Adapted from a recent online discussion.
On taking offense at those who refer to their pets as "children":
I am 69. I have four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Although I love them all, my first family is grown and moved on from my day-to-day life. My new life includes two "girls," both yellow Labradors.
They each have a vocabulary of about 200 words. They know when I am happy, sad or mad. They learned to sneak up on the foot of my bed without disturbing me. It's their home, too.
Brandy and Duchess are part of my family; it is not a joke. Those who think it is have never known the unconditional love a canine can have for its owner, or the owner for his companion. I would suggest that doubters have a little more compassion for those who find comfort in a life-form that, if treated with love and kindness, is incapable of betrayal, and is always at the door to meet you.
On the victim of infidelity who is often overlooked:
We hear about men who father the "love child" with "the other woman," but often not word one about the husband of the other woman.
It is he who comes to understand in a blinding flash, or in an "ooze" of lies, half-truths and admissions, that his wife is not what she has represented herself to be.
As one such man, I can say that while all of this was far beyond difficult for me, the worst part was to lose — after many years as a devoted father — the paternity of my child, a cherished part of myself. The child I thought I had fathered became a "disappeared child." There were no well-meaning neighbors to help search for the lost child; no memorial services to honor his life or recognize the loss; no condolences from friends or family — only the embarrassed efforts to hush, cover up, adjust and try to go on.
On avoiding parties to curb someone's drinking:
I started drinking in high school because everyone else was doing the same thing. I continued through college because everyone was doing the same thing. After I entered the working world, I continued my drinking ways because I thought everyone else would be doing the same thing.
Somewhere around my late 20s, I secretly began to realize I had a problem. My poor wife, who had long since quit, was continuously embarrassed by my propensity to get bombed. I struggled to quit many times. When my wife became pregnant, I swore I would quit. I couldn't even do that. I was disgusted with myself.
In 1987, at a self-awareness session sponsored by work, I was asked: "If the 10-year-old version of yourself were to meet the current version of yourself, would he be proud of what you became?" I had to answer, "No."
I quit drinking and have never looked back. I go to many social situations where people are drinking, and it doesn't bother me. Having a loved one keep a drinker away from the social scene won't work. Only the one who is drinking can make this better.