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home : columns : dear harriette October 26, 2020

9/2/2020 8:00:00 AM
Child wants to help dad after relapse

DEAR HARRIETTE: My father is a recovering alcoholic; he was six months sober. Last week, I lent him my car to go to work. When he didn't arrive back home following his shift, I called his phone and learned that he had been in an accident while intoxicated. He broke his arm, and my car was totaled. I am drowning in bills and have a family to take care of. I'm so angry. I am thankful that he is safe, but he needs help and care. I want to support him through his addiction, but I can no longer risk my family situation. I want to check him into a rehabilitation facility to protect him and get him the help he needs. How can I explain this to him without upsetting him? -- Help My Dad

DEAR HELP MY DAD: Your father has to help himself. As much as you love him, you cannot enable him anymore. He will get upset when you recommend that he get help for his addiction. But you should recommend it anyway. Tell him how saddened and compromised you are because of his actions. Of course you are grateful that he is alive, but at what cost? Be frank with him. Tell him that you need him to get help because his addiction is taking over his life and the lives of you and your family.

You should consider going to Al-Anon (, an organization that supports the families and loved ones of people who are suffering from alcoholism. Your father's addiction directly impacts you -- and I'm sure it has for a long time. Perhaps talking to others who are having a similar experience may help you to gain some tools for your own sanity.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a twin sister, and we will be going away to different colleges in a few weeks. This is our first time being separated for more than a few hours. We have always done everything together, and I fear not being around her.

We planned to go to the same school, but she changed her mind and chose a different school at the last minute. I feel a bit of panic every time we speak about school and see her excitement to be somewhere I am not. I feel betrayed. I want to switch schools and go with her, but I do not want her to feel like I am following her or taking away her shine. I am just scared to be without her. Can I follow her to school to be near her, or should I face my fears? -- Twins

DEAR TWINS: Separating from your sister is clearly frightening for you -- and understandably so. Think of this as an opportunity for you to step more fully into yourself. Yes, it may be scary at first, but now is the time to trust that you are a strong and interesting individual who deserves to discover who you are independent of her. At your own school, you will meet new people, cultivate friendships and find your own rhythm. You will never lose your sister, but you will gain new allies if you allow yourself to do so.

You may want to get some mental health counseling in the beginning to help you transition into college life on your own. Your new school should offer that service. Good luck to you. You can do it!

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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