Friday, June 13, 2008

...JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES

Dear Crabby:

I lost my brother to cancer last year and since then my life doesn’t seem to have meaning anymore. It isn’t that we were two confirmed bachelors, lived together and did practically everything together, but we were also twins. Our parents died when we were very young and we never separated throughout the years. There were girlfriends and such but in the final analysis we decided never to part from one another until my brother became ill last Fall.

I moved into the hospital with him for his care but now that he’s gone I just can’t seem to move on. I don’t know what to do or where to go. Everything just seems utterly pointless. Please, if you can – help me.

Darryl M. in Lavel Quebec



Dear Loyal Sibling and Caregiver:

You’ve been looking out for your brother for so long that in his absence it seems there’s nothing left for you to do. The good news, Darryl is that it just ‘seems’ that way.
It’s time’s like these I wish I had that magic pill or wand or quick reboot so I could just restart the world anew with fresh thoughts. Unfortunately, the ‘power invested in me’ has its limits. While I can’t make you forget the pain you’re feeling right now, perhaps there are a few steps I could suggest to soften the sting of regret that’s so persistent in your life at this moment in time. I want to point out that these steps aren’t ‘cure alls’ – they won’t numb the feelings you’re feeling. But they might change your outlook on the remaining years of your life.

So, Step One:
find some new hobbies to occupy your free time. You said you and your twin did everything together and I suspect that when you do those same activities now – or even think about doing them for that matter – all of the old sorrows over your loss come rushing back like a tidal wave.

My advice would be that you do something that’s out of character – something you and your brother never tried. It could be something as simple as visiting a new bistro in the neighborhood or reading a book you never thought would interest you before. Or it could be something as drastic as taking a vacation to some part of the world that you always wanted to visit but your brother had absolutely no interest in.

Whatever the change is – change, in and of itself, is generally positive in spirit. You wouldn’t be making these changes to spite your brother’s memory. You would be doing it to jump start some new memories for the sake of your own sanity.

Step Two:
get in touch with old friends – or better still – start making some new ones. They can be male or female; platonic or romantic. But test the waters. See what’s out there.
Afford yourself the luxury of companionship without feeling guilty that you’re having a good time with someone who isn’t your brother.
Step Three:
get a pet. I recommend a dog. Dog’s need people, unlike cats who just want their food and fresh water and then hope that you’ll round out your generosity by buzzing off.

A dog is a great companion. No matter what sort of day you’ve had, when you come home those loveable mutts are waiting for you – tails wagging – looking soulfully into your eyes with ‘I love you’ written all over their furry facades. Also, dogs are fairly intuitive. If you’re going through a rough spot, a dog can sense it and will try to be near you to ‘make things right.’
Step Four:
Force yourself to do stuff. I don’t mean just necessities like grocery shopping or gassing up the car. I want you to plan at least one major outing for every week. I don’t care what it is; going to the movies, jogging along the waterfront, signing up for a fitness club, playing tennis, jogging, cycling, hiking, barbequing with friends in the backyard.

I'll rip from Nike here – I want you to ‘just do it!’
No excuses. If you decided today to go for a walk tomorrow but wake up the next morning and discover that it’s raining, then (save the fact that it’s not a twister or hurricane) I want you to pack an umbrella and GO for that walk!
I remember someone telling me that activity merely suggests a life filled with purpose. I would strongly disagree. Activity is purpose. You get in the zone of whatever it is you’re doing and the action becomes a part of your emotional psyche. You feel better doing something that makes you physically productive. So, don’t just sit there staring at the same four walls you remember staring at with your brother. Get out of your shell and your former self. Do it. For yourself and because if you’re brother were here he’d probably be telling you the same thing.

Finally: Step Five:
I want you to do something nice for someone else.

I want it to be a spontaneous selfless act. Nothing grand. If you know someone who’s going through a rough patch like yourself – send them flowers or a singing telegram or a new picture for their office or house. Do it without expecting anything in return – even a phone call. Just put yourself in the other person’s place and become actively involved in what’s going on in somebody else’s life for that moment and see where the inspiration for being charitable will lead. Guaranteed – it won’t lead to boredom or regret.

Above all else, Darryl: losing a loved one is never easy.

No kidding.

It also takes time to massage the emotional wounds to a point where our pain is merely residual rather than all encompassing. I don’t pretend to have the Band-Aid to your problem. But I do know that the more you function as an active participant in the world outside of your own existence, the more likely you are to rediscover that the world at large has a lot more to offer you than the relationship you lost with your brother.

It isn’t that the relationship with your brother wasn’t important. It was. But it’s served its purpose and it’s over. Rediscovering another purpose to take its place is the task set before you now. Embrace it with all the time and personal investment you had in the relationship with your brother and I will guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with your results. Remember, all truly great days begin with a challenge.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic








Dear Crabby:

My 24 year old daughter just told us she’s been a lesbian for the last six years. This has my husband very upset. He thinks my daughter’s just confused and that she’ll get over it eventually. What do you think?

