Monday, February 20, 2017

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.

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