Like mother, like son

Joey Garcia

I am worried about my 38-year-old brother. Our mother is extremely controlling and runs his life. She disapproves of all the women he dates, insists he check in with her daily by phone and cajoles him into going on vacation with her and my dad. He is a successful professional. He has never married and is not likely to. He wants a relationship, but she never likes the women he likes, and he doesn’t like the woman she picked out for him. How can I help my brother see that he’ll never have a life until he gets her out of his?

I understand that you want to rescue your brother from your mamasita. The problem is that he has not yelled for help. Until he does, you’re simply meddling in his life, trying to shape it according to your concept of perfection. And that makes you behave a lot like your mother. (It happens to all of us, honey. Don’t freak out.)

I suggest you investigate why you’re so motivated to meddle. If, for example, you realize that competing against your mother is exhilarating, you can address your own childhood issues with her. That way your brother can continue with his own life, which he seems to enjoy, even though you disapprove.

How do you repair a once-friendly business relationship? I had a disagreement with a colleague a year ago, and she has never treated me the same. We argued over a pending company policy that was eventually changed. Both of us sat on the committee reviewing the policy, but neither of us got what we really wanted (although she says I got my way). I miss her input on my projects. What can I do to make nice?

Search your conscience. Did you say or do anything to justify her distance? If so, make reparations immediately in a note to her. Follow that with a conversation telling her how much you miss her opinions on your work and what you learned from her in the past. Then give her space to decide what she wants from the relationship. And remember, it’s possible that the distance you feel has nothing to do with the committee incident you describe. There may be changes in her life outside of work that have influenced her actions on the job.

I wanted to let you know that the advice in your column “The Disney trap” (Ask Joey, October 5) was the truth, mainly because I have experienced that truth. I have been studying The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck. The infatuation you cogently point out is what he termed cathexis. Interestingly, I have learned that cathexis is a self-serving act. Therefore, it is not love even though, outwardly, it shares similar characteristics. Just as you stated, love is a choice and an action and is separate from infatuation (a truth echoed in 1 Corinthians in the Bible). It is a choice because we extend ourselves willingly for the benefit of the person whom we love.

Through your advice and through my own research, I have learned what genuine love is. I have learned that I will not be capable of loving anyone until I can love and accept myself. You have been an invaluable resource to me, and I pray that you continue to be one.

Thank you!

Meditation of the week
“The difference between a comedy and a tragedy,” writes Bennett W. Goodspeed, “is that in a comedy the characters figure out reality in time to do something about it.” Shall we label your life a comedy? Or a tragedy?

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