Partner is still angry — even after getting sober
Dear Annie: I’m in a bit of a predicament here. I’m with a wonderful woman who is a few years older than I am. She is a single mom of a sweet 7-year-old daughter. She has worked hard to overcome some alcoholic issues and has recently made strides in becoming sober and a better mother for her daughter.
My problem is that she has an anger issue. Her temper isn’t horrible, but she’s got a short fuse, and I try not to bother her if I know she is in a bad mood. But I want to be able to do more to help her become a better person. She tells me that I help, but I feel lost because even though she’s been sober for months, her anger is still the same. I thought it might dissipate after she became sober, but it’s still there behind the closed doors, and I never know what I will do to make her angry. I love her so much, and I feel that she is the one I want to spend my life with.
I’m not willing to give up on her and her daughter, as I want to be a family someday. She still attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She has a personal counselor and is involved in activities at her daughter’s school. Is there something we’re missing that she could do to help her anger? She can’t reach out to family members, as they don’t approve of her relationship with me (another woman). Please help! — Hiding Behind the Doors in Kansas
Dear Hiding: Sobriety is no magic bullet. People’s problems can follow them into recovery. But that’s why it’s called recovery. It’s an ongoing process — a journey and not a destination. Toward that end, it’s wonderful that your partner is attending AA meetings, as well as individual therapy. Let’s hope she will continue to do so and will work the steps, which will help her work through some of that anger.
With that said, I’m more concerned for you than I am for her. Your letter indicates an overextended sense of responsibility common among loved ones of people with alcoholism. You risk losing sight of your own mental health. I strongly encourage you to attend a meeting of Al-Anon (https://al-anon.org) or SMART Recovery (https://www.smartrecovery.org) or to seek individual therapy. If it helps motivate you, know this: Finding a support system for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your relationship. It will help to ensure you’re not playing a role in any dysfunctional dynamics, however unintentional.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from “Cramped in the Cabin.” I don’t fly that much, but when I do, just before takeoff, I get up and politely approach the person in front of me so he or she can see me in all my 6-foot-2-inch splendor. I say: “Excuse me, but I just want to let you know before we take off that you will not be able to fully recline in your seat because my knees will prevent you from doing so. Perhaps the flight attendant would be able to find someone who is willing to change seats with you so you can have that comfort for the duration of the flight.” I have yet to have anyone move, and no one has tried to fully recline. Civility is not dead. — Ruth
Dear Ruth: And long may it live. Thanks for sharing your tip. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.