Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!
This week, one of my regular commenters asks for advice on his (or her) self-destructive sister. The situation is below:
Dear Bad Advice,
Please allow me to complain about my constantly-complaining sister!
Actually, I try not to buy into her mindset. The constant complainer “wins,” if you continually allow them to get under your skin.
Not only does my sister complain a lot, but she has made some very bad choices in her life: cheating on a good husband, refusing to reconcile with him, not doing anything about finding a decent job, constantly antagonizing friends and family, etc., etc. And despite all of her very bad choices, she always finds someone else to blame for her self-inflicted misery. She even blames our kind, responsible, loving parents, who did not spoil us, but who, according to her bizarre thinking, supposedly ruined her life by not preparing her for every possible situation which might arise due to her own mistakes. And if you get into a conversation with her, she will be sure to let you know this.
People like my sister seem to wallow in their own misery, and have a “grass-is-greener” attitude about other people’s lives, which is, of course, completely unrealistic. And, there are times when I just need to tell my sister what’s what, even though that always creates a firestorm, and there are other times when I need to break off contact for at least a while. My sister needs to take responsibility for herself, and until that happens, she will continue to inflict misery on herself and others.
- Not Into Sister’s Act
This is going to sound like bad advice, but don’t treat your sister like she’s crazy for going through some ups and downs.
Ask almost anybody to name the most important things in their life, and chances are family will make its way onto the list. Family – or at least the idea of it – lies at the core of most people’s existence. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God designed the family to be the catalyst for spiritual, physical, and emotional growth. The Biblical idea of family is built around mutual respect and well-defined roles. You can find plenty of advice in the Bible on how to live life within the family:
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8
“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” Proverbs 15:20
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20
“Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Walt Disney lived these values too. He loved his daughters and grandchildren, and his ultimate goal was to provide quality entertainment for families. He designed his theme parks to be fun for parents as well as children, and his films and television series contained elements that the entire family could enjoy.
On the next few pages we’re going to look at the value of family in some of the classics in the Disney canon. The studio released four of these films during Walt’s lifetime, and one came out four decades after his death. Enjoy!
Most people think Marv is crazy, but I don’t believe that. I’m no shrink and I’m not saying I’ve got Marv all figured out or anything, but “crazy” just doesn’t explain him. Not to me. Sometimes I think he’s retarded, a big, brutal kid who never learned the ground rules about how people are supposed to act around each other. But that doesn’t have the right ring to it either. No, it’s more like there’s nothing wrong with Marv, nothing at all — except that he had the rotten luck of being born at the wrong time in history. He’d have been okay if he’d been born a couple of thousand years ago. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman Arena, taking a sword to other gladiators like him. They’d have tossed him girls like Nancy, back then. — Sin City
Ever watched a classic action flick? Of course you have. Movies like Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lethal Weapon, First Blood, and 300 have become fixtures in the American psyche. All these movies feature either a lone man or a small group fighting in a desperate, violent struggle and yet, somehow, coming out on top. Throughout most of America’s history, the average man could more easily relate to the experiences in those movies the way someone who shoots hoops at the park could relate to watching an NBA game. Sure, they might not have been able to do what they were seeing on the screen, but they were well-acquainted with violence. Either they had inflicted it, suffered it, or seen it up close and personal. We’re a nation that was birthed in a bloody revolution, where feuds and dueling were frequent occurrences, where intermittent battles with Indians occurred until the twenties, where roughly twenty percent of the male population served in WWII, and where fist fights and brawling were relatively common.
The average man may have seen hundreds of thousands of murders on his TV screen and committed tens of thousands more playing video games, but he has also probably never struck another human being in anger in his entire adult lifetime. In other words, he may be captivated by the imagery he sees at the movies, but he goes home knowing that he will never even live out a pale imitation of what he’s just seen.
It’s not a therapeutic book. It’s a sociology book on children of divorce, when they are grown. If you were a child of a divorce, it mostly reads like the horror story of the babysitter with the call coming from “….inside the house!” If you’re married, it’ll give you that, so I’m not alone feeling.
The review from Amazon:
During the last 40 years, our society’s views on how families are created and how they operate has undergone a tremendous shift. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, authors Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee have assembled a variety of stories from people of different ages and life stages. Some are children of divorce, some are from families that stayed unhappily intact, but all of them offer valuable information important to all of us as parents, children, and members of society at large. Separate chapters focus on the different roles children take on in the event of a divorce or unhappy marriage, ranging from positive role model to deeply troubled adolescent. In many cases, the people interviewed continue to define themselves as children of divorce up to 30 years after the occurrence; this is described by one subject as “sort of a permanent identity, like being adopted or something.”
