Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: My sister, “Ruth,” has struggled with addiction to prescription medication since high school. My parents have been incredibly supportive for the past eight years. They helped her get into rehabilitation programs, paid for lawyers, car insurance, health insurance and food, and they allow her to live rent-free in their home.
This past spring, Ruth finally finished vocational school, but instead of looking for a job, she spends every day in her room playing video games. She doesn’t contribute financially, nor does she help with basic household chores. Recently, she relapsed and ended up back in an outpatient rehab program.
My parents are terrified to throw her out for fear she would (once again) attempt suicide. They have tried giving her deadlines to finish school, get a job and move out, but she always manages to manipulate my parents, and the deadlines pass and life goes on unchanged.
This has destroyed my parents’ lives. My mother is taking medication for anxiety. My high-strung father is so stressed out that he has tantrums and screams in frustration. They have both told me they feel like prisoners in their own home. As a result of all the stress, my parents are separating.
My mother thinks moving out will encourage Ruth to do the same. She also believes it will show my father that she will not tolerate his tantrums anymore. I have begged my parents to try counseling, but they are both reluctant to do so. I agree that Ruth needs to be cut free and my father needs to control his temper, but I think Mom is going about this the wrong way. I worry she is making a volatile situation worse. How do I help my family? — Witness to a Powder Keg in Maine
Dear Witness: We think your mother has had enough and is looking for the escape hatch. If your parents aren’t interested in counseling, please suggest they check out Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) at 1-800-736-9805, Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) at 1-800-477-6291 and Because I Love You (bily.org).
Dear Annie: I am in my early 50s and am a breast cancer survivor. Earlier this year, I had some blood work done and the results were questionable. Given my history, I was nervous and called the doctor’s office several times and got no response. When the staff finally answered the phone, the receptionist told me they had shut off the phones because they were watching the royal wedding.
Although my test results turned out fine, I can’t get over how unprofessional the staff was. I haven’t said anything to my doctor, but I have an appointment next month. Should I say something? — Upset
Dear Upset: This was not only unprofessional, but it also could have put a patient in jeopardy and the doctor’s office at risk for a lawsuit. Tell the doctor, “You know, when I tried to call your office last April, I was surprised that you allowed your staff to turn off the phones to watch the royal wedding. Thank heavens, it wasn’t an emergency.” The doctor will take it from there.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Miserable,” whose husband wasn’t interested in her anymore, could have been my story.
One day, my husband said to me that our sex life was finished. I asked what was going on, I begged, pleaded, cried and yelled, but he insisted there was nothing wrong. Six years passed with little touching and no sexual activity at all. Finally, the truth came out. He had been having affairs.
My advice to any woman who is experiencing this same problem is to ask your husband to get a checkup and then buy a GPS tracking device to see where he spends his time. We are now in counseling, trying to piece together our lost marriage. — Any Woman, Anywhere
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Published in The Messenger 9.15.11