Dear Ann Landers: My oldest son is in the process of getting a divorce after 20 years of marriage. “Gary” has no children.
Lately, Gary has been calling me long distance almost daily, telling me all his problems. He is devastated about the divorce and says he still loves his wife. A few days ago, Gary called and wanted to know how much I remembered about his father mistreating him as a child. The question hit me like a bomb.
My husband was an alcoholic and extremely abusive to all six of our children. Gary says he needs to know as many of the details about his childhood problems and his relationship with his father as possible in order to get on with his life. I have spent many years trying to forget all that pain.
For most of our married life, my husband was in an alcoholic stupor. I doubt seriously that he remembers anything he did. I am still married to him after 45 years and have often wondered why I didn’t leave.
I am getting sick over this. I feel I must have let my children down by not confronting their father about all the physical and emotional abuse. I’m not sure how much I should tell Gary about what his father did or how much help this could possibly be.
Although all of my children have turned out well, two did suffer breakdowns and received therapy at local hospitals. I’m sure Gary is in therapy now, too. Please, Ann, help me figure out how to handle this. - Worried Mother From Connecticut
Dear Worried Mother: There is no point in beating yourself up over what you failed to do in the past. That’s history.
Since Gary has asked you about it, I believe you should tell him the truth about his early life. P.S. It might be therapeutic for you, as well.
Dear Ann Landers: The letter from “Gay Son’s Partner in Maryland” about attending the wedding for his partner’s sister really hit home for me. The sister’s mother didn’t want “Maryland” to be at the celebration, and he was concerned that it would forever damage the relationship. I used to have the same attitude as that mother.
I was raised a strict Catholic and refused to accept my gay son’s lover for many years. I was adamant about barring him from all family functions. This caused problems and unpleasant confrontations for a long time.
Last year, I became ill and could no longer live alone. My gay son and his lover were the only ones in the family who offered to take me in. I was resistant at first, but after living with them for a few months, I realized that the love and compassion which held their relationship together for so many years was every bit as valid as that of any heterosexual couple.
I am angry with myself for the heartache and trouble I put them through. I still cannot understand why God made them gay. I only know that He brought together these two wonderful people - my son and my “son-in-law.” I just hope your advice will make other parents think before they make the dreadful mistakes I did. - Proud Mother in California
Dear California: Your letter is sure to open some eyes - and some hearts as well. Thank you for it.
Gem of the Day: Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of range before it’s understood.
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