DEAR ABBY: You advised "Emotionally Bruised" to confront her mother and tell her how she felt. I, too, received a lot of criticism from my mother while growing up. I felt I couldn't do anything right. I took all the criticism out on myself. I became anorexic. It was something I knew I could do right.
I finally realized I had to talk to my mother and stop hurting myself. Believe it or not, not only did Mom listen, she also helped my husband and me financially to get treatment for my disorder.
I wish I could be in "Bruised's" shoes just one more time. I lost my mother last year to cancer. I was able to tell her how much I love her, although I don't know if she heard me. She opened her eyes one time and smiled at me. Mom brought me into this world and I watched her leave. Her nurse told me that Mom talked about me all the time, and how proud she was of me.
Avoiding your mother is a sad choice to make, especially if you haven't tried to talk. I wish my mother were here. I miss talking to her, and wish I had the chance to see and hug her again. Please don't give up. You'll have a lifetime to regret it. -- GLAD I TRIED, JOLIET, ILL.
DEAR GLAD: Your letter brought tears to my eyes. There is no single solution for dealing with emotionally abusive parents who belittle or constantly criticize their children. Sadly, some parents are emotionally dysfunctional. They may have experienced the same kind of treatment from their own parents and are "mirroring" that behavior. As one reader pointed out, those who repeatedly criticize are usually unhappy people who dislike themselves -- so they project their feelings onto their children. If they were happy, they'd be bubbling over with kind words. Those comments show keen insight.
DEAR ABBY: The letter about the "ugly" secretary and your reply reminded me of a story my secretary, "Alice," told me years ago about her son who was in the second grade.
Sonny kept coming home telling his parents how beautiful his new teacher was. Alice and her husband looked forward to meeting this beautiful teacher. The night of the PTA open house finally arrived. When they met Sonny's teacher, they were shocked to see she was a plain, somewhat elderly, woman. After they returned home, they asked their son how he could call his teacher beautiful. He replied, "Because she smiles so pretty."
Abby, may I share another anecdote with you -- this time, my own? I was a part-time food server for many years. I was thrust into my first server's position from a busboy's job when one of the servers called in sick. I was unprepared for that job and uneasy, but what could I do but follow the boss's orders?
On my second night, I had to serve a party of eight. I was terrified I'd make a mistake, but I made it through.
When the gentleman paid the bill, he told me, "You are a good server." I guess he could see my relief and surprise as I stammered a thank-you. He added, "Do you know why I said that? You smile a lot." I have always remembered that. -- ALFRED J. WILSON, SOUTHLAKE, TEXAS
DEAR ALFRED: Your anecdotes clearly illustrate the value of a smile. Thank you for sharing them. They remind me of a line from a song that Al Jolson used to sing: "I'd walk a million miles for one of your smiles ..."
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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