Substance abuse pits family members against each other
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 35-year-old woman whose father refuses to get along with me no matter how hard I try. Our relationship was always strained due to the alcoholism he has struggled with since my childhood, made worse by the fact that I became an addict. I've been in recovery for a while, and I'm clean and sober now.
He and my mother took guardianship of my two sons, ages 12 and 7, because my disease rendered me unable to care for them at that time. I have mentioned getting my kids back after I acquire more clean time; neither of my parents wants that. I know Dad resents me deeply, both because he has my kids and also because of my addiction.
If I can forgive him for what his alcoholism has put me through, why can't he forgive me? I don't understand why he has to hate me. Believe me, he HATES me! I just want him to treat me the same way he treats my older brother and sister. I need help with this situation. Counseling is not an option; I know he will refuse.
— HURTING IN MICHIGAN
DEAR HURTING: A predisposition to addiction can run in families. I suspect that the person your father hates is himself, and that he saw a lot of himself in you while you were using. That you are now sober is a constant reminder of what a failure he is, which may be why he treats you the way he does.
While counseling for him may be out, it doesn't mean that you couldn't benefit from it. Please consider it. Although it won't make your father love you, it may help you to handle his unpleasantness more effectively. Once you have accumulated more clean time, regaining custody of your children may become a viable option, and something to discuss with a lawyer at that time.
DEAR ABBY: My wife has started slurping her food at dinner. I think it started after we returned from a vacation three months ago. I'm convinced she didn't do it before then because we have taken a couple of vacations recently where it would have been noticeable because of the quiet, intimate places in which we dined.
Because of the COVID quarantine, I realize that tensions can be heightened, and I have tried not to make too much of this. I am reluctant to speak up about it because during my first marriage, even the slightest noise when eating would upset my ex-wife, and I think it would be unfair for me to have the same pet peeve.
This may seem like I'm overly sensitive, but her slurping and heavy breathing every time she takes a bite, even with dry food, is making dinner time uncomfortable for me. I have pointed it out in a casual way, but it seems she is unaware of just how loudly she is eating. What can I do to reach a compromise on this?
— UNCOMFORTABLE DINER
DEAR DINER: While your sensitivity to this might be related to the problems you had with your first wife, because this is a recent change in your current wife's behavior, it should be checked out by her doctor. I am less concerned about her "slurping" than about the labored breathing you described when your wife is eating.
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