January 1, 2023

DEAR READERS: Welcome to 2023! A new year has arrived, and we leave the last one behind. As always, this new year brings with it our hopes for a new beginning.

Today presents 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 decide to 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. And 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, allow me 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 2023 bring with it good health, peace and joy to all of us. 
-- LOVE, ABBY
HUSBAND'S DRINKING HAS BECOME CONCERNING 
March 12, 2022

DEAR ABBY: I am writing because I'm concerned about my husband's drinking. We have been married for 35 years and we love each other very much. He drinks at least a six-pack a day. Although he doesn't appear to be intoxicated, I know this has to mean he is an alcoholic. Because he doesn't drink and drive, he thinks this is fine. Besides being unhealthy and giving him a huge beer gut, it's expensive. Your thoughts, please. -- CONCERNED WIFE IN GEORGIA

Dear Wife:  Schedule your and your husband's annual medical checkups, regardless of how long they may have been delayed. Before you go in, the doctor should be informed that your beloved hubby imbibes a six-pack per day - at the very least. Whether this will motivate the doctor to encourage him to quit or cut back is anybody's guess, but I am hopeful.

You could benefit from attending some Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous that helps the families and friends of individuals who have an alcohol problem. I am sure if you do, you will not only find it enlightening, but also beneficial for the practical advice and emotional support it offers. Go to al-anon.org/info for more information.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O.Box 69440 Los Angeles, CA 90069.
STRESS AND ADICTIONS ARE TAKING OVER
October 26, 2022

DEAR ABBY: I had a hard time during the COVID pandemic. I'm a stress eater but got that under control years ago. However, over the last year, I've been having issues with stress drinking. I sneak many shots of whisky or vodka. I'm lucky it has only been at midday and no driving was involved, but I have had a few blackouts.

My husband of 35-plus years (we're both retired) has no inkling I have this problem. In the past he has said he can control it, so I can, too. He feels the same about our weight. I walk four miles and work out every day and eat healthy, but I can't lose weight. He can, at the drop of a hat. I need advice. -- HURTING RETIREE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR RETIREE: First it was food, now it's alcohol. If you want to conquer your compulsive behavior, it's important that you figure out what's causing the stress that's triggering it. Because your husband can control his appetites does not automatically mean that you are able to. It may take help from your doctor or a licensed therapist to conquer your tendency toward addiction. Once you quit sneaking those shots of booze on a daily basis, I suspect you will notice a marked change in your weight.
There are many more Dear Abby articles dealing with alcoholism.
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​MOM REMAINS CHUMMY WITH SON'S EX
January 9, 2022

DEAR ABBY:  The challenge is our mom, who is a daily drinker. She misses her drinking buddy and continues to hang out with Jenny. My brother has told Mom it makes it harder for him to make a clean break, but she continues to meet regularly with Jenny.

I told Mom I have chosen not to contact Jenny because it hurts my brother. Mom responded that she will continue to see her, and that they don't talk about my brother (not true), so she can't understand the problem. Are we unfair for preferring a clean break for everyone? -- GOING FORWARD IN THE WEST

DEAR GOING FORWARD: You are not unfair, but this isn't your decision. It is your brother's and your mother's. Of course she doesn't want to give up her drinking buddy! You stated that she drinks every day. One of the warning signs of alcoholism is when someone's drinking disrupts relationships. Your mother's drinking is now negatively affecting her relationship with her husband, her son and you.

Because it appears she's unwilling to give up her drinking and gossip sessions with Jenny, it might be helpful for the rest of you to attend some Al-Anon meetings and learn to cope with this. You will find meetings are available online and almost everywhere if you visit al-anon.org/info.
HUSBAND'S DRINKING PUTS FAMILY AT RISK AND MARRIANGE IN DOUBT
May 24, 2022

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 20 years has had DUIs in the past. He has always been a binge drinker when socializing. He has been going out once a week after work for three hours, during which he drinks and then drives home. He tells me he has a couple beers, but his tab and his face tell a different story.

