Ask Amy: Friendship would be a plus, minus alcohol

June 15, 2012

Dear Amy: As a young career woman, I formed close friendships with a group of women who became my bridesmaids, confidants and cheerleaders. We raised our young children together. We celebrated together — a lot.

Almost eight years ago, I gave up drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. And though my friends initially cheered me on, they dropped me from their lives after I did not attend their annual champagne brunch and ladies happy hours in my early years of sobriety.

They are all smart women and once staged an intervention for another friend, so I thought they understood alcoholism as a disease and addiction that could not be taken lightly. I did not know how long it would take before the desire to drink would go away, and I did what it took to get there.

I miss my friends desperately. True, I have new friends in sobriety, but they do not share the intimacy and history I miss. I call my old friends occasionally, invite them over for dessert or walks, but they do not reciprocate, ever.

Amy, I enjoy going out to lunch, dinner and listening to live music — and I miss the day-to-day friendships. When I call or see them out and about, I suggest that we should get together, but none of them contact me anymore. AA counsels restraint of pen and paper, so I have never told them how they hurt me, though I have said I miss them.

Do you think there is anything I can do to reconnect?

-- Sober in Nashville

Dear Sober: I agree with the dictum of restraint of pen and paper, but not if this restraint interferes with speaking your truth.

You know from experience that your drinking had an effect on the people around you. So does your sobriety. In so many ways, you are not the person they knew; and while this is very good for you, they may not be able to adjust.

They may feel self-conscious about their own drinking. It sounds as if you can tolerate being around alcohol now, so could you take the bold step of trying to pull your group of old friends together for dinner and live music — something you might have enjoyed in the old days?

You should openly acknowledge the challenges and say you’d love to reconnect as fully as possible.

Dear Amy: With Father’s Day around the corner, I’m hoping that you will let me tell you about my wonderful dad.

He’s one of those ordinary guys who doesn’t call attention to himself. He worked hard to provide for our large family (he and mom raised eight kids, including my brother who is disabled).

My dad seemed to find the time to treat each of us as if we were special in his eyes. After work, he coached our sports teams when we were little, and I also have memories of him sitting patiently for tea parties, puppet shows and plays we put on in our back yard.

Our house was crowded and noisy. We never had a new car. Dad was not perfect. But he was the constant in our ever-shifting lives.

He’s moving more slowly, but he’s still the rock of our family, which now includes spouses and many grandchildren. His sons are the kinds of dads that he was. He is a hero in all of our eyes.

-- Grateful Daughter

Dear Daughter: I’m delighted to help you honor your father. And to all the hero-dads out there, I hope you enjoy lots of attention and expressions of gratitude this weekend.

I recommend the book “Father’s Day: A Journey Into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son,” by acclaimed journalist Buzz Bissinger (2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Bissinger is not the perfect father, but his book tenderly reveals an honest effort to understand and meet the unique challenges of his fatherhood.

Dear Amy: “Furious Wife” responded to obnoxious e-mails her mother-in-law had sent to her husband.

You told her to stay out of it. I disagree. She should make her objections known directly to her mother-in-law.

-- Faithful Reader

Dear Faithful: “Furious Wife” had already done this. And now I felt it was time for her to remove herself from this toxic equation.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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