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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Is Drenched in Sorrow After Dousing Former Flame

DEAR ABBY: I was a mother of two young children and a happily married woman until I got involved with a married former flame. Years ago I was crazy about him, but he didn't feel the same about me so I went on with my life. When our paths crossed several months ago, neither one of us thought we'd be unfaithful to our spouses, but we couldn't stay away, and I fell totally in love with him again. We both agreed we are soul mates, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.

The affair has now ended, and I am having a hard time going on with my life. I don't feel the same about my husband -- who is a wonderful husband and father. I feel so lucky I didn't get caught and lose everything. I want my happiness with my life back. I know if I hadn't crossed that line I wouldn't be in this mess. I'm afraid to go to counseling, as it may draw attention from my husband -- but I don't know how to cope and let go of those feelings of love for the other man.

Can people really fall back in love after having an affair? What can I do to get on with my life? I am trying to be strong one day at a time. -- SORRY NOW IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR SORRY NOW: Take the chance and get counseling. It will help you assess what made you so vulnerable to the affair, and to take stock of what's important in your marriage. Yes, it is possible for couples to "fall in love again." And one of the strongest motivators is recognizing the reasons they needed each other in the first place.

DEAR ABBY: You advised a reader who signed herself "Stacking the Odds in Oregon" to contact Al-Anon and inquire about an intervention program for her mother. I have been an Al-Anon member for more than eight years and would like to set the record straight because Al-Anon has changed my life.

Al-Anon is NOT a referral program. Please do NOT call if you are looking for a rehabilitation center, intervention program or therapist. Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization or institution. Al-Anon does not engage in any controversy, and neither endorses nor opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership; Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.

Al-Anon is a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics.

Because of Al-Anon, my life is filled with joy, friendship, hope and love, where once there was only sadness, loneliness, despair and anger. Please, Abby, let your readers know that if they are affected by another person's drinking, Al-Anon may help. We're in the phone book. -- AL-ANONYMOUS IN TARZANA, CALIF.

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Thank you for writing to remind me that if people need intervention for someone with an alcohol or drug problem, it must be arranged with the institution in which the patient will be detoxed or rehabilitated -- NOT Al-Anon! I needed the reminder, and I want only to steer my readers in the right direction.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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