DAWN of ANOTHER YEAR BRINGS
OPPORTUNITIES TO BEGIN ANEW
DEAR READERS: Welcome to 2015!
If the last year was challenging for some of us, a new one has arrived, bringing with it our chance for a new beginning.
Today is the day we have an opportunity to discard destructive old habits for healthy new ones, and with that in mind, I will share Dear Abby's often-requested list of New Year's Resolutions, which were adapted by my late mother, Pauline Phillips, from the original credo of Al-Anon:
JUST FOR TODAY: I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once.
I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will accept what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things that I can correct and accept those I cannot.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I'll not speak ill of others. I will improve my appearance, speak softly, and not interrupt when someone else is talking.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will refrain from improving anybody but myself.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will do something positive to improve my health. If I'm a smoker, I'll quit. If I am overweight, I will eat healthfully -- if only just for today. And not only that, I will get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it's only around the block.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions.
And now, Dear Readers, I would like to share an item that was sent to me by L.J. Bhatia, a reader from New Delhi, India:
DEAR ABBY: This year, no resolutions, only some guidelines. The Holy Vedas say, "Man has subjected himself to thousands of self-inflicted bondages. Wisdom comes to a man who lives according to the true eternal laws of nature."
The prayer of St. Francis (of which there are several versions) contains a powerful message:
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
"Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
"Where there is injury, pardon;
"Where there is doubt, faith;
"Where there is despair, hope;
"Where there is darkness, light;
"And where there is sadness, joy.
"O Divine Master,
"Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
"To be understood, as to understand;
"To be loved, as to love;
"For it is in giving that we receive,
"It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
"And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
And so, Dear Readers, may this new year bring with it good health, peace and joy to all of you.
-- LOVE, ABBY
12 STEPS MAY BE NECESSARY TO
MOVE RELATIONSHIP TO NEXT LEVEL
DEAR ABBY: "Bill" and I have gone together for three years. He's a wonderful, sweet man who has never raised his voice to me. We have talked about taking our relationship to the next level. I'm hesitant because I suspect he's a high-functioning alcoholic.
Bill doesn't seem to crave a drink when he's with me, but he does crave being in bars in the company of men who sit for hours over drinks and then get out on the Interstate. I don't want to be his mother or his hall monitor, but I have begun to suspect I shadow his denial. I'm afraid I have become his enabler.
We are in our early retirement years and the thought that his drinking will get worse has made me afraid. I love Bill. I can't seem to move forward, yet I resist walking away.
We have discussed my feelings many times, and he says he has cut down the amount he drinks and there's nothing to worry about. Yet, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. -- SICK FEELING IN TEXAS
DEAR SICK FEELING: Listen to your intuition. I don't know how often Bill "craves" the company of men who sit for hours in bars becoming increasingly inebriated, but if it is more than "occasionally," then I agree you may have cause for concern.
Because of the language in your letter, it appears you are already familiar with alcoholism and how it affects relationships. It would be a good idea for you to attend some Al-Anon meetings before your relationship with Bill goes further because he may be in denial about the importance of alcohol in his life. The meetings are easy to find; Al-Anon is listed in your phone directory and can be found at al-anon.org.
FIANCE'S DRUNKEN BOUTS
MAY BE MORE FREQUENT
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating the greatest man I've ever met in my life for three years. "Jared" has wonderful kids and a successful career. He's handsome and is kind to me, my kids and my family. We enjoy each other immensely, and we are now engaged.
We are social drinkers, but about once a year Jared gets incredibly intoxicated and changes into the most horrible person I have ever seen. It's all verbal yelling -- nothing physical -- but it's still inexcusable. After an "episode" he is guilt-ridden and apologetic for weeks. I believe he's sincere, but it has made me rethink our engagement. He had an episode a week ago -- the third during the time we've been together.
Our kids are close and care about each other. I love Jared, but if I have to endure another instance of this I don't think I can go through with the marriage. I'm still angry about the last bout, and he's still guilt-ridden. How do I approach this? -- CONFLICTED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR CONFLICTED: The first thing to do is make it your business to attend some Al-Anon meetings. When you do, you'll soon realize that the behavior Jared is exhibiting can escalate.
While Jared may be able to handle his liquor 364 days a year (now), what happens on that 365th is a deal-breaker. Unless you want to spend your life worrying every time Jared picks up a glass who he will be when he puts the glass down, draw the line now. Tell him the person he becomes during these "episodes" is a stranger you have no desire to have anything to do with -- ever -- and if he can't guarantee that you will never see that person again, the marriage is off. Of course, this will mean the end of his social drinking and probably yours. If what you have together is as special as you say, it is only a small sacrifice.
Be prepared, because he will probably deny he has a problem. Unless you want to become a miserable nervous wreck, you must not relent. The explosion, the guilt, the "honeymoon" period afterward are similar to the cycle of domestic violence, so be aware of that.
DRINKING BECOMES A PROBLEM FOR WIFE PRESSURED TO IMBIBE
DEAR ABBY: I'm not much of a drinker. I have nothing against drinking or those who do. I just do not like the taste of alcohol. Worse, I have a very low tolerance for it. After only half a glass of wine, I become so sleepy I can barely keep my eyes open. It makes me feel physically awful.
My husband takes offense to the fact that I don't want to drink. When we're out with friends, he'll have three or four beers and pressure me to the point of embarrassment in front of them until I finally give in and order a glass of wine. Of course, I then spend the rest of the evening feeling terrible. When we get home, he'll want to be intimate, but I just want to go to sleep, which aggravates him further.
I have tried for several years to discuss this with him, but he can't explain why he does this. What can I do? -- JUST WATER, PLEASE
DEAR JUST WATER: Your husband is a drinker. He may be self-conscious about the amount he imbibes and feels less so if he has a drinking buddy (that's you), willing or not. To say the least, his behavior is inconsiderate -- and I mean all of it.
When someone is involved with a problem drinker, and from your description of his behavior your husband is one, the place to start looking for answers is Al-Anon. To find a meeting close to you, go online to al-anon.org. Please don't wait.
MOM WITH SECRET ADDICTION IS PLAYING DANGEROUS GAME
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and I caught my mom sniffing nail polish remover. She obviously doesn't want me to know because she tries to hide it. I don't know what to do. I don't know why she would want to do this. It's something people MY age would do. I know better than to do that. Should I talk to her about it? She'll probably make up some excuse like she likes the smell. She sometimes tells me I need to grow up because I can act silly. But honestly, SHE is the one who needs to grow up. I want to help her because I know what she's doing is not good for her. But how? -KNOWS HER SECRET IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR KNOWS: Your mother may have an acetone addiction. Because you can't convince her to take your concerns seriously, tell another adult ASAP what's going on - a relative, your father if he's in the picture, a teacher or counselor at school. This kind of inhalant addiction is serious because in high concentrations, acetone is a nervous system depressant. This means it can slow a person's heartbeat, respiration and metabolism, causing a person to become dizzy, confused and pass out. It can also damage the vital organs - the heart, liver, kidneys and the bone marrow - and cause cardiac arrest and death. A support group for the children off addicts, such as Alateen, could give you emotional support. To find one, visit al-anon.org.