Dear Abby: My brother dated an alcoholic for years. “Jenny’s” drinking progressively worsened to the point we could no longer have a conversation with her. She was a sloppy, emotional drunk and lied about her drinking to my brother. He finally became unhappy and recently broke off the relationship. His adult children, our dad, my husband and I are supporting him and encouraging him toward more healthy relationships. We are proud of him for making this move.
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.
Dear Abby: My mother, who died recently, wasn’t subtle about favoring my younger sister. My sister, “June,” is grief-stricken and talks about our mother positively — a lot. Our mother was cruel to me at times, and June knows it, but she continues to talk glowingly about her. I want to say to her, “She may have been an angel to YOU, but she was a b—— to me my entire life,” but, of course, I don’t. I would just like to forget all about her.
When June does this, I usually remain silent. I want to be supportive, but at the same time, I think my feelings are important and should be respected. What should I do?
Grieving Less in Wisconsin
Dear Grieving Less: When your sister starts up about what a wonderful mother your abuser was, remind her, as tactfully as you can, that you didn’t benefit from the same treatment. Then express that, while you sympathize with her loss, you no longer wish to discuss your mother with her. If she needs to vent about her sadness and loss, she should do it with other relatives or close friends or join a grief support group as many people do. After that, if she raises the subject again — as she may — shift the topic to something else.
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.