Life Advice



For Those Dealing with Alcoholism

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My wife is an alcoholic. I wrote the letter below to myself really. I was wondering if you would publish it, in hopes that it might help someone who is afflicted with alcoholism, or perhaps let a family member who is engulfed by it, know that they are not alone in their struggles:

I lost my wife and my best friend to alcoholism in March of 2012. That was seven long years ago. She continues to breathe, to function, to exist, but she is not the same person. Not even close.

My wife used to light up a room with her laugh and her smile. Alcoholism has extinguished both. My world has not been the same since.

As a husband, this disease makes me feel like an utter failure, haunted by "maybes": Maybe if I loved her a little more, the disease would go away. Maybe if I gave her a little more attention, she could beat this evil. Maybe if I was a little more patient, things would improve.

To date, I have found it impossible to protect her from herself. Maybe that's not my job, but I feel as if I must try. Recently, I came across these lyrics from Hank Williams that apply to how I feel:

You never stood in that man's shoes, or saw things thru his eyes.


Or stood and watched with helpless hands, as the heart inside you dies. ...

So help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts.

For the same God that made you, made him too. These men with broken hearts.

Alcoholism is a cruel disease. It does not discriminate. It hits the wealthy and the poor. It can afflict Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Muslims. It affects men and women, young and old. Whites, blacks, Asians -- it doesn't care.


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