Dear Annie: I recently discovered that my husband is addicted to painkillers. He buys them illegally from people (he calls them “friends”) on the street.
I have noticed a marked change in his personality since he’s been taking the drugs. I know this is common in drug abusers, but I need to clarify whether his behavior constitutes emotional abuse.
For example, we had a disagreement about his 21-year-old son who lives with us and also uses drugs. When I suggested his son pick up after himself, my husband became irate and very threatening in his demeanor. He said things like, “You better remember who supports you” and “If I’m not good enough for you, then leave.”
I’m a bit afraid of him now because I don’t know when he will explode. Drug rehab is out of the question since he has informed me that I have the problem, not him. I worry about him being arrested or the police coming to the house and sending my 16-year-old daughter to foster care. Since he absolutely refuses to get help and I absolutely cannot live like this, would you leave him if you were me? — Not Sure
Dear Not Sure: Normally, we would recommend counseling first, and it would still be a good idea to see someone, but you have a 16-year-old daughter who is surely affected by the behavior of her stepfather and stepbrother, and her welfare must come before anything else. Since you believe your husband is becoming erratic and threatening, it would be best to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) before taking the next step. Also contact Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) at 1-800-477-6291 or Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-888-4-AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) for family affected by drug addicts. Your entire family needs help.
Dear Annie: I work as a receptionist for my son and daughter-in-law. Each of their other assistants receives a $100 employee birthday check. When my birthday comes around, however, I get nothing. My son says they already get me a gift since I am “Mom” and cannot justify giving me two.
I believe the employee check is a separate thing. Don’t get me wrong. My son is a wonderful and generous gift giver, but he also has family members who do the same for him and his wife. I am in no way treated better than other employees because I am related. I am hurt over this. Am I being selfish? — Employee Mom
Dear Mom: If the practice can afford to give you the same bonus check as everyone else, you should receive one. Whatever personal birthday gift your son gets you is separate. Although you might keep in mind that if he begins giving you a check at work, your birthday gift may be substantially less generous. That, however, would be his choice.
Dear Annie: Three years ago, my son was in an auto accident that nearly killed him. He survived, but suffered severe facial trauma and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Because he was not expected to live or recover to the degree that he has, my husband and I have heard over and over how lucky we are that he is alive and how grateful we should be to have our son.
Although we do thank God he is still with us, we do not feel “lucky.” As a result of the brain injury, our son is a completely different person who is often moody, compulsive and angry. The most heartbreaking part is that he is aware of the change and wants so badly to have his “old self” back but knows he cannot. Nothing is the same for any of us and there is no end.
The family of a person who suffers a brain injury sometimes grieves just as much as if their loved one has died. They need to be allowed to do so. — Heartbroken Mom
Dear Mom: Our hearts are breaking for you and your son. If you haven’t yet contacted the Brain Injury Association of America (biausa.org), please do so. Their support could be very helpful. The number is 1-800-444-6443.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.28.08