A breakdown in logic.

Dear Annie: I don’t know how to begin, so I’ll just start by saying that after my father passed away 20 years ago, my sisters abandoned me. At my father’s funeral, my oldest sister told me out loud, in front of my other sisters, that they are never going to speak to me again since my protector (my dad) is gone.

We had just laid our father in his grave, and the pain of losing him was intense, and I was sobbing. She told me that my tears were fake and to stop because nobody cares.

None of my sisters kept in touch until my sister “Alice” was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I begged to come see Alice, and I was allowed. Since I was separated from my husband at the time, I offered to be her caregiver, and she was so pleased. I took care of her until she passed away, six months later. Immediately after her funeral, I was right back to being abandoned again.

I tried to keep in touch. I made sure to send Christmas cards to the ones for whom I had contact information, but I received no reply. Later, I got blocked, as their address had changed.

Now we’re all in our 60s and 70s, and I kept hoping that our relationships would change, but they have not. I’ve been divorced for 10 years, and my sisters don’t care to check on me.

I miss my sisters very much and can’t let them go. I can’t remove them from my heart or thoughts. — Abandoned in Vegas

Dear Abandoned in Vegas: I am so sorry for your loss — not only the loss of your father and sister but the loss of your relationship with your other sisters as well. Your oldest sister harbors long-term resentment toward you, and your other sisters are following her lead. I would suggest starting with one of your sisters who you feel closest to and letting her know how much you love and miss her.

You can’t control how she or any of your other sisters will react, but you can control how to communicate your love for them. Good luck. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com

Oh, Annie Lane!

First of all, looking at this part:

Your oldest sister harbors long-term resentment toward you, and your other sisters are following her lead.

I don’t know if I believe that. I think it’s very possible that the older sister is the spokesperson for all of them. Even if she isn’t, and Annie Lane is correct that the others are blind sheep, then who wants to have a close relationship with people who kowtow to their oldest sister to the point of cruelly abandoning the letter writer? Annie Lane almost makes it sound as if following the leader is a justification for such cruelty. Geez Louise.

And that premise of hers leads to this advice:

I would suggest starting with one of your sisters who you feel closest to and letting her know how much you love and miss her.

Okay, Annie Lane, let’s have a little talk. She’s tried that. She’s sent cards. She no longer has their addresses. She has no way to reach out.

Even if that weren’t the case, there’s a point of cruelty that you should quit being blindly forgiving of. Good grief.

You can’t control how she or any of your other sisters will react, but you can control how to communicate your love for them.

She has been controlling how she communicates her love for them. Gracious saints to Betsy, Annie Lane. What she actually needs to control is her feelings. She’s overly sentimental. What I sense is that she might be lonely. She needs friends. You know, the good kind who won’t mistreat her like this.

When I was younger, I had bad friends. They were snobby and stuck on themselves and shallow. I wanted us to be friends forever, because I believed that only friendships forged while growing up have any longevity or value. I was wrong about that (and thank God!), but I kept trying to make things work with those friends, long beyond it was obvious that those relationships were dead, because I couldn’t believe that there were better people out there, and that not all friendships have to go way back. I’m glad, really glad, that I finally walked away from those people. And now I do have wonderful friends who love me for me. (Shout out!)

I think that can also apply to family members. If she can just find better friends, then she won’t be so hurt by her sisters’ cruelty. I think she might be at the mercy of her own loneliness here. That’s never good. This letter writer needs to do everything–and I do mean everything–possible to get some good friends in her life. As for her sisters… [shaking my head]… no. Just no.

Well, let’s check out Annie Lane’s next letter here. Maybe Annie Lane will deal with the important issues of today!

Dear Annie: Lately, I see so many emails from grandparents who are wondering how to deal with grandchildren who fail to acknowledge gifts, and my heart breaks for them […]

Or not.

Oh well, forget that. Let’s take a look at yesterday’s column! Maybe it has some good content.

Dear Annie: I need some advice on how to approach my older sister about how both she and her husband conduct themselves at family gatherings. They feel entitled to anything my parents have.

The first thing you have to know about them is that they are nearly 40 years old, yet they still act like children. They heavily rely on my parents financially and have no real drive to better themselves.

