Dear Annie: Concerned about enabling alcoholic friend
Dear Annie: This is another letter about an alcoholic woman. I believe the people around her are enabling her drinking. They don’t catch on because she has convinced them and herself that her drinking is cool and sophisticated. Drinking liberates her, makes her the life of the party and the center of attention, which she craves. She says she handles life’s stress with humor, but in reality, she handles life’s stress with alcohol. She is not real anymore. I don’t know who she is, and I worry about the effect on her children.
She denies she has a problem and drinks all the more to prove herself right. And they laugh and devour her all the more. To those people, I say please, if you are truly her friend, look closely at the symptoms: Does she always have a glass of wine in her hand? Does she drink every day, and at every chance? Does she constantly joke about having a drink during times of stress? Look closely at her posts on social media, for they are very telling.
Please don’t ignore her need for help just so you can be one of her friends. Stop laughing and sharing jokes about her drinking. Stop covering up for her when she turns into a beast after the party is over. Stop treating her as though you are stepping on eggshells. Stop trying to hide it. Stop walking around the elephant in the room. Stop enabling her.
If you can’t find the words to question her, put this message in a letter, and send it anonymously, along with your love. Maybe, just maybe, our messages will end her denial. Please be a true friend. — Concerned
Dear Concerned: While you do sound like a concerned friend, you also sound like a very judgmental one. At this point, the best way to be a friend is to listen with compassionate ears. Consider going to an Al-Anon meeting for friends and family members of alcoholics. When your friend is ready, she will hopefully start attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The next letter offers a message of hope.
Dear Annie: I have been sober for six years, and that letter from the husband to his wife could have been written by my husband when I was drinking. I had read similar letters written to me, and they only made me want to get drunk. The guilt and shame resulting from drinking alcohol are devastating, and without tools, an alcoholic can only drink more to cope.
It sounded as if the writer has attended Al-Anon or similar meetings, and that is wonderful. That is the best thing he can do — the children as well. As for the wife, when she is ready, I would suggest AA. I had thought AA would make me stop drinking and be even more miserable. I was wrong. When I finally became hopeless enough to listen to the organization’s message, I received the tools to stay sober and the gifts to make being sober become the best thing I have ever done.
My husband and I divorced, but I am working hard to make amends to him and my children, and we have good relationships now. — A Grateful Alcoholic
Dear Grateful Alcoholic: Congratulations on your six years of sobriety, and thank you for your letter. My hope is that it touches others who are struggling to seek the support they need and deserve.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now. Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.