DEAR AMY: You frequently suggest books for people to read on the subject they are worried about. I have a son who has been drinking for quite a while now, and he is not realistic about his problem. He is 53, and otherwise a very nice person. Could you suggest a book for him that may catch his eye and cause him to think about his drinking? I would very much appreciate your input.
DEAR DAD: Some books can offer up unforgettable "ah-ha" moments, but — when it comes to addiction, the personal realization needs to come first, followed by acceptance, the humility required to desire genuine and lasting change, and the determination to try.
Here I am, staring at a shelf-full of diet books, all of which seemed like a solution when I acquired them, but none of which proved useful until I decided to take responsibility — and be accountable — for my own behavior. And then — what do you know — I didn't need a book.
So no — although addiction memoirs and self-help books are abundant, I don't think there is a magic book out there that would inspire your son toward rapid change.
However, if handing your son a book would help YOU to talk to him about his drinking, then you could present him with: "Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions," by Russell Brand (2018, Picador). Brand is a British actor, comedian, podcaster, autodidact, and all-around wonderful weirdo who is in recovery for his own multiple addictions. This book contains some smart insights.
More important than any book, however, would be your decision to tell your son your own truth about his drinking. Are you worried? Say so. Do you want to try to help? Tell him.
You will feel better if you can learn and practice the art of detachment. When it comes to your son's drinking, you are, in fact, powerless. This can be a very challenging truth for a parent to accept.
Al-Anon's supportive community would be a source of comfort and knowledge for you — check Al-Anon.org for local meetings and online support. The Al-Anon "bible" is "Courage to Change," (1992, Al-Anon Family Groups). You might benefit from its daily readings and meditations.
DEAR READERS: Our current isolated status has pushed a lot of us to go just a tiny bit bonkers — in a good way.
In addition to the very serious issues raised in this space, I've received coronavirus poetry, videos of people learning to play the banjo, families lip syncing to pop songs in their pajamas, and other varieties of delightful silliness. I love it all. (You can watch my own homemade, goofball instructional video of how to dye your own hair at home, posted on amydickinson.com.)
I also received the following two questions from a married couple: "Mrs. and Mr. Smith."
DEAR AMY: An unexpected effect of coronavirus isolation is that my husband has developed a thirst for the perfect shoe. He already possesses an impressive collection of casual shoes, sneakers, and a few dress shoes.
Now he has acquired shoes to walk to the bottom of the driveway, shoes for the short walks vs. the 5-mile walks (we live way out in the country), and he insists he needs more shoes for sunny weather, damp weather, slippery conditions and "unforeseen situations."
This quest for the perfect shoe is expensive, of course, but do I need to fear for his mental health? I've started calling him "Imelda."
DEAR AMY: I'm married to a wonderful woman, but she insists on cleaning up nonstop. Even when we're having dinner, if she spots a crumb on the floor, she leaps out of her chair with a vacuum cleaner. She's using a robot vacuum too, so that she can clean in two places at once. Also, she can be very critical. If I don't hang up my shirts to suit her, she's very quick to point out the proper technique. Even my closet is under her constant scrutiny, and I've become afraid to use it, so I'm forced to leave my garments on the floor. Is there a way to solve this problem without ruining the perfect bliss of our marriage?
DEAR MRS. AND MR. SMITH: Let us tread, ever so gently, through this pandemic — but not over each other — and wearing the perfect shoe, if possible.
For now, one of you gets to Roomba, and the other gets to rumba (in his dancing shoes).
Be safe, be well, and keep your quick wits about you.