Both encouraging and thought-provoking, the final chapter questions how we maintain the freedom made possible by divorce while, at the same time, minimizing the damage. The authors’ response to this question begins with pragmatic suggestions about strengthening marriage–not bland “family values” rhetoric but practical how-to ideas combined with national policy initiatives that have been making the rounds for years. With fascinating stories and statistics, Wasserstein, Lewis, and Blakeslee have illuminated the improvements within reach while our society experiences these massive changes in it’s most fundamental relationships. –Jill Lightner
Related at PJ Lifestyle on dysfunctional relationships and marriages:
I still lived in Austin, Texas in 1999. That summer, against all odds, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, new husband, father-to-be, won his first Tour de France in an impressive display of athleticism.
He was a hero, an inspiration. When he returned to Austin, the city held a victory rally, in which park I can’t recall as Austin is loaded with large and picturesque gathering spots. A couple of friends and I went to the rally early to grab a patch of ground close enough to see Armstrong and his miracle-pregnant wife. It wasn’t all about Lance. Austinites need only the flimsiest of reasons to gather outside for a couple of beers. But we did love him. We were so proud of him. Even now, when the whole truth has outed, I can still remember the energy and joy at that rally. And the yellow. Everyone wore yellow.
A few months later, his wife gave birth to their son. The following summer he repeated his Tour victory. Soon, he welcomed twin daughters and claimed another Tour de France victory. Our pride in Armstrong overflowed. He could have done anything.
But then Lance Armstrong took off his hero mask. Sometime after his twins arrived, he left his family. I can’t remember if he already had Sheryl Crow waiting for him. It doesn’t matter really. His marriage didn’t have high conflict, at least not on her part. He might have been cheating or she might have left him due to his doping habit. But in hindsight-enhanced scenarios, he was the culpable party.
My shock at the truth about Lance Armstrong came with the split. I have a few girlfriends who spilled tears over the news. The kind of guy who can abruptly walk away from his wife and his children is capable of almost anything in service of self. So current shock at the truth surprises me. We learned that Lance Armstrong lacked honor back in 2003. The doping simply provides more details and removes any pretense for keeping that scar in the heart of Austin.
Recently while dining with my favorite husband at a restaurant with live music, the singer performed Danny’s Song, an old favorite of mine.
Since I had not heard this song in years it touched a raw emotional chord in my memory bank and the song has stayed on my mind ever since.
At the height of the song’s popularity I was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. Whenever it played on the radio (which was quite frequently) my girlfriends and I would sing along at the top of our lungs.
But above all I remember the lyrics making a huge psychological impact on me, helping formulate my sweet 16 view of love, relationships and future marriage.
Now looking back at the song from my 57-year-old perspective it was the chorus that imprinted itself on my heart.
And even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya honey, everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning when I rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes,
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.
As a teenager that chorus spoke to me saying “whether you are rich or poor, love conquers all.”
I truly embraced the message.
Then of course you grow up and strap yourself in for a ride on the roller coaster of life. When hurricanes strike and the roller coaster gets swept out to sea (like this one in New Jersey recently) with you still on it, but your partner is gone and your wallet is empty, then you wise up and realize that song’s message was just a sweet 16 fairy tale.
As many aging baby boomers experienced their roller coaster ride through life, money issues were often deal breakers in marriages.
My peers may have started out singing “even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya honey” but then we watched as the record got severely scratched or broken after the roller-coaster took some sharp unexpected turns.
Since I like to think of myself as a one person aging baby boomer focus group… and if I was so heavily impacted by this song’s idyllic message, how many of you were as well?
In the comments section, you are allowed to stomp on your ex who stole your wallet, but just do not use real names!
On the other hand, if you are still in your first baby boomer marriage that is a testament to Danny’s Song, congratulations, and please share your story, but don’t make the rest of us feel too bad.
And get caught up on Myra’s previous Baby Boomer nostalgia adventures in this series’ predecessor, Classic Rock and Cheap Wine:
In 1972 (or what I like to refer to as “prehistoric times” before cell phones, internet or cable) I was a junior at Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
In homeroom, my assigned seat was next to a student named Peter, who my friends had designated “most likely to die of a drug overdose.” But Peter, despite “having issues,” had cultivated a reputation for being on the cutting edge of rock music hip-ness.
