When Jason’s adolescence was in full bloom, he was holding in a lot of pent-up rage. One way he expressed these feelings was to blow things up. He would take toy planes, cars and stuffed animals into the wooded area behind their house, arrange them in story situations, and then blow them up with cherry bombs. He even invited his younger brother and sister to witness some of the more elaborate shows. This fun came to a halt on the day that his munitions set fire to the woods and the fire department had to put it out.
He also engaged in shoplifting. He would stuff comic books and bowling accessories into his shirt and walk out without paying. He bragged about these exploits to his younger siblings until the day he got caught by a store manager. His father and mother didn’t handle these incidents well, and it seemed to Jason that he was losing their love and respect, too.
When he was 16, his father attempted to teach Jason how to drive the family car. But the first time he backed out the driveway, Jason nervously pressed too hard on the accelerator and hit a car that was parked across the street. It was an accident, but he was never allowed to drive the car again.
The day after Jason graduated from high school, he vented his rage by walking down the hallway bashing in lockers with a hammer as he went. Even though witnesses told the principal what happened, Jason denied that he was the culprit. When his parents demanded that he pay for the repairs, Jason left home to join the Navy.
At the age of 18, misbehaving and then lying about it had become an ingrained pattern. In the Navy he found out that exaggerating the truth didn’t take him very far. To escape the pain of his low self-esteem, he abused alcohol and drugs. When rehab didn’t change his behavior, he blamed his superiors. After other rules violations, he was demoted and given a dishonorable discharge. By contrast, Howard had graduated from the Air Force Academy and as a major flew F-15 missions in support of the first Gulf War.
The straw that broke the camel’s back happened in 1988 when Jason visited his younger brother Chris and his wife Judy in Tucson. Jason seduced her, and after she told Chris about it, the couple divorced. No doubt the marriage was in trouble before Jason arrived, or the incident might not have happened in the first place. Nevertheless, the black sheep of the family was finally black-listed. No one wanted to have anything to do with him anymore, especially Howard, who no longer believed anything he said.
When Jason was 38 years old, he called his father to ask for several thousand dollars to sponsor him on the professional bowling tour. His father interpreted this unlikely request as a scam to get money for drugs. Still emotional and out of touch with reality, Jason held this refusal against his parents.
Jason’s murder wasn’t a high-priority case in Las Vegas, and the perpetrators were never caught. Also, it took the police several months to learn his real identity and notify his parents. By then his body had already been disposed of. No one came to claim his personal effects.
Members of Jason’s family have asked themselves if they could have done anything differently to change the outcome. Howard says that he shouldn’t have been so hard on his little brother. In the end, however, Jason was like everyone else—he was the one responsible for the choices he made. Other people have suffered worse abuse and used their inner strength to survive it and create healthy, productive lives. At some point, Jason gave up on this approach, preferring to create a world made of lies.
Jackson's teen journey story - Part One - Part Two
Erica's teen journey story - Part One - Part Two
When a teen journey turns out bad and the result is tragedy, you can bet the person didn't get good coaching as a teen. That's why I wrote these books...
For boys - Conversations with the Wise Aunt
For girls - Conversations with the Wise Aunt
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use image purchased from fotolia.net)