how “dysfunctional” their families were. It was not until my sophomore year of high school that I had a friend that was from a dysfunctional family. Through my best friend I learned that growing up in a dysfunctional family builds a child’s personality in numerous positive ways. I saw, in James Smith, that being raised in a dysfunctional family made him an independent man.
James was born and raised in Houston, Texas. At a young age James’ parents divorced. Due to the divorce James has two younger half brothers. One from each biological parent and their second spouse. The older of the two brothers is 16 and serving time in a state correctional facility for boys because of burglary charges. The younger of the two is about 9 years old and lives with James’ estranged ex-stepmother. James’ biological father is very ill with the HIV virus and James is unsure of his health or where he currently lives. James worries if his father is well or even still alive. His mother and stepfather, whom he lived with until he was 12, are currently trying to kick their heroine addiction. Throughout the 20 years of James’ life he has lived with multiple family members and a friend, which is I. He currently, has a two-bedroom apartment, in a very exclusive area of Houston, with a co-worker. James has been working at Compaq Computer Corp. for almost a year. He works 40 to 48 hour weeks as a computer technician earning $14.50 due to his vast knowledge in the computer field.
James is a very unique person. He is 5’5 and weights about 150 lbs. making him slightly stout. His jolly round face is set on his manila colored skin. While accompanied by hair, as brown as the wet sand on a beach, cut in a military style. However when it gets long it curls and resembles a shaggy dog. The whites of his mocha brown eyes have a blue tint to them as a result of James having Osteoporosis. A past leg injury has left him with a slight stagger when he jogs or runs. When he walks he always seems to keep his hand right at his sides. As if he were walking straight toward a destination he is completely focused on.
James’ personality is surrounded by a multitude of characteristics. The one that stands out like a single star in a pitch-black sky is his sense of independence. James has never let anyone or anything stop him from doing what he thinks is best for him. He has taken complete control of every situation that has been set before him. He does not let the actions of others have an influence on his own decisions. Throughout the years James has been constantly surrounded by the bad habits of others and never picked them up.
After the divorce James’ mother was given custody of him. By the time he was 10 years old his mother and stepfather were using drugs, such as marijuana, in front of him and his younger half brother. Two years went by and now James was 12 and his parent were selling any and everything they could get their hands on to support their crack cocaine addiction. James decided that this was an unnatural as well as unhealthy environment for him to grow up in any longer. He moved out at the age of 12 in fear that his parents drug use would have an influence on him. To me James showed more independence, as a 12-year-old boy, than most adults have ever shown.
After I met James and heard about his life from him and his parents, who I eventually met before they fell off the face of the Earth. I realized that even though he went through events that most of us just read or hear about, does not mean he became a product of environment. As a matter of fact he became just the opposite. He does not believe in the use of drug or affiliate himself with those who use drugs. James has shown me that the best thing he got out of his dysfunctional family life was his sense of independence. James Smith could not be more independent if you wrote him his own personal Constitution.