Sunday, June 11, 2017

RIGHTS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES

When words lose their power and honesty is not welcome, silence follows. Silence is often not merely appropriate--many times, it is the only honest part of a broken relationship. Broken is broken, regardless of mutual acknowledgment.

Logic is useless in a mind which defies, denies, or ignores reality. And honesty is not welcome in a relationship when problematic stories are expected to be believed without question and wrong actions are expected to be allowed without correction.

While it is true that everyone has the right to be wrong, rights have consequences. No one wants a spouse who defends his or her behavior on the basis of “rights.” Having the right to mistreat a love one is about as useful as claiming the right to speed when a police officer is standing next to your car. Rights aren’t the same as being right, and--codependency aside--the consequences aren’t always within the control of the offending party.

When one side of a relationship starts dictating the terms of the conversation because they are tired of having their stories picked apart, that’s cause for honest silence. It doesn’t matter if their stories are full of holes, nor does it matter that a new, equally hole-filled story will take their place once the initial stories meet resistance. What matters is that honesty is barred when faith is expected by those whose constantly-shifting stories confirm the lack of basis for their expectation.

Silence isn’t the same as giving up; sometimes silence is the only honest part of a relationship. What power do words have when logic is useless and honesty is not welcome?

Monday, February 27, 2017

DEALING WITH WALLS

The primary goal of a wall is to avoid moving. Most walls are designed and built with this goal in mind. So, if your goal is to make a wall move, you have to understand that you’re attacking its strength.

Attacking a strength is a good way to lose.

Walls come in many forms: a closed mind. Delusion. Thoughtlessness. Intolerance. On…and on…and on.

You can’t change someone’s mind when it is closed. Honest conversation is impossible when you’re talking to a person who believes their own lies. And logic is useless when you’re dealing with someone who refuses to think for himself.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear D.L.,

…and now we’re more alone than ever.

There were five people in agreement on what needed to happen.

Less than a week later, it was down to four.

And now--six months later--only two people are following through on the actions which five originally agreed upon. Those two people are the problem--everyone else has moved on.

This was never about the yelling. The yelling was one of the many symptoms of an abuser who refused to take responsibility for his actions.

Short and simple: the abuser still hasn’t taken responsibility.

Nothing has changed.

Those who have moved on have simply moved on. No one else talks about this situation every night. It’s fixed. It’s over.

Nope.

Truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth. Silence confirms this, and silence says more than an endless stream of delusional explanations ever will.

Dear D.L.,

I should have written this before last Friday, but it’s tiring when you’re expected to be the only one who comes up with answers. So a post-weekend prediction--which proved to be true--will have to do.

You hadn’t visited in almost six months. You didn’t call, write, or give any explanation for your silence. You let your wife--who was all to happy to put on a good front, to tell everyone how much you’ve changed--do all the talking for you. You took the easy way out, thinking that the passing of time would replace the explanation you refused to give.

Time won’t heal this one. You want to us to come back in the water because you’ve stopped being a hurricane. But you haven’t acknowledged what you’ve done. You haven’t expressed any remorse to anyone, with the exception of the codependent enabler in your life who will always coddle you and tell you how much it wasn't your fault. You’ve just stopped raging (this is second-hand knowledge--please confirm), with the hope that everyone will forget. But how can anyone believe what you refuse to acknowledge?

Last September, there were six of us in a room. Five of us all agreed on what had to be done: you had to make visible, outward changes, and that the rest of us couldn’t go back to acting like everything was normal until you did. But you wouldn’t even admit your fault when we gave you specific examples of your abuse. You blamed your victim, you denied your responsibility. You had no idea what was important in your life, you professed to love an occupation that clearly makes you miserable, and you refused to take responsibility for the changes you need to make in your life.

You know how this situation came to be. For 46 years, no one has ever held you accountable. Your family, for all of their virtues, cowered in fear of you. When you blew up, no one called you on it. You just expected everyone else to get over it--and if they didn’t, that was their fault. You just moved on, as though it was your place to do so. You'll be lucky if that trait doesn't continue into the next two generations.

