Ask Amy: Mom’s addiction and abuse roils household
Dear Amy: My mom drinks. When my brothers and I were young (we are all in our 20s now), her drinking wasn’t too bad. It got much worse after her mother died 15 years ago, and steadily worse with COVID-19. She is also a heavy cigarette smoker.
When she is drunk, she becomes very verbally abusive, and sometimes physically abusive.
She tells me that I am a worthless person, stupid, and that no one will ever love me. I tell her that this hurts me — and she laughs.
I try to walk away, but she will corner me. She goes after my brother and dad as well (our younger brother lives in another state).
My dad does nothing about this, which is understandable. My older brother lives with them full time. He just laughs it off and does not confront the problem.
I don’t know what to do. I moved back home a few months ago to help out.
I am at my wits end. She is making me dislike her, and now I am also afraid of her. I don’t want to feel this way about her. She is my mom. I want to help her. — Scared of Mom
Dear Scared: You might assume that your father is doing his best to keep his head down and stay out of the line of fire, but you deserve 1. not to be abused and 2. to have a parent try to protect you. I assume that you are absorbing some of the drunken abuse that your father and brother endured before your arrival.
Realistically, you cannot force your mother toward recovery, but you can attempt to confront her with the grave impact her drinking has on you.
Write down your thoughts. Be specific and honest in describing the impact on you (“I want to try to help you, but I’m afraid of you. I’m losing confidence in you and in myself. I need to protect myself from your rages.”)
Some people report success by recording or filming the other person’s behavior and then confronting them with the evidence. However, you should not set out to shame your mother, but to allow her to simply see herself. A 12-step recovery program might work for her; she should also see her physician for medical treatment options.
You should also look for other housing. You have a duty to take care of yourself and to protect yourself. Al-anon or another “friends and family” support group would be a game-changer for you and your family.
Dear Amy: I met a man nearly two years ago.
We have been living together for over a year (in his house).
I just found out that he has an STD and has been using multiple dating websites since the beginning of our relationship.
He asks me to move out of his house every time we argue. But then he insists that he loves me. He always says he is sorry afterward.
I used to love and trust him, but now I am not so sure this relationship can be saved.
Do you have any suggestions — before I move out and leave him once and for all?
Can this relationship be saved? — Wondering
Dear Wondering: Nope — you’re good. Pack your stuff, make sure you get tested — and enjoy your new life.
Dear Amy: As a man, I have always been intrigued by how women’s emotions and reactions differ from men’s. I believe the psychologies of both sexes play equal roles in the wonderful dynamism that makes the world go ‘round.
In the context of the women’s movement that has been occurring over the last several decades, I often wonder how contemporary women respond to so-called stereotypical female behavior as often portrayed in movies and TV dramas.
When a woman bursts into tears, can’t make up her mind, succumbs to a sweet-talking man, etc., does a contemporary woman say, “Come on, girl, buck up! Get a hold of yourself!” Or does she say, “Gee, I can see why she feels that way. I’d probably react the same way.” — R
Dear R: It is important to remember that most earlier media was created by men, and so the distance between “Alice” on “The Honeymooners” and the female characters realized by Shonda Rhimes or Phoebe Waller-Bridge shows what a long way depictions of the female experience have come.
So yes, I’m more in the “buck up!” category, but I believe that most of us (women and men) experience our emotional lives along a wide spectrum.