Ask Amy: Addiction creates friendship dilemma

Tribune Media ServicesMarch 26, 2013 

DEAR AMY: I recently reconnected with an old boyfriend. It seemed so perfect at first.

Well, over time I've come to realize he's an alcoholic and addicted to pain pills. He's on edge when he's not medicating himself, which causes me to be on edge, and I know beneath it all is unresolved depression.

We've become very close and he told me he trusts me more than anyone else in his life. I've also become close to his mother, who has accepted me like a daughter.

Although I know this wise woman has an idea about her son's condition, I don't know if she knows how bad off he is. When we spoke recently, I felt she was on a fishing expedition, but I only spoke of her son in vague terms out of loyalty to him. Part of me wants to tell her the truth, and another part of me wants to spare this 80-year-old woman more worry.

When I expressed my concern about his drinking, he got angry, denied he has a problem and was highly defensive. He's not ready to get help.

I will hang in there and be his friend (I'm all he has right now), but I won't let him drag me down. I'm not the co-dependent type. What should I do? — Out of My League

DEAR OUT: Regardless of how you see yourself, you are the co-dependent type. You have set yourself up as the only person your guy can depend on. You have also "diagnosed" him (perhaps correctly). But really, he is the only person he can truly depend on, and when he realizes that his addictions are running the show, he may choose to get help.

The first thing an addict needs is the truth. His addiction is making a true, loving and peaceful relationship with you impossible. Behave like a trustworthy friend and tell him, "You are an addict; please get help." It's not at all surprising that this news flash will make him angry and defensive — his house of cards topples when faced with this reality.

Continue to be a supportive friend to his mother. You would both benefit from the lessons conveyed in Al-Anon or a similar "friends of" group. Check al-anon.alateen.org for a local meeting.

DEAR AMY: My 27-year-old son and his wife are expecting our first grandchild this summer. I am over the moon. As a gift for the baby, I made a beautiful, meaningful patchwork quilt.

Not only did I not receive a "thanks" or "I like it," but I was told that I would need to run any further gifts past them to make sure they would need it. My son went on to say that they do not have a lot of extra space to store blankets.

This quilt was made with only one thing in mind — showing my grandchild how much I care. How should I handle my feelings of rejection and disappointment? Do I continue to send gifts with the hope that they meet parental approval?

Or should I send gifts of cash, which I am loath to do. — Quilter in a Quagmire

DEAR QUILTER: I can understand how disappointed you must feel, but you have spun this disappointment into a massive dilemma about gift giving. You might be someone who wraps your considerable positive and powerful feelings into quilts, gifts and other material things. This abundance of kindness can create unintended pressure for a couple who haven't even become parents yet.

You should determine to give this new baby the most important thing of all — an easy and loving relationship with you. Nothing further is required.

DEAR AMY: Like "Doting Daughter's" father, I'm an angry, raging man. A lot of us don't know the affect of our anger on people. Letting them know is the first step. The reader is being the best daughter she can be and furthermore is helping her mother live a happy life.

I would give anything to take back just one tirade or outburst directed at the ones I love, but I'm doing everything I can to change. — Mark

DEAR MARK: Thank you for your honesty; I applaud your efforts to change.

(Send questions via e-mail to askamytribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.) 

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