DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Rick," is in prison and has been there for two years. He is the father of my 2-year-old son. I got pregnant three months into our relationship.
Ten days after our son was born, Rick had to turn himself in for something that happened prior to my getting pregnant. He was sentenced to five years. He was supposed to serve only two years of it, but another charge caused that to change, and he won't be home for another year and a half.
I'm starting to get confused about our relationship because we barely have one anymore. We never get to see each other or talk.
Every time I have a night out I meet different people, but I feel too guilty to continue with anything. My girlfriends all tell me I need to move on, that I don't deserve this and that I'm the one "in prison." But I really want the perfect family.
What do you think I should do, Abby? Move on and be happy, or sit here playing the waiting game? -- LOST AND CONFUSED
DEAR LOST: I'm glad you asked. Although Rick is the father of your little boy, you are not married to him. Therefore you are not morally obligated to put yourself into suspended animation until he is released from prison.
If you really want the "perfect family," you should do as your friends advise and move on, not because Rick made a mistake that got him into prison, but because there was a second offense that extended his sentence. It suggests a pattern.
DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago I was given the news that a close friend had committed suicide. I wish I could say it's the first time I have been in this situation, but I can't. My issue is, I think suicide is more than a little selfish and I am unable to get beyond my anger. How do I support the family and friends of a loved one who has died by suicide when I can't get past the anger? -- OVERCOME IN GLEN BURNIE, MD.
DEAR OVERCOME: I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. While it is normal to feel angry about the suicide, you also need to find some compassion. Individuals who decide to end their lives do so for various reasons -- to stop overwhelming emotional pain, because of mental illness, to punish someone, because of an incurable illness, and sometimes out of impulse.
Whatever your friend's reason was, please do not take it out on the grieving family and friends. They are dealing with enough of their own mixed emotions right now. If you feel you can't control your emotions, stay away until you can.
DEAR ABBY: My husband is in a nursing home for long-term care. The holidays will soon be here. How do I sign the holiday cards? Should I include my husband's name? My son is living with me. Do I include his name, too? -- GETTING READY IN NEW ENGLAND
DEAR GETTING READY: It is perfectly acceptable to include all three names on your holiday cards. (Send them out early, because the post office is sure to be especially busy in December.)
DEAR ABBY: I was wondering what families should do with old pictures if someone in their family is transgender. -- ANDY IN OHIO
DEAR ANDY: They should ask their transgendered relative what he or she would like done with the pictures and take their lead from the person's wishes.