Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My brother has been a drug addict for the better part of 30 years. When he comes off a binge, he usually loses a job, a car and sometimes his living arrangements. My mom always cleans up his messes. She lets him move in for several days so he can eat nonstop and sleep all day. She pays his traffic tickets and gets his car out of the impound lot. She has stood in line to get his food stamps and has taken him to buy food and clothing. When drugs caused my brother to lose most of his teeth in his late 40s, Mom spent several thousand dollars to have partials made to fit his mouth. Both my sister and I suffer because Mom spends so much time trying to make him “better.”
Our dad died a few years ago, and Mom was lonely. Since I am single, without children, I moved in with her. The arrangement works well for both of us.
However, the last time my brother came to the house, I made a casual remark that he was undoubtedly eating so much because he was coming down from a drug high. My mother looked at me with pure hatred and told me that I am “ugly, horrible and rotten.” I said it isn’t fair that both my sister and I are not allowed to express our feelings about our brother’s drug use. Mom went on for another 15 minutes repeating how awful I am, and that I am so much worse than my brother.
She treats my sister the exact same way. How can I get Mom to see that by enabling one child, she is deeply hurting the other two? — At a Loss
Dear At a Loss: Your mother is not ready to accept that her son is a drug addict and she is an enabler. Until she is, any negative comment you make about your brother will provoke her to defend him. Don’t criticize him. Instead, try to open Mom’s eyes to the harm she is doing not only to you, but to her son. Please contact Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) for families and friends of drug addicts at 1-800- 477-6291 or Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) at 1-800-736-9805.
Dear Annie: I am a single, childless 50-year-old woman. I’m in a dead-end job and looking to make changes in my life.
I want to go back to school, but do not have the time due to my work schedule. I would like to foster wild baby animals that are parentless and care for them until they are old enough to be set free. How can I find out about this line of work? I do not own a home, so I am able to move out of state. — Florida
Dear Florida: Fostering wild animals requires training and can be expensive to do on your own. You might have better luck working with a wildlife organization or animal sanctuary. Check online or in your phone book. You also can foster less exotic animals that need good, loving homes. Contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca.org), 424 East 92nd St., New York, NY 10128-6804.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Wanda and Worried,” the 75-year-old widow who was dumped by her 78-year-old boyfriend. She worries that she “is too old to start up with someone new.”
My mother died two years ago after 60 years of marriage. My father, now 89, has developed a wonderful relationship with a special lady friend who is 80 and lives in the same retirement community. It has given my father a new lease on life. And what a joy for us to see him find a new companion after watching him lovingly care for our mother during the difficult last years of her life. He is a wonderful role model for my five brothers.
Please tell Wanda to stop worrying and discover what new friendships may be waiting for her. — Janet
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.
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Published in The Messenger 5.13.10