Dear Annie: Shortly, I will shower and prepare to spend the day with my ex-boyfriend. "Pat" is 60, and I am 67. He started drinking when he was 14 and has always been a drinker, but it didn't interfere too much with our lives until last spring, when he started drinking heavily and stayed drunk for weeks.
It was about a month into his bender when I invited my grown daughter "Elizabeth" to stay while her apartment was being fumigated. That night, Pat went downstairs to the sofa and attempted to sexually assault her. She left screaming. I was in shock. An hour later, my other daughter, "Samantha," called and told me to leave and get to her house, that I should not stay with Pat.
By the time I got to Samantha's house, the police were there to interview Elizabeth. She had called them. (I did not have any say in this, but I was OK with it.) They arrested Pat that night.
The next morning, Pat called to ask me to bail him out. I said no. I started moving my stuff out, and I moved in with my daughter.
Now comes the hard part. He wants me to be his support while he recovers from all his years of drinking. He does not have any friends. I don't have any friends anymore, either.
My girls have told me not to see him or talk to him. They have made very clear that if I do, I won't be part of this family. But I feel so bad for him. Is there a way to open dialogue with my daughters so I can do this? I will not return to him as his girlfriend. I will not move back to that house or spend a night there. I am seeing a counselor, and so is he. Should I try, or should I walk away for good? -- "Margaret"
Dear Margaret: If you've written to me looking for the answer your counselor won't give you, I'll have to disappoint you. You must run, not walk, away from this man and into the arms of your loving daughters. It sounds as if those two can offer the clearheaded perspective you so badly need right now. Do not alienate them by spending more time with the man who attempted to assault Elizabeth. What he did is unforgivable.
Your desire to rescue him, your belief that you're responsible for his happiness -- these are classic traits of people who live with alcoholics. Please seriously consider attending an Al-Anon meeting. You can find one in your area by visiting http://www.al-anon.org.
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