In-law strug­gles with al­co­holism

Santa Fe New Mexican - - TIME OUT -

Dear An­nie: My mother-in-law is a very good per­son deep down. She is a joy to be around — when she’s sober. But more and more lately, she is not. And when she’s not, she is hate­ful and vin­dic­tive and blames ev­ery­one else for her prob­lems. She has gone so far re­cently as to tell me some­thing hap­pened to my 2-year-old son when she was watch­ing him that would re­quire med­i­cal at­ten­tion — just to get me to leave work early and pick him up sooner than planned so she could start drink­ing. An­nie, there was noth­ing wrong at all with my son.

When­ever we call her out on her drink­ing, she spews hate­ful things at my hus­band and me. She threat­ens to cut him out of her will. She brings up things he did decades ago (be­fore he got smart and sobered up and stopped drink­ing), and she has phys­i­cally put her hands on me. (This was years ago, be­fore we knew she had a prob­lem; she was very good at hid­ing it.)

She now has the love of a man who is won­der­ful to her, un­like her for­mer hus­band of two decades, who cheated mul­ti­ple times on her. But she is even push­ing this man away and is hate­ful to­ward him when she’s drink­ing. On nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, we have had to cut her off from see­ing our sons be­cause she is choos­ing drink­ing over spend­ing time with them and us.

Of course, when we do this, we are the ones at fault, and she doesn’t have a prob­lem and doesn’t need help — and so on and so forth. I hate what this is do­ing to my hus­band, and my sons don’t un­der­stand why they can’t see her some­times. We have told the el­dest one (he’s 10) what the real sit­u­a­tion is, and it ab­so­lutely breaks his heart. Which I guess does ac­tu­ally lead me to a ques­tion: Why? Why is the pull to drink so strong that peo­ple will mess up per­fectly good re­la­tion­ships with friends and fam­ily? I un­der­stand that it is an ad­dic­tion, but why can’t she and oth­ers see what they are miss­ing out on and los­ing just to fill a void for only a lit­tle while? And why does she want to po­ten­tially kill her­self by drink­ing so much? Doesn’t her fu­ture mat­ter to her? I just don’t un­der­stand, and I guess I never will. I know that only she can choose to help her­self and that she will only do so if and when she’s ready. But the pain that we are go­ing through right now will in­evitably be­come ir­re­versible. And I don’t want that — for my hus­band, my sons or me. Thank you for tak­ing the time to read this. — De­pressed Daugh­ter-in-Law of a Drinker

Dear De­pressed Daugh­terin-Law of a Drinker: Iamso sorry that you’re go­ing through this. To ask “Why?” is to try to as­cribe ra­tio­nale where there is none. The disease of al­co­holism does not op­er­ate on log­i­cal terms.

I urge you to at­tend an Al-Anon Fam­ily Groups meet­ing. I think you’ll find it can be a great re­lief just to be in a room full of peo­ple who know ex­actly what you’re go­ing through. The meet­ings are free and anony­mous; you don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. And if you don’t like your first meet­ing, don’t give up. Al-Anon rec­om­mends try­ing at least six dif­fer­ent meet­ings be­fore de­cid­ing that the pro­gram isn’t for you. Visit https://al-anon.org to find a meet­ing near you. It just might change your life. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­nie@cre­ators.com. To find out more about An­nie Lane and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate colum­nists and car­toon­ists, visit the Cre­ators Syn­di­cate web­site at www. cre­ators.com.

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