Dear Amy: We have a friend who is a controlling alcoholic. Her husband of more than 25 years divorced her seven years ago due to her abusive behavior. The only one surprised by their divorce was her. Her own adult children knew it was only a matter of time.
My friend denies she has a drinking problem, partly because she is able to function at her job. Her drinking gets so bad in the evenings that if you speak with her after 8 p.m., she has no recollection of the telephone conversation. The next day she will say the exact same thing, and if you tell her she is repeating herself, she gets angry.
I have asked her if she thinks she has a drinking problem, and she says no. She is so controlling that she will tell you how to drive, she demands you lower the radio, tells you where to park the car, where to sit, what to order in a restaurant, how to pay the bill — and she will scold you if you do things different from how she wants.
I am the last remaining friend in our once happy group of four. Everyone else has jumped ship. It is too much work to be friends with her. I have chosen to see her on a very limited basis, and I try to limit our telephone chats.
I guess I feel sorry for her because deep down inside I feel she is a caring, nice person. She brings up the other friends who don't call her anymore or stop by to see her. She says she can't figure out what she has done. I don't want to be the one to say to her that at our age she is just too much work to be friends with.
What do you suggest?
— Tired of the work
Dear Tired: In addition to this friendship being very frustrating for you, it must also be heartbreaking. Now that she has lost almost everything, rather than ask her if she has a drinking problem, it is time to be a very brave friend — and tell her she has a drinking problem.
Let her know, "Your drinking is killing you, and it is killing our friendship. Please get help." Write your own script in your own words, and practice it. Talk to her in person, when she is sober. Expect her to respond in anger. And repeat: "I care about you. Please get help." You can point her toward local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. But she is responsible for making the commitment to sobriety.
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