For instance, my parents own a lake house and a beach rental that my sister always seems to call dibs on whenever my parents announce they will not be using them that weekend. That by itself is not bad, but it’s the way that they go about it and the way they treat other people’s belongings that becomes annoying. They have literally caused thousands of dollars of damage on multiple occasions, but they never even dream of paying back my parents.

They also love claiming whole weekends as soon as they know my parents will not be there, and then they invite their other grown-up children friends to “party” and take advantage of my parents’ good nature. I think this has not gone unnoticed by my parents, but they have always enabled her and keep letting her do whatever she wants.

My sister and her husband are also the cheapest people on the planet, but they have no problem spending my parents’ money or taking advantage of any situation that my parents afford them. At family gatherings, they have this habit of getting sloppy drunk and making fools of themselves.

This involves both of them draining nice bottles of wine that my parents put out for everyone. My brother-in-law will take half a bottle in his glass and then joke about wanting to make sure he gets the good wine. My sister is the exact same way, and she will empty bottles so fast that my parents, or anyone else, can barely get a glass before it is gone.

I would love nothing more than to call them both out the next time they do this, but I don’t want to be the one to ruin Christmas (where I know this will happen again). When facing any criticism, my sister will scream and cry like a toddler, so it has always been hard to approach her about anything she needs to change.

How would you tell someone like that to grow up and think of someone other than herself? I’ve talked about this with my parents and know that the whole situation annoys them, too, but they still enable her and allow her to act the way she does. — Fed-Up Younger Brother

Dear Younger Brother: Wow, it is very understandable that you are fed up with your sister and brother-in-law. To say their behavior is childish, selfish and rude is an understatement. But in order for the behavior to change, the real people who have to get truly fed up are your parents. It is their wine and their lake and beach house that your sister and brother-in-law are taking advantage of. Maybe you need to have a family meeting or some sort of an intervention.

Getting sloppy drunk and taking advantage of your parents in their 40s can’t do much for their self-esteem. My guess is that, deep down, your sister and brother-in-law are probably not very happy and probably need some help instead of judgement about all of their terrible behaviors.

Think of your family as a team that needs to work together, and two of your teammates are really hurting the rest of the team through their self-destructive actions.

Oh, Annie Lane! Really!

This is appalling. I’m on board with her advice at the beginning, until she recommends the intervention. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that spectacle! (“Susie, hand Mommy the wine. You have a problem.” And, “No! You can’t pry this wine out of my cold, dead hands, you foul woman! I hate you!”) And her second paragraph is beyond idiotic. These are not unhappy people. They’re immature people. There’s a difference. I’m not saying there’s never any overlap, but here it doesn’t apply.

At least Annie Lane didn’t suggest that they’re secretly mentally ill. It’s a pet peeve of mine to confuse gross immaturity with mental illness. But I don’t think these people are unhappy, either. They’re getting their way with everything! They can do whatever they want!

Maybe what Annie Lane means is that the rest of us, who aren’t total users who take and take and take from others, wouldn’t be happy living that way. I for one wouldn’t want to keep taking advantage of my mom’s vacation home by trashing it and doing several thousand dollars worth of damage. I’m sure most people feel the same way. But Annie Lane’s logic is flawed. No, it wouldn’t make me happy to live that way. But from that we cannot assume that people who choose to live that way are unhappy.

I’m almost certain of this. In college logic class, we learned things like:

If [A then B] is always true, then is [not A then not B] always true? 

And the answer is no.

Like, if all the boys in a classroom have brown hair, you could say, if the student in that classroom is a boy, then he has brown hair. (If A then B.) That would be true. But if the student wasn’t a boy but a girl, then you can’t assume that she won’t have brown hair. (Not A then not B.) For example. Maybe several of the girls also have brown hair like the boys.

There’s a similar logical breakdown in Annie Lane’s belief that these people must secretly be unhappy. In reality, being immature is what makes them happy! They’re bad people. Annie Lane’s too naive to understand that there are some people out there who lack morals. I’ve encountered such people. They walk among us. There’s not a darned thing that this letter writer can do but attend some Al-Anon meetings, which I can’t believe Annie Lane didn’t recommend. I thought she’d mastered referrals, but I guess not. He should also just avoid these family members. I know I sure would.

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