Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I’m a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for more than 12 years. My road to sobriety has been long and dark, but I am proud of turning my life around and staying sober. My problem is how my mother treats me about it. She keeps reminding me of all the mistakes I made and the people I hurt when I was still drinking.

I also struggle with manic depression and have a hard enough time forgiving myself for my past actions, let alone having someone continually bring up every single one. I try every day to be a better person, and I’m an open book when it comes to my life and flaws.
My mother constantly accuses me of falling into my old habits and says I’m lying about it, even though she’s been given truth and proof that I’m not. My long-term boyfriend and other family members can vouch for me. It’s to the point where she’s so in my head and cruel with the things she says that I’m spiraling back into depression, which is taking a toll on my confidence and mental health.
I have tried cutting her out of my life, but I live with a family member she’s close to, so she shows up at our house and continues her belittling. I’m starting to lose patience and also my sanity. What do you do? Please help! — STILL STAYING SOBER
DEAR SOBER: Understand that your toxic mother may have some kind of fixation on torturing you. When she shows up, absent yourself immediately. From your experience, you know she’s the kind of person who drives others to drink, so involve yourself with her as little as humanly possible. Your sobriety and sanity depend on it.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are going back and forth about setting a date for our wedding. We have begun arguing lately about normal relationship issues. He calls them fights, when all I’m trying to do is express my feelings so we get on the same page. Then, instead of talking, he shuts down and clams up. It makes me crazy.
Now he’s saying he won’t set a date until our relationship is “healthy.” He says we fight too much; I think it’s a lack of communication. Now I say nothing because I’m afraid he won’t want to set a date at all. I don’t know what to do. Setting a date is important to me, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s even worth it. Please help. — DESTINATION UNKNOWN IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR D.U.: Tell your fiance you think he was absolutely RIGHT when he told you he didn’t want to set a wedding date until your relationship is “healthy.” (I agree, by the way.) Tell him you love him and how important you feel communication is in any relationship. Then suggest the two of you seek premarital counseling.
Premarital counseling allows couples to preempt issues that could cause problems in a marriage, from child rearing to money to sex. If your fiance’s method of handling disagreements is to shut down, there may be a way to correct it during some of those sessions.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
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