(April 26, 2003)
I began this in response to your e-mail last Sunday. Even though theres been plenty of water over the dam since, I would still like to react to some of the issues you raised in that; a number of them resonated with me.
Yes, I remember that Christmas well, and I, too, felt it was joyless and a dreadful expression of a season that should be filled with a sense of wonderment and joy. I remember my hesitation to say anything, for such a statement would only have been used to show my inadequacies of character. I was often made to feel that I had a flawed character and I still feel that to this day vis-à-vis my parents, I might add.
Dad and I are having strained relations right now over my audacity to suggest that Rick and I might visit Sylvan for a couple of days in April in part to help out on spring work. When he became aware that I was suggesting same to Mother in a phone call and urging her to save some of the outside work for us, he nearly jumped from his chair, took the phone, and proceeded to give me a verbal lashing about my insensitivity to their needs that harked back to my formative childhood. He was beastly. I finally said, I called to check in, to commiserate over the Iraqi war, and to tell you we would like to visit (staying in a motel) in a few weeks. You have lambasted me. I am hurt, and I dont want to talk further. I said Id be in touch later.
I then wrote him a note, saying that we needed to find a better way of communicating. I eventually got a reply, but one that totally missed the mark. It was arrogant and self-justifying. And it surely did not apologize. While I feel anger and betrayal over this episode, I am also concerned. I worry that he is beginning to lose it, and his diminished inhibitions are an early indication of mental decline. If so, the prospects ahead for Mother and all of us in relating to him are dismal.
You say that I have lived in a holier-than-thou world. Im sorry you have perceived it that way. I believe I have kept the family at arms length out of a need to protect and insulate myself from feelings like the ones Ive had the last month. I did not want to be crippled emotionally by feelings of hurt and inadequacy that Dad (and Mother, too, I must say) invariably gave me, and the only way I knew how to avoid that cesspool was to withdraw to some extent. Once, in a tentative effort to get some emotional support a few years back when Rick, Ethan, and I were going through some terrible times, I was totally rebuffed. So, yes, I have stayed away where it is safe and where Ive thankfully had the support and love of my family-in-law.
I acknowledge emotional abuse. I believe that Dad is an emotionally troubled man. However, he was not sexually abusive to me. He was not criminally abusive.
In regards to the incidents with Tom and our brothers, I am deeply sorry that they happened. However, they happened a long time ago, and all parties/victims have asked that you not bring them up for further discussion and inspection.
I wholeheartedly support your journey in trying to gain understanding and peace. I know the pain I feel over my parental relations. I can only imagine the torment you feel. But I think the journey has to be more about coming to terms with oneself and the cards we were dealt. I dont think there is anything to gain by hurtling pain, blame and suffering on aged parents and other family members. I would wish that you could find a path to healing. It concerns me very much that your torment continues.
We siblings agonized for months over the letter we sent you and your therapist. Our most fervent desire is for you to find a measure of contentment and peace.
JOURNEY IS HERE.