Dear Annie: My daughter-in-law is a danger to herself and others. “Dotty” has been repeatedly arrested for drunk and/or disorderly behavior. She physically hurts her 6-year-old son, and verbally abuses and physically beats on her husband. He and others have called the police on her, and she has spent some time in rehab. But she is in denial that she has a problem. Her young child is suffering because of her antics and, of course, so is her marriage.
Dotty says the doctors have told her she is perfectly fine and has no mental health issues. Everyone knows she is lying. She uses their child as a tool to mend the marriage and makes a mockery out of my son’s valiant efforts to change things. My question is, how should my son tell his young child that Mommy is not well and the marriage is over? — Concerned Grandma
Dear Grandma: If your son believes the marriage is over, he should talk to a lawyer, report and document the abuse and discuss custody issues because his child needs to be protected. He also can benefit from counseling for himself and his son. But you need to stay out of this as much as possible.
We know how hard it is to watch this oncoming train wreck, but the best thing you can do for your son and grandchild is be a source of support and calm. Encourage your son to report the abuse to the authorities and seek counseling. Do not involve yourself in their marital problems. Do not badmouth your daughter-in-law. Do not push your son to get a divorce. Do not, under any circumstances, decide what your grandchild is entitled to know about his parents. This is your son’s decision. Make your home a sympathetic refuge and you will have nothing to regret later.
Dear Annie: I am a 36-year-old woman who is an awful mess. I got into the trap of using laxatives for weight loss. It only took a couple of times until my body wouldn’t work without them. I know it was stupid, but it’s too late now.
I’m afraid I’m not the only one who ended up like this and thought it would be good to warn others about the dangers of using laxatives. — Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: According to the National Eating Disorders Association, laxative abuse can result in health complications and life-threatening risks, and the idea that it is effective for weight control is a myth. Laxatives do not purge the body of calories from food. Instead, abuse causes the loss of water, minerals, electrolytes and indigestible fiber, all of which the body needs to function properly. This “water weight” returns as soon as you drink any fluids. (Not drinking fluids can cause weakness, blurry vision, kidney damage and, in extreme cases, death.) Chronic laxative abuse may also contribute to the risk of colon cancer.
It’s not too late to get help. Please speak to your doctor and ask for a referral to someone with expertise in treating eating disorders. Or contact the National Eating Disorders Association (nationaleatingdisorders.org) at 1-800-931-2237.
Dear Annie: I’ve read letters in your column from women whose husbands look at pornography. I always felt bad for them, but never thought it would happen to me. Last week, I found some porn sites on my computer’s history. I was devastated.
I confronted my husband, and he admitted it and said he needed me to help him stop. He apologized repeatedly and said he loves me. But it hurts as if he cheated on me. I feel so unattractive and unwanted. I am pregnant and hopeless. Is there a resource for the wives of men who look at this stuff? — Unattractive and Alone
Dear Alone: You can speak to your clergyperson if you are looking for a faith-based program, of which there are many. We also recommend COSA (Codependents of Sex Addicts) for men and women whose lives have been affected by someone else’s compulsive sexual behavior. Contact them at cosa-recovery.org or P.O. Box 14537, Minneapolis, MN 55414.
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 5.7.08