Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I am helplessly in love with a man who treats me like dirt. I'll call him "Brad." We have been together for eight years.

During that time, he has told me he was married (he has been divorced for the past five years), and lied about having cancer. Everything that comes out of his mouth is pretty much a lie.

Last year, Brad and I had a baby girl. He wanted no part of having a baby and avoided me during the entire pregnancy. To top it off, when I was in my ninth month, I found out he was seeing someone else. He swears nothing happened. He says he just needed someone to talk to.

For the baby's sake, I placed her for adoption, and she is with a good family. Now that the baby is gone, Brad has come around acting sweet and caring. Yet he still excludes me from family functions and cares more about his ex-wife's feelings than mine.

Am I sick in the head to be in love with Brad? How do I stop loving him and find a normal relationship? -- HELPLESSLY IN LOVE

DEAR HELPLESS: Are you sick in the head? If galloping masochism is a classifiable illness, the answer is yes. Somehow you have confused pain and anxiety with love. How do you stop loving him and find a normal relationship? A psychotherapist can help you understand why you have tolerated the abuse, and help you rebuild your self-esteem and learn to form healthy relationships. Your physician can refer you.

Fill your time with worthwhile activities to distract you from loneliness while you're getting your head straight. One rewarding activity is to volunteer your spare time to a worthy cause -- working with animals, the elderly or a charity of your choice. It's also a way to meet constructive people.

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DEAR ABBY: I'm a 22-year-old woman. When I was 11, my parents divorced. Because Mom was an alcoholic and a drug addict, my brother and I lived with our dad.

I know a 16-year-old boy named "Sam" who is experiencing the same thing. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother. She, her boyfriend and his friends smoke a lot of weed in the home and are stoned most of the time. Sam has tried to talk to her about it, but she only yells that he can't tell her what to do because he's the kid, not the mother. He wants to move out, but his brother is only 9, and Sam can't support them both.

Sam has thought about telling his father what his mother is doing, but he's afraid his mother will never forgive him.

Abby, I care for both the boys. I don't want to sit idly by and do nothing. Should I tell someone, or keep my trap shut? -- ON THE FENCE IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR ON THE FENCE: Get off the fence. Contact Sam's father and fill him in on what's going on. It will give him a chance to intervene and take custody of his children -- which could be a step in the right direction for all concerned. If his father is a responsible adult, Sam and his brother will have a more normal home environment, and the mother will be put on notice that there are consequences for her actions. Let's hope it helps her clear her head.

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