Which brings me back to this past weekend. You want everything to go back to normal because you’ve been behaving--but in three days of visiting, you didn’t even acknowledge the change in your behavior, much less the reason for the change. But I can give you the simple version: an outsider came into your family and showed you a mirror. You--and everyone else in your immediate family--has now seen who you’ve been, who you are, and who you’re going to become if you don’t take responsibility for your life and make dramatic changes as a result. Incremental changes are already obsolete, and your continued silence will only make things worse.

Things don’t have to get worse. They can get better--you can decide to make changes. This is not as good as it gets. The present situation is not the best we can do. What we (and by "we," I mean the rest of us) are dealing with right now is trying to make the best of a broken family--and fixing broken things is what you do better than anyone I know. Fix this. Fix it now.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dear D.L.,

Why do you miss me? Stop waiting for me to fix this--only you can make a positive difference in our relationship.

Here's a short list of ways:

Go to marriage counseling. You're not going to listen to anyone in this family when they try to help. You can't tell the difference between sorrow and guilt at this point--and without remorse, you're just behaving.

Schedule your own doctor appointments. Don't make someone else do it; take responsibility for your own life.

Cook meals, pay the bills, and do the laundry--basically, if you don't feel like doing a task at your house, that's your cue to do it. Your wife treats you like a toddler because she believes you'll fall apart if she doesn't do literally everything for you. Is she right?

And tell everyone to stop speaking for you. They offer nothing more than excuses anyway.

The truth of the matter is that this could be fixed in short order if you would put half as much effort into healing our families as you do into finding the best price on fence posts. And if you come back with "I'm going to try harder, and we're going to take it slower," remember this: an alcoholic who drinks less, or slower, or in a more relaxed fashion is still an alcoholic.

You need to change. Drastic change.

Monday, February 6, 2017

THE KETO DIET

Keto Mounds!
So. The Keto diet. It’s worked for me—I started 2017 at 160 lbs. Yesterday I saw 148.8. I'm not one to take shirtless photos in the mirror, so no picture evidence will be offered without payment. But I'm happy with how I feel, and that's not something I say lightly.

The Keto diet is a variant of what most people know as the Adkins diet: the famous low/no carb diet. The Keto diet, however, focuses more on fat and less on protein than the Adkins diet. But the bottom line is pretty simple: no carbs. No bread, no fruit, no sugar. And while that probably sounds like a terrible combination—a high-fat diet with no fruits and limited vegetables—I’ve probably eaten healthier in the last month than I have in years. I’ve had more salads than ever, and I’ve rediscovered the fact that I really like brussel sprouts. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

BABY FATHERHOOD: ABOVE ALL, MAKE IT FAIR

New fatherhood is a matter of focus. What matters the most in any marriage? The love of husband and wife. It goes without saying, but when it goes unsaid, it's easy to forget. And that doesn't change when baby #1 arrives. It becomes more important.

The role of a new father is to serve his wife. That's it. You may think "I can't do anything, she has to do all of these things, all I can do is change diapers, etc." Yes--there is truth there. Mother Nature is sexist. Mothers dominate when it comes to breastfeeding, nurturing, and emotionally attaching. Fathers tend to think that they are relegated to support duty in many areas. And while that is true, it's a destructive perspective that leads many husbands to lazily refuse to do all that they are able to do.

You can change diapers. You can get your wife a cup of water with a straw when she is breastfeeding. You can learn different ways of holding your baby so that you can help to calm it when it is upset. You can learn to use the 5 S's of calming a baby for naps and nighttime put-downs: shush, suckle, swaddle, shake (jiggle, for everyone who just rended their garments over the term), and side-turn.

You can take the baby for a walk so that your wife can take a nap.

If your wife uses a breast pump, you can clean all of the pump parts. In fact, you SHOULD clean all of the breast pump parts--pumps may be awesome in terms of the flexibility that they offer to breastfeeding moms, but they are inconvenient, cumbersome, and deserve to be hated by those who must use them on a daily basis. Your wife has to use the pump to fill the bottles--she should never have to clean any of those damn parts. That's like having the same person do the dishes after cooking every meal--it's an unfair arrangement. Be a man, not a male: make it fair.