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Man battling booze feels he’s drowning in clutter

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Dear Abby,

I met the woman of my dreams about a year ago. Her husband had died about 2 months before our paths crossed. She has two teenage daughters I’m very fond of.

I have a history of alcoholism and she’s a hoarder. A week ago, I had an “epiphany”: I am desperately trying to quit drinking for my own sake.

Abby, I am a clean freak living with a hoarder. I come home from work and get depressed and stressed from looking at all the clutter. It is driving me insane. I feel like it is triggering me to stay drunk every night.

I don’t want to lose this woman and her family, but I can’t co-exist in this house. I have left several times, only to miss her and go back. I’m trying to kick the booze, but I know I won’t be able to achieve sobriety while living in this house.

– Truly Torn in Texas

Dear Truly Torn,

If you quit drinking only a week ago, it is important that you find an AA group to help you hang onto your sobriety. That’s step one.

Next, realize that you and the lady you’re living with may share a similar problem. You say you are a “clean freak.” This can be a symptom of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hoarding can be a symptom of the same disorder.

The International OCD Foundation is a reliable resource that may be able to help you both. It offers individuals with this disorder the support they need to manage their symptoms, and has many local chapters. You can locate it online at www.ocfoundation.org or reach it by calling 617-973-5801.

Dear Abby,

Maybe you would like to pass this on to the parents of teenage boys. It worked for me when I had the sex talk with my sons. I knew their brains had not yet fully developed. They thought they were invincible and had an “it could never happen to me” attitude.

Because money seems to be the one thing at that age they can relate to, I decided to turn it into a mathematical problem: I told them that if they got a girl pregnant, they could figure on a minimum of $300 a month child support, multiplied by 12 months for 18 years. (That totals $65,000 – unless the girl has twins, which would double the amount.)

Then I told them if they were tempted to have unprotected sex, they should look at the girl and ask themselves if they would pay her $65,000 to have sex with them. If they couldn’t answer yes, then they needed to walk away.

Abby, it worked! No grandchildren appeared until after they were married. Feel free to share this with other parents who would appreciate a “non-traditional” approach that is effective.

– Tony in San Diego

Dear Tony,

Gladly. I’m passing along your technique because money is a great motivator, and your idea makes “cents.”

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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