Heart


Direct Answers - Column for the week of May 24, 2004

I am the mother of a 6-year-old child. My husband is an alcoholic and refuses to realize it because he can skip a few days, once in awhile, before drinking again. A few years ago he went to a counselor with me and was told those few days in between are considered a "dry drunk." I totally agree as his verbal abuse is worst when he's dry occasionally.

I have a little bit of college, but no vehicle or means of getting out on my own. Everyone refuses to help. They tell me to stay with him and raise my son. I feel I am the only parent as my husband spends most of the time drinking, cursing, or sleeping. Why am I the only person who feels this is no life for a child?

My son and I have nowhere to turn. My dad passed away when I was a child. My mother takes as much as she can from us and only looks out for herself. What can I do?

Sondra

Sondra, a few years ago a friend of ours went on vacation, and we agreed to feed his dog, a Great Pyrenees, while he was gone. Wayne was carrying a 50 pound sack of dry dog food through our friend's kitchen, when the bag split. The height and momentum of the moving bag caused dry food to ricochet everywhere.

Dog food covered the entire kitchen floor. Some of it landed in our friend's sun porch, home office, living room, and breakfast nook. It was a mess to clean up, but the hardest part may have been deciding where to start and having the heart to begin.

You are right. This is no life for a child. Your son is growing up in a world totally beyond his control. He can't stop his father's drinking, he can't stop his father's abuse, and his father is not showing him how to be an adult male.

A home like yours is a factory for producing children who will struggle as adults, seeking to please others in preference to seeking workable solutions to problems. In addition, children of alcoholics usually feel isolated and question themselves, while pretending to outsiders that everything is normal.

Your mother won't help. She wants to keep you in this situation for her own benefit. Your friends won't help. The simple aid of close friends and family is unavailable to you, so your first step will have to be a bigger one.

Contact everyone you think could help you. That includes government services, career counselors, women's centers, churches, and an attorney. Look into every possible type of assistance. Your goal is to get yourself and your son out of the control of an abusive drunk. Keep your eye on the goal. If you go to an organization or individual, and their goal is not the same as yours, move on to the next possibility.

You don't have the ability to make your husband stop drinking, and we are not going to tell you to handcuff yourself to this situation. Some people may tell you that you can help your husband not to drink, but they won't say, as is often the case, you may never change his behavior. He may be five years from sobriety or 35 years from sobriety. He may spend his entire life inside a bottle.

You cannot cure someone of something they deny they have. But you have been cured. You no longer want to be the wife of an alcoholic or have your son raised by one. Don't let anyone uncure you of that.

If you and your son leave, then you control your fate, not a bottle of liquor. Often in life we are handed 50 pounds of dog food to clean up. The hardest part is deciding where to start and having the heart to begin.

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com" target="_new">www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.


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