DEAR AMY: I have a male friend who is recently retired. He fits the description of an alcoholic. His day revolves around buying and consuming beer. He cannot function without it.
Heís a decent enough sort in the morning, but once noon rolls around he becomes a slurring mess. He doesnít seem to think there is a problem and rebuffs my suggestions of AA or other help. He can be very demanding and needy, and heís wearing me out.
He phones a lot; sometimes I answer, sometimes I donít. He wants me to visit, drive him somewhere, go shopping, etc., and I do have a life of my own, but he tries to monopolize it, and I am really fed up and getting resentful.
Iíve tried talking to him about cleaning up his life, but he doesnít seem interested. I have not yet said I will have to step away from this ďfriendship,Ē but I am getting closer every day. I donít know how to say that to him because he will start to cry and whine, all part of trying to make me feel guilty, which I donít.
He really doesnít have any friends and is not interested in seeking out any. I get almost nothing out of this friendship. How do I tell him I canít do this any more without hurting him? Is that even possible?-- Had Enough
DEAR HAD ENOUGH: You are going to have to dole out very reasonable and rational consequences to your friend, while at the same time behaving very calmly and being neutral.
You say,ďIíve urged you to get help for your drinking, but you wonít. Iím so sorry that is the case. Our friendship has become exhausting for me, and I wonít be able to continue unless you get sober. Itís really that simple.Ē
Donít attach elaborate conditions, donít make suggestions and donít give in. If your friend calls and asks for a ride to an AA meeting, you might want to grant it, but thatís the only favor you should be willing to do.
DEAR AMY: My parents divorced when I was very young.
My father remarried and had two daughters. He paid child support and met his financial obligations regarding me, but he was never really interested in knowing me. He was not curious about me, then or now. Although I receive birthday and Christmas cards from him, I rarely see or hear from him.
I wanted him to meet my son (his grandson), and he paid one visit in 15 years.
Iím 44 now, and although I should know better and forget him, I have to admit itís still very painful. Being an only child was lonely and difficult for me. I would have loved to have had a dad and sisters in my life. Any advice to help me overcome this would be greatly appreciated.-- Sad
DEAR SAD: My advice involves doing the hard work of accepting what is, including accepting your sadness over this loss. You are grieving the loss of possibility.
My insight into this tough state is that you want what everyone wants ó a happy childhood ó but you were not granted that particular stroke of luck. In that regard, you have lots of company.
You cannot change your past, but you have control over your future. Mine your current situation for nuggets of joy and count yourself lucky that youíve been granted the opportunity to do better for your son than was done for you.