DEAR ABBY: I'm a 40-year-old female in the military who has been married for a few years. When I got married, I was slim, had a full head of beautiful, long hair and hardly any medical problems. Over the last couple of years I have developed a host of medical issues, all related to the harsh conditions of my deployments.
My husband is shorter than I am, thin and three years younger. I have gained more than 40 pounds due to steroid treatments. I had to cut my long hair because it was falling out from stress. I look nothing like the woman I was when we were married. I look mannish!
Abby, my husband no longer seems proud to be seen with me in public. He won't hold my hand, and he walks behind me or ahead of me so it doesn't appear we're together. I have tried talking to him about it, but he pretends nothing is wrong.
I think we look ridiculous together. Now that I'm so unattractive, the differences in height and our ages bother me more. I am embarrassed, ashamed, avoiding social situations and becoming a recluse. Doctors won't do anything to help me because they say it's a "cosmetic" issue. I don't know where to begin to dig myself out of this miserable existence. -- NO LONGER MYSELF IN MARYLAND
DEAR NO LONGER YOURSELF: I disagree with your doctors. This isn't a "cosmetic" issue. You are depressed! Please consult both another primary physician, preferably female, who can identify with the feelings you're having, and a psychologist.
Yes, you have put on weight, but patients aren't permanently on steroids. Your hair will grow out with time. But in the meantime, you may need psychological counseling to get you through this. Your husband may not be less proud to be seen with you. You may be projecting your own feelings onto him.
You're a strong woman. Please talk to a psychologist who can help you get your head straight. Happiness is the best cosmetic there is, and once you get a handle on your emotions, you will become your old self again.
DEAR ABBY: This is an open letter to parents out there who bring their kids to adults-only events because they couldn't get a baby sitter, but didn't want to miss out on a fun time. Listen, folks -- when you signed on for parenthood, you gave up the privilege to party anytime you want. An invitation stating "adults only" means just that. Do not expect the hosts to tone it down because you were too selfish to stay home with your child.
I attended a 50th birthday party to which one mom brought her 5-year-old daughter. She then requested the host "sanitize" the event, but he refused. That mom spent most of the time covering her child's eyes. (She tried to cover the girl's ears, too, without success.)
Not only was there a racy birthday cake and adult toys as gifts, but the adults weren't holding back in conversations, either. Instead of leaving, the mom stayed -- until the male stripper started performing. She was mad, but it was her own fault that her little daughter witnessed more than she should have.
Parents should be grown-ups. That means occasionally missing out on something because they are no longer single and childless. Please don't mess up somebody's party with your selfishness. -- RESPONSIBLE MOM IN L.A.
DEAR RESPONSIBLE MOM: I agree. You have stated it well. Not only was it unfair to the host and other guests, it was inappropriate for the child.
DEAR READERS: Today we remember the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was martyred in the cause of civil rights in 1968. "Nonviolence," he preached, "is a powerful and just weapon ... which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." His was a voice of reason in a time of insanity, silenced too soon.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)