January 1, 2022

DEAR READERS: Welcome to 2022! 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 2022 bring with it good health, peace and joy to all of us. 

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.
March 21, 2021

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a functioning alcoholic for more than 30 years. He was once funny and nice and a good dad. But over the years he has become unbearable to live with. He doesn't shower or brush his teeth. He was always mainly a beer drinker, but now he is drinking hard liquor and stays drunk most of the time he is awake.
    I told him I thought he was depressed and a severe alcoholic, and he should talk to his doctor, but he refuses. I am pretty sure he is drinking on the job, and I'm scared he will hurt himself. I am ready to leave him, but afraid that if I do, he will be completely lost.

DEAR LOST: You don't need me to tell you that your husband is in bad shape. I don't know what his job involves, but if he's interacting with others, I am surprised he can get away with having such poor hygiene and being stoned on alcohol.
    Because he refuses to talk to his doctor about this, you should. I hope you are beginning to realize that you cannot "save" him.  I have mentioned Al-Anon many times in my column. The organization is an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous and was started to help families and friends of individuals who are unable to control their drinking. Find one by going to al-anon.org/info.
There are many more Dear Abby articles dealing with alcoholism.

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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.
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.
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.