DEAR AMY: I’m looking for some insight into my behavior.
I’ve been married for 25 years with two great kids, a beautiful home, etc.
I love my husband, but he’s a high-functioning alcoholic. I love the guy in the morning, but I hate the drunk guy who yells at the TV each night.
I’ve thought about leaving over the years, but didn’t want the kids living with him on the weekends, so I stayed. We get along great when he’s sober, and his drinking has been our only issue.
Last month I went on a trip with a girlfriend. We went to an event and then returned to the hotel bar. I was only drinking wine, but I woke up next to a guy I met that night and I barely have any recollection of how I got there.
I’ve never blacked out like that in my life, but I don’t think I was drugged because I have memories of being a very willing participant.
I had no intentions of meeting anyone that night. But, it was actually a fantastic experience. I did it without an ounce of restraint or internal debate.
I barely have any guilt over this, either. I felt alive again, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I should go to therapy, but then I’d have to tell my husband why and that would blow up my whole existence, and I don’t want to do that, nor do I want to hurt him.
So, midlife crisis? Too much repressed anger at my alcoholic husband?
Why did I do that? — Confused
DEAR CONFUSED: You may be looking for a way to blame your husband for your behavior, but I assume you are engaged in some risk-taking for additional reasons of your own. To me, this sounds like nonconsensual assault, but if you weren’t slipped a drug at the hotel bar, your blackout means you should examine your own alcohol consumption.
Maybe you stay in this marriage because there are multiple benefits for you to stay, for instance, compared to your husband you will always be the less-messed-up partner. Your behavior tells me that you, in fact, do want to “blow up your existence,” but you are choosing a path that lacks integrity.
One thing you would learn in therapy would be to disentangle your choices from your husband’s. You should at least admit that this episode has deeper meaning and consequences.
If you intend to stay in this marriage, you should attend Al-Anon meetings, and your kids should go to Alateen (al-anon.org). You and your husband are not creating a positive legacy for them.
DEAR AMY: Several years ago, after we got a real piano, we lent an electric piano to our neighbors for their son to use.
Recently, they moved to a new house. I noticed an electric piano that looked different from the one we lent them. The son said the one we lent them “burnt out” and that he had received the new one as a Christmas present.
I am bothered that our friends appear to have swept our piano under the rug. One of our grown sons asked about the keyboard for his apartment. I would like to understand what happened to it, was it normal wear and tear, which seems odd, or perhaps water damage from being kept in their basement? I only want an apology, not reimbursement. — Feeling Used
DEAR FEELING: Lending someone an item for several years makes it sound more like a gift, unless you were specific about terms at the time, which you don’t seem to have been. When families hand over items their household has outgrown, it’s reasonable to think that this is something being passed along, not lent. Certainly with an electronic item (and not an heirloom), you should assume it has a shelf life. Inquire about this, an explanation and expression of thanks is called for, but I’m not sure you’re owed an apology. This seems more like a misunderstanding than a deliberate act.
DEAR AMY: “Upset” wondered if she was obligated to take her children to their 90-year-old great-grandfather’s birthday party. I disagree with your harsh response. If her daughter has serious food allergies, she should not feel obligated to take her anywhere in particular. — Upset with You
DEAR UPSET: Many readers thought my response was harsh. As I said in my answer, safeguarding the child’s health should be paramount, but in terms of this special celebration, I felt the family should try very hard to make it, and if they couldn’t, the husband should attend his grandfather’s birthday on his own.