So one day during homeroom “quiet time,” I passed Peter a note asking what bands he was currently listening to and he wrote back Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac.
These names fascinated me because I had yet to hear of any of them.
Why do I even remember this note passing incident from 40 years ago?
Two reasons: first, as predicted, not long after high school Peter tragically died of a drug overdose. And second, the music of the bands named in Peter’s note formed a prophetic soundtrack for my life in the years ahead.
Starting in September of 1973, Pink Floyd and I had a monumental first meeting during my freshman year at Ohio State University. The experience resulted in lifelong friendship bonds chronicled here a few months ago.
Then there is Black Sabbath, or rather Ozzy Osbourne. Although I was never a big fan of his, the lyrics, “I am going off the rails of the crazy train” is a favorite phrase that occasionally pops up in my writing, but more often in conversation when I am describing the current state of our nation.
But most prophetic was Fleetwood Mac, a band with whom I had a love affair which lasted years. Later in 1972 a friend introduced me to their new album called Bare Trees. A good album I thought, but not life altering.
But in 1977, during my senior year in college, Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours and that was life altering. Songs from Rumours were always playing in the background as I transitioned from college to Washington D.C with first jobs and first marriage.
I will not bore you with all the tawdry details of why I am so emotionally tied to this album, but please do write some comments about yours! For if you are about my age I know you have some, because this album greatly impacted millions of baby boomers.
Especially one 1946 “first crop” baby boomer by the name of Bill Clinton, who in 1992 revived the popularity of Rumours and Fleetwood Mac by choosing Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow as his presidential campaign theme song.
President Clinton even convinced the band to get back together to play at his 1993 inaugural ball.
Back in the late 70’s, due to the popularity of Rumours, I discovered the first and only album by Lindsey Buckingham and Steve Nicks entitled Buckingham Nicks. This spectacular album, largely forgotten and never released on CD, was a foreshadowing of this duo’s future greatness. Here is the entire album if you have never heard it.
So in honor of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey, Stevie and Peter (may he rest in peace) what shall we drink?
Absolutely nothing but spring water! Because this morning I am sitting in Manitou Springs, Colorado elevation 6,412 feet with a pounding headache that started last night after I imbibed three glasses of Pinot Noir with my dinner of wild boar spare ribs and a few bites of my husband’s antelope.
Apparently, since I now live at sea level (literally next to the sea), an elevation of 6,412 feet and wine do not make beautiful music together for this aging baby boomer.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and may I recommend that your family along with ours sing this really classic song before dinner.
And will someone please try that “favorite rock song conversation game” I wrote about recently over the long holiday weekend when gossiping about other family members finally runs dry?
The lovely Chris Niles is a long-time and very dear friend of mine — and an extremely talented colleague as well. Recently, after 21 years of wedded something-or-other, Chris’s husband walked out on her. This, of course, was extremely bad news for Chris, but she’s making it sort of interesting for the rest of us with one of the best written blogs I’ve ever seen. The blog is called WHATSTHATYOUSAYMRSROBINSON and, largely through a series of character sketches, chronicles Chris’s completely unsavory and probably unwise attempts to deal with her heart-wrenching situation. Well, as I say, she’s a friend of mine, so unsavory and unwise come with the territory. Here’s a sample:
The Jamaican. The worst flirt in the Western Hemisphere, hands down. Well over six feet tall, good looking, and with a voice like Barry White overdosed on Valium, the Jamaican is the mayor of my local bar. He likes the corner stool, next to the door, so he can ogle the women and size up the men.
The Jamaican’s sex appeal is weapons’ grade; this point cannot be over-emphasized. But, bless him, he doesn’t sit back and let his considerable physical assets do all the work. Did I mention that he’s the worst flirt in the Western Hemisphere? Hold onto that thought and imagine being steamrollered by charm. You’re so steamrollered you cannot think straight; you can’t even remember your own name. Normally I have the resting heart rate of a coma victim. About three feet from the Jamaican it began doing a fairly solid impersonation of a jackhammer.
There didn’t seem to be any doubt that it went both ways. Perhaps it was the fact that he liked to sit so close to me our thighs touched. Or the time he put his hand to the clasp of my bra and said, grinning. “When I was 22 I could have got that off with one hand.” For a few seconds—I was a little slow on the uptake because I was trying to recall my name—I thought he might actually do it.
If the above horrifies you, you can stay here with me — I couldn’t remove a bra with both hands and a power drill. But if you love good writing, sardonic humor and post-separation insanity, I really recommend this. It’s great stuff.