We have three teenagers who see his behavior, and it sets a bad example. My other worry is that he may take the kids somewhere after he gets home from his weekly outing. I have instructed them not to let Dad take them anywhere on Wednesdays (his regular bar day). I have also asked him not to drive them anywhere on Wednesdays. I make sure I work from home on that day, but all of this doesn't seem like enough, and I want him to stop.

I have thought about divorce for this and other reasons, but I worry his drinking would get worse. I've also considered doing an intervention with family. I'm at the end of my rope and ready to do something, but what is the next step? -- REACHED MY LIMIT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR REACHED: Step one should be to attend some Al-Anon meetings. This is an organization founded to help the friends and families of someone with an alcohol problem, which it appears your husband has. Those meetings will give you perspective. Your next step will be to figure out what divorce may mean for you and your children financially. Once you have that information, tell your husband -- while he is sober and you are calm -- that you have reached your limit and, unless he is willing to quit drinking, you are going to leave him. See how he reacts and, if nothing changes, follow through.
ABUSIVE HUSBAND MANIPULATES WIFE, KIDS LIVING IN SHELTER
June 30th, 2022

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of two small children. I have separated from their verbally abusive, alcoholic father. I returned to my grandmother, who raised me, and tried to get a job. I couldn't find one quickly because we went into quarantine and my uncles made me move out.
I currently live in a women's shelter with my children, and I finally got a job. My problem is my husband still acts like we are getting back together, and he's embarrassed that we are living here. I want a divorce, but he won't talk about it, and threatens not to send money to support me and the children. He doesn't send much, but I have enough gas to get everywhere during the week.
He keeps telling me how much money he makes now and that he can get us a nice place where he is, or he can come stay a whole week with us when he's off. I don't want him to come stay with us. When I tell him this, he gets angry and hangs up, but then calls back the next day to say the same thing. I can't get him to understand that I don't want to be with him anymore, and I'm tired of his abuse. (The last time I lived with him, he "accidentally" knocked our son into the couch and walked out.) He won't admit he has a problem. Any advice? -- DONE FOR GOOD

DEAR DONE: Your husband persists the way he has been because he's trying to wear you down to the point that you will reunite with him. Perhaps you should accept fewer of those phone calls. If there are social workers connected to the shelter you're staying in, consult them about your predicament.
Your husband cannot shirk paying child support. If he doesn't do it voluntarily, his wages can be garnished. While you're at it, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) because they may have useful suggestions about how to rid yourself of your abusive, alcoholic husband.

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​RELATIONSHIP WITH MOTHER HAS ALWAYS BEEN REVERSED
October 2, 2022

DEAR ABBY: My mother and I have a relationship that isn't healthy. I know that may make me seem like a terrible person, but hear me out.

I was never "allowed" to be a child. For as long as I can remember, I have taken care of her because she refuses to grow up. My father wasn't in the picture. I thought that when I grew up and moved out, she would make some lifestyle changes, but she never did. I'm constantly having to put my life and plans on hold to cater to her needs.

She won't keep a job, she's an alcoholic and, above all, she has it in her mind that she's been a great mother and now it's her time to "live for herself." Abby, she's the most selfish person I have ever known!

My fiance and I are trying to embark on a life of our own, but I can't move ahead because I'm constantly worrying about her. I love her, and she will always be my mother, but I can't keep this up or I will never be able to live my life. What should I do? -- MAKING CHANGES IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR MAKING CHANGES: It may take the help of a licensed mental health professional to separate emotionally from your mother. She has not only turned you into HER parent, she appears to be in denial about two things -- her parental abilities and her drinking. You cannot resolve these issues for her.

You and your fiance should absolutely start concentrating on the life you are trying to build together, and do it as geographically distant from her as you can manage. This is called "emancipation," and do not expect her to like you for doing it.
There are many more Dear Abby articles dealing with alcoholism.