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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I am a happily married 70-year-old woman with a family. I have been friends for 15 years with a single woman. In recent years, the friendship has not been rewarding for me, but I continued to see her out of loyalty.

She started giving me unwanted health advice and was insistent until I asked her politely but firmly to stop. Several weeks went by, then I asked her to lunch. She went into a 15-minute tirade about how poorly I had treated her. I said that I was sorry, but I told her that she needs to respect me and my judgment on my life issues. She finally settled down. After that, I did not want to see her anymore.

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I felt guilty and depressed. We volunteer for the same organization, and I’ve been polite. She sent me a long letter about wanting to resume our friendship, then an e-mail inviting me on a trip she would pay for.

I replied, saying that the friendship was too intense and that I no longer had the energy for it. Now I have received a love letter, which is embarrassing and depressing for me.

I want to ignore it, but should I tell her one more time that the friendship is over? She has had therapy in the past, and I wonder if she is stable.

A. You have been very responsive to this person, and she has upped the emotional ante each time. If you want to ignore this, then you should. You don’t owe her more explanations or acknowledgments.

She may approach you again and if she does you’re going to have to convey that the relationship is over. If you choose to do this, keep your message simple, direct and respectful.

Q. I have been married to my husband for 20 years. We have three teenage children. My husband is an alcoholic and in denial. He has become very disagreeable not only with me but with our three kids.

I have found that I just don’t like him anymore, and I feel we have all lost respect for him. He refuses to go to AA or to admit that his drinking is a problem. He has some serious health issues that are compounded by his drinking.

I am at my wits’ end. Separation is not an option due to limited finances. His parents agree that he has a problem, but they drink too, and aren’t good allies. I have gone to Al-Anon, but was unhappy with the religious aspect at the meetings. Do you have any ideas?

A. The basic lessons of Al-Anon can be extremely helpful — even transformative — for you and your children. You might have luck finding a secular “friends and family” recovery group through your local hospital or university.

Q. Like others, I just had to respond to the letter from “PO’d Husband,” about his wife’s struggles staying away from her co-worker’s candy dish.

I have a candy container to my desk, visible to all who enter the office. I don’t eat it; there is usually something chocolate, but being diabetic I know better than to eat it.

I may grab one occasionally, but I know my limits. We are responsible for our own health and should have the willpower to resist temptation.

A. Your willpower is admirable. I agree that mature people must find their own ways to cope with their own temptations. As I said to this concerned husband, the world cannot remove all risk from his wife’s path.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
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