I had a
conversion during college. I had 3 years down toward my degree, but my conversion
led to me seriously consider the priesthood. Partially because of that, and because
of financial considerations, I stopped school and came back home to start trying to
pay off my loans so I could try a vocation.
I realize now that there were always some things messed up, but right
about the time I came home, my younger brothers life fell apart. Heroin addiction,
arrests, threats of suicide, etc. My family was torn apart. I handled the whole
situation terribly. My siblings took the tough love approach. My parents enabled him.
I originally agreed with the tougher approach as well; I was going to move out, but I
was too weak. I questioned myself. My parents defense of their own position wore
I went back and forth. And in my uncertainty, I just ended up doing nothing.
I shut down.
Your website has helped a great deal; has helped me see many things in a much
more clear light, even when what I often see isnt pretty.
But in my uncertainty, I am still doing nothing. I am still not sure what to
My brother has been clean a year. But I think mostly because of the medication
he was taking. I know you have to start off slow, but my parents still enable him. My
mother makes him special meals, my father basically admitted to having given up on trying
to get him to help out around the house, etc. He basically just plays video games all day.
He also displays some major anger towards religion (Satanic tattoos, etc.). I have almost
no relationship with him.
Should I tell him why I have almost no relationship with him? I want so badly
to just tell him, Dont expect me to have a relationship with you when you
disrespect our parents with your laziness and ingratitude. Dont expect me to have a
relationship with you when you blatantly disrespect Our Lord, etc. Is he too fragile
on account of his addiction to say this? Should I just let it go? Is the small amount of
improvement he has shown actually quite significant for what he has gone through which I
just dont understand?
Also, how (if at all) should one fraternally correct their parents? Is it my
place? I don't mean just in relation to the things above, but other stuff too (especially
when for so long, you haven't said anything).
In general, I am torn between a feeling that I should be more firm, detached,
(almost harsh). Say whats on my mind and how I feel and they can take it as they will.
Another part of me believes it would only make it worse to act like that.
Let it go, and just try to show ethusiasm and joy, and hopefully they can see that and
thats the best witness you can provide right now. (I just also feel that this is
like lying somehow, like its me saying everything is okay).
But again, my uncertainty leads to me doing nothing. As you mention on your
site: lack leads to desire. I sense so much lack from the past few years. So much inactivity,
paralyzed by uncertainty. The desire to undo it all kills me. How I can start a new? (I am
still looking for a job to try and move out) I feel so paralyzed.
rom what you have told me, I think that
your thoughts about the priesthood were an
excuse to quit college. In my opinion, this is a manifestation of your particular
symptom of procrastination. Moreover, in your symptom
you have something very much in common with your brother: your father.
The Consequences of a
If you read my webpage about the symbolic
role of a father, you will see quite clearly two of the many
consequences of a failed father; one consequence is addictions and another is
procrastination. Thus your father is the cause of your familyís dysfunction; he
fails to be a leader and a guide, and he fails to stand up to and correct your motherís
Nevertheless, blaming your father will get no
one anywhereóat least, nowhere pleasant.
In your conversion you saw the light of your
fatherís failure and were drawn to God the Father as the only hope for guidance in your
life. Conversions, though, require hard workóa lifetime of hard workóand you are just at
the point of starting that work. Learning to witness the
faithgently, not ruthlesslywill be one aspect
of that work.
What to Say to Your Brother
Therefore, you could tell your brother about
the truth of your relationship. You could say something such as, ďI understand your emotional
pain because the cause of your pain is our father. He has been lacking as a father and has
failed to provide us with proper guidance. I suffer from the same pain, but it manifests in
a different manner: for me itís procrastination, and for you itís addictions. Your addictions
and the self-sabotage that go with them are an unconscious way for you to inflict your
anger on our father. Your anger, however, will not make our father
change, but it will destroy you. Right now you are on a collision course with hell. Until
you see the truth of that, there is nothing I can do for you. If I said anything more, I would
be wasting my breath. So, until you decide to change, I will keep my distance from you. But
I will be there for you if you ever become serious about changing and want my help.Ē
What to Say to Your Father
As for your father, itís unlikely that your
saying anything to him will make him change. Still, you could give him a copy of my webpage
about the role of a father and say something such as, ďThis might help you in the difficulties
you are facing in our family. Up until now you have been a weak father, and my brotherís
addictions are the result of his anger at you. The only way for you to help him is for you to
radically change your behavior. Itís all up to you. But remember that
being a real father comes from allowing Godís grace to flow through you; so even if you
feel afraid you can still do it. Thereís nothing more for me to say. Iíve
seen the true light; I converted to the Catholic faith, and I will follow that path on my own.
But I will be there for you if you ever become serious about changing and want my help.Ē
The Spiritual Battle
As for you, grow in faith and learn to witness it.
Take up the great spiritual battle against evil, but remember that itís
not for you to fight with your own hands; the strength flows through your hands from God and
it doesnít belong to you. Fight all battles with love.
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information
gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips
in book form.
Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do
our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for
God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle
with the evil of the world? More often than not our children donít see living
faith. They donít see protection from evil. They donít see genuine, fruitful
devotion. They donít see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external
acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that
contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibilityóand when parents lose credibility,
children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for
identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval
than for loving God. They are fallen children. Letís bring them back.