DEAR ABBY: I am 55 and retired. My husband, "Mark," is 60 and an alcoholic. I want him to read this letter in your column.
I've gone through hell putting up with his alcoholism. He falls asleep with a cigarette still burning between his fingers. He uses the stove, forgets about it, and falls asleep. He talks to himself. I believe he has three personalities: the friendly talker; the one who "shuts down" and is angry at the world; and the rude, obnoxious person who emotionally abuses me.
Mark's famous words are, "I have never hit you." Physically, no -- but mentally I am beaten regularly.
We have no social life because he has to drink before we go anywhere -- so I don't accept invitations. When he's not working, he drinks 95 percent of the time. Within the last two years, he's had two DUI citations (driving under the influence), so either I or one of our three children must provide his transportation to and from work.
All three kids say I should leave him. They love their father, but do not enjoy being around him. Mark has one brother, but they don't talk because of Mark's drinking. Besides the children and me, Mark has no one else.
He refuses to go for treatment. He promises to stop drinking, but doesn't. If he isn't in bed, I can't sleep at night because I'm afraid he'll burn the house down.
I want Mark and other alcoholics to know that besides complicating their own lives, they are ruining the lives of all the people around them.
I have concluded that I would be happier and have more peace of mind living alone in a trailer than in my house with an alcoholic. -- SEEKING PEACE IN MISSOURI
DEAR SEEKING PEACE: First, contact Al-Anon. They offer information and emotional support to family and friends of alcoholics. Call 1-800-344-2666 for meeting information, 1-800-356-9996 for introductory literature. Their Web site is www.al-anon.org.
Second, listen to your children. They have your best interests at heart.
Third, speak to an attorney and ask for a trial separation. The attorney will protect your financial interests.
Fourth, ask your husband to leave. You must stay in your home to protect it from fire.
This may appear to be a drastic solution, but it's the only way to get his attention and find peace of mind. Don't feel guilty. You deserve to be happy, respected and safe.