Finding virtual support groups
Dear Annie: While it is the best advice for stemming the COVID-19 pandemic, being told to isolate when you are a recovering alcoholic is the exact opposite of what the program Alcoholics Anonymous teaches us.
However, during this isolation, when most of the AA meeting places have been shut down, an alternative has blossomed. The meetings in my area have created many, many online meetings available at all times of the day, and they have been an absolute lifesaver for many. People can join from wherever they are. Just yesterday, I was in an online AA meeting and had the opportunity to hear someone share from India! A half a world away and his story is the same as mine! I have gone to several online meetings and “see” people that I would never have met otherwise. It has been a silver lining in this dark and lonely cloud. — Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: I’ve heard from several people what a blessing the online AA meetings have been during this time. Quarantine poses unique challenges for people recovering from addiction. To anyone facing that struggle: If you have access to a computer, please try a virtual support group. AA, Narcotics Anonymous, Families Anonymous, LifeRing and others all have options available.
Dear Annie: Are there any support groups out there for those of us whose spouses have survived a heart attack? My husband had a heart attack a few months ago, and I find myself in a constant state of worry and anxiety. I’m waking up at night to make sure he’s still breathing, biting my tongue to not nag (“did you get any exercise today?”) and sitting on my hands so I won’t knock that fried bologna sandwich out of his hands. I don’t want to burden the kids by talking to them about what I’m going through, and my sister and sister-in-law have their own worries. — Worried Wife
Dear Worried: Having worries of our own does not preclude us from hearing our friends’. I’m sure that your sister and sister-in-law would encourage you to open up to them, if they knew what you were dealing with. Still, it’s a great idea to look for outside support. You might try MendedHearts, a nonprofit organization whose core purpose is to provide a “peer-to-peer support network for all heart patients and families affected by heart disease across the lifespan.” Find more information at https://mendedhearts.org.
Dear Annie: This is in regards to “JP,” who advised that, if someone cheats on his or her partner, everyone involved should get tested for diseases spread through sex.
One of the worst days of my nursing career was when I told a middle-aged patient that she had tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease and needed to be treated. I also told her that any partners for the last six months should be tested and treated also. She returned with:
“I have never been with anyone other than my husband! We were high school sweethearts.”
I expressed my sorrow at having to tell her this but that he MUST get tested and treated also.
Her reply was: “He had a heart attack. I buried him a month ago.”
I was stunned.
Please, people: If you are cheating or considering it, understand that your actions can hurt so many people.
If you’ve been intimate with someone other than your partner, then go to your local health department and get tested. Think of the other people in your life — people who you might never be able to make it up to. — Public Health Nurse
Dear Nurse: That is truly tragic. If “JP’s” letter didn’t get through to everyone, I sure hope this does. Thank you for taking the time to write.
Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.