Dear Readers: Many of you were touched by the husband "Anonymous," who wrote a letter about the loss of his wife to the disease of alcoholism. She is still alive, but the woman he married was a different person than the one who is an alcoholic. Most recommended Al-Anon, a spin-off from Alcoholics Anonymous that focuses on helping people who are suffering because of a loved one's drinking problem. Here is just a sampling of letters in support of Al-Anon, which I heartily support:
Dear Annie: My heart went out to the suffering husband, "Anonymous," for the despair that he felt because of his wife's alcoholism. I am a widow and was married for 44 years to an alcoholic. I would highly recommend that "Anonymous" attend Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is a highly effective recovery program for anyone who has a problem with someone else's drinking. Al-Anon offered me a lifeline of sanity and serenity that had eroded through years of living with an alcoholic. Even though I no longer have alcoholics in my life, I happily continue to practice this program in all my affairs. — Been There
Dear Annie: I just finished reading the letter in today's paper concerning the husband whose wife is in the downward spiral of alcoholism. I, too, was in the downward spiral of alcoholism. I wanted to control or quit my drinking, but the addiction was too strong. I just about destroyed my family.
My wonderful wife talked to some Al-Anon members concerning my drinking and behavior. Because she loves me, she followed their advice, and, because she did, I took my last drink on the evening of Feb. 20, 1985. Al-Anon members take no prisoners. Because my wife decided to go to Al-Anon, I am alive today. We have been married for 55 years, and I have no desire to drink. My suggestion is for the husband to get involved with the Al-Anon program. — One Day at a Time
Dear Readers: Thank you again for recommending Al-Anon and telling your stories. There was one reader with a different perspective, and her letter follows:
Dear Annie: It was apparent to me that this letter by "Anonymous" is only about the writer and his supposed problems. There was no real mention of the alcoholic, her name, her feelings, her circumstances or even her supposed crimes or attempts at healing, just judgment, blame, self-pity and latent sexism.
Who could live with that pathetic, emotional mess, cold sober, all those Hank Williams men with broken hearts? Why is his letter about his changed world, when she is the one at medical risk?
My father was an alcoholic, and my mother hated him for it; she set up unrealistic white-knuckle abstention goals and denied the medical care and the true emotional understanding involved in treating an alcoholic. Her denial drove him to unattainable perfection: to work and make more money and be sober. Nothing was ever enough. Once the love dried up, there was not much comfort for him but that booze.
My mother was "obviously" in the right because she did not drink. Her righteousness was unassailable. But hers was the cold heart, and he died from it. She is now happily alive on the enormous fortune he left her from his hard work, which he was able to execute with his drinking.
Poor Mr. Anonymous has a whole lot of AA meetings to attend before he is in the position to change his circumstances. — She Needs a Voice
Dear She Needs a Voice: Thank you for sharing your perspective. Clearly, your resentment of your mother's treatment of your father is eating away at you. Please read the letters that preceded yours and check out Al-Anon. You are likely to find love and support in the meetings.
"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. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]