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Agree that sincere apologies can be transformative.
Then explain the “but.” By demanding one from your parents — and by putting his life or recovery or whatever else on hold till he gets it — he gives them control over his life. Again. And what if they died tomorrow — no health for him, ever?
I realize how hard it is to choose health when feeling wronged, with that awful sense you’re letting the wrongdoers out of jail free. Your brother likely feels ready to wait in perpetuity for your parents to do their share of suffering.
Don’t negate that feeling. Instead, try describing that choice in non-emotionally charged terms: He’s waiting to be fed ambrosia — the apology — though he has no say in when he gets it, if ever. Meanwhile, there are bran flakes that he can serve himself at any time — as in, a decision to accept what he has and make the most of his life.
Almost everyone holds out for the ambrosia at least once, at least for a while, understandably.
You can’t make him stop waiting any more than he can make your parents apologize, but you can understand. And as the brother who chose the bran, you can also attest to how much better you feel since you did.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.