Jarlyene in Tennessee



Dear Denial-in-Waiting:

At 24, being a lesbian isn’t a phase or a means of experimentation. It’s a way of life. Most gay men and woman will tell you that they knew from a very early age that they were not attracted to people of the opposite sex. Your daughter’s been a lesbian for six years. She’s probably known she was one for a lot longer. There’s little to suggest she’ll ‘get over it’ – to use your husband’s terminology – and start chasing after boys in tight jeans instead.

I understand where your husband’s coming from. He probably had ideas of walking his little girl down the isle someday and didn’t factor into the equation that the other person waiting at the altar might also be wearing a dress. But your daughter’s revelation needn’t be a tragedy. Most people take a lifetime to figure out who they are. You’re daughter’s already come to that decision.

I think you had better prepare your husband for the very real understanding that his darling girl in pigtails is not going to wind up giving him a slew of grandchildren – at least, not by means of the old fashioned way of procreation. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker in their daughter/father bond. But if any change is going to occur, then it’s going to have to come from your husband – not your daughter.

Why not try and soften the blow for your husband with some readily apparent truths; starting with the fact that as far as your daughter is concerned – unwanted pregnancy is a non-issue. So is taking to love some creep who’ll batter her silly or rape her or both and then leave her in the back of a dumpster to be discovered by the trash man the next morning.

Finally, remind your husband that he had a life path and decision to make long ago. He made it and now he’s stuck with it. A real man steps up to the plate. Your daughter’s just starting her journey and apparently needs no help skipping with Toto along the yellow brick road.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic





Dear Crabby:

My girlfriend’s cheating on me with some guy she barely knows. I know because she told me about him after she met him at a club one night. Now, he’s calling our house and her pager and sending her emails all the time and it’s really starting to piss me off. I told my girlfriend she better not contact this guy anymore but she says she can’t just hang up or stop replying to his emails because it would be rude. I don’t care if it’s rude. How do I get her to stop?

Frank in Melbourne



Dear Heavy on the Urine:

I concur...

I don’t care if it’s rude either.

Neither does your girlfriend!


She’s just using that as an excuse so she can keep her young buck in the saddle in case you decide to bolt for the door. While we’re on the subject – why haven’t you told your girlfriend it’s time she found another place to live? How fat, bald and pathetic are you?

What can I say?

Silly lover, tarts aren’t just for dessert anymore.

Besides, it sounds to me like your trollop is enjoying all the attention she’s getting from the cheap seats. She met some stud at a club and thought nothing of tearing off her clothes at the first ‘come hither’ sign of his advances.

Given the situation, perhaps she even came on to him first. So before you go around blaming the other man in this equation for your girlfriend’s infidelities consider that he might not even know you exist. He might think he’s the only man in her life!

After all, I seriously doubt your live-in walked up to him and said something like “I’m with another man right now and I suppose I love him but he’s out for the evening so let me service you for the night. We could have some rough fun because I’m just that sort of ditch pig…so how about it, sweetie? Wanna rock?”

Gee, now how sexy is that?

I don’t understand men or women who stay in relationships after their partner comes to them with a confession of infidelity. I suppose you’re thinking to yourself ‘Well, at least she was honest enough to confide in me about what she did. I should respect that, right?’

WRONG!

Your girlfriend made a gross error in judgment. Her guilt – and her nerves – probably wore her down and she decided to let you in on her secret before you found out from somebody else. That doesn’t make her honest and it certainly doesn’t excuse her misguided bad behavior.

She doesn’t love you more because she told you what happened. She loves you even less, because now her minor trifle has become your major headache. You’re the one who’s consumed with jealousy over the emails, telephoning and paging her. Your girlfriend?…she just thinks it would be ‘impolite’ to refuse this guy’s advances.

Let me ask you this, Frank – how ‘impolite’ was it for her to go slumming with another while you were off working to pay the rent?

In my opinion, this person who currently shares your bed is not worthy of also sharing your life. She’s clearly discounted your relationship and doesn’t much care if you know that she’ll keep replying to the other guy’s messages.

In her mind – you and she are already a thing of the past. The only reason she’s still taking up space in your living room is because Don Juan hasn’t made a similar offer to her at his abode.

He didn’t want her to stay. He just used her for sex and now he’s calling to use her some more. Apparently, your girlfriend’s not only discounted the life you shared together, she’s also made herself a ‘pick n’ save’ for any horny son of a bartender who’s willing.

Your girlfriend finds that sort of perseverance pretty sexy. You should find it appalling!

Get rid of her now – today – this minute and don’t, under any circumstances, look back!

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic
@The Crabby Critic 2008 (all rights reserved).

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