A letter for those dealing with the hurt of alcoholism

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 through 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.

It first robs you of your judgment and senses, and then it goes to work on your character, your will. It will erode your self-esteem. Eventually, it will rob you of your soul and spirit. And in extreme cases, it will send you to an early grave. First, it ruins your life. Then, it will take it.

While I believe in God, my prayers have gone unanswered to date. While us mere mortals lack the ability to understand how a just God could allow bad things to happen to good people, it is apparent God doesn’t work on our time. He works in his time. God operates on a plane that is unrecognizable and mysterious.

My wish, my prayer, is that my wife can somehow rid herself of this dreaded disease before it’s too late. She has a husband who feels he has “failed” to reach her, and three kids who no longer recognize her, but whose collective love continues unabated and unconditionally. The collateral damage that this disease causes is enormous, spreading like ripples in a lake. It affects everyone around the individual who is suffering.

Please, God, give my wife the courage and strength to say: “No. Enough. I will no longer succumb to alcoholism. I am bigger, better and far more powerful than this disease ever dreamed of. I am surrounded by people who love me and depend on me, and I have a lot to live for.” — Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: This is one of the most beautiful letters I have ever read about how the disease of alcoholism can ruin someone’s life, not to mention the ripple affect that you describe.

Thank you so very much for sending this. My hope is that it brings comfort to those who are affected by the disease.

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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 dearannie@creators.com.


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