Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I just read the letter from "Crossroads," the couple in marriage counseling. I believe there is something else the couple can do to work on their knee-jerk reactions to get their angry behaviors in check and replace them with healthy behaviors. A good way to find solutions is to attend Al-Anon meetings regularly. Al-Anon is widely thought to be only for spouses of alcoholics; however, it is not. It is for anyone dealing with unhealthy behaviors. Instant anger is definitely a common reaction when communicating with another person, as is hanging on to old resentments. Working the 12 steps does wonders to improve relationships with family, friends, neighbors and strangers. It is a spiritually based group of loving people who have problems of their own and seek to improve family behavior by changing their own attitudes. Being honest is an important part of Al-Anon.

I urge all people who cannot seem to get rid of unhealthy behaviors to attend many, many meetings of Al-Anon, work the steps and continue to receive counseling. Be honest and direct. I have attended Al-Anon and Al-Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics for several years, and, along with finding a good therapist, have improved my behavior and attitudes exponentially. -- Much Happier, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR MUCH HAPPIER: Thank you for sharing such detail about the effectiveness of Al-Anon. I have not mentioned this vital service in some time, and it is perfect timing to do so now. Not only have thousands of people benefited from the fellowship that lives in each of these meetings, but it is free, too. There is no barrier prohibiting someone who needs support from getting it. To find a meeting in your area, look up Al-Anon in your city.

DEAR HARRIETTE: There is a relatively new organization that might be of interest to "I Am Not Even Hungry," and it is Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, a nonprofit organization patterned after the highly recognized Alcoholics Anonymous.

I would suggest that you let your reader know about this organization and its website, which lists meetings available in his or her area. There are no weigh-ins, no fees and only first names are used. I know that it saved my life. It's not easy, but it is simple. -- Saved, Chicago

DEAR SAVED: Thank you for sharing this resource. For those in need, visit