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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Who Ran From Family Yearns to Return to the Fold

DEAR ABBY: A year ago, I made a horrible mistake. I ran away from home. I am not a child -- I am a 40-year-old wife and mother.

I was unhappy with my husband and walked away from my life. I left everything: my kids, my clothes, and the mementos I had collected my entire life.

For a long time before that, I felt unneeded and alone. My husband talked to me mostly in irritated tones -- as if everything I said to him was stupid or worthless. My teen-aged sons were disrespectful or ignored me altogether. Their father thought it was funny and said it was my fault. So I ran.

I have had no contact with anyone for a year. Not my kids, my mother or any of my friends. I am lonely and miserable. I suffer from depression. I had a bad case of endometriosis and large fibroids. I am recovering from a full hysterectomy.

The reason I am writing is that I miss my family. I want so much to hug my sons and make sure they are all right. After what I have done, I am not sure I have that right any longer. I don't want to cause more upheaval in their lives. I love them very much, and I know what I did was wrong. I probably don't deserve their forgiveness.

Maybe I should stay out of their lives for good, but my heart aches. I am so confused and scared -- but mostly lonely. I really need your advice. -- LOST MOTHER IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR LOST: What you did was irrational, and whether it was triggered by your depression or a hormonal imbalance is anybody's guess. Before trying to contact your family, I urge you to schedule some sessions with a counselor to be sure you're strong enough to face what may lie ahead. Once you're on firmer emotional footing, the counselor -- or a clergyperson -- should mediate and facilitate the family reunion. I wish you the best of luck.

DEAR ABBY: I must respond to the letter from "Stamp Out Stereotyping," who asked why patrons of the parents' "ethnic" restaurant assume that he/she has no command of the English language.

The situation described is not unusual. It is an example of lack of sophistication. As Fernando Lamas said on the Johnny Carson show many years ago: Do not make fun of people who speak with an accent -- they know more languages than YOU do.

The other side of the coin is the Native American man (he called himself an Indian) I met in Santa Fe, N.M., a while ago. He was a graduate student at Harvard, educated and articulate.

During Fiesta, the town's big celebration, he would dress himself in his "Indian outfit," speak like Tonto from "The Lone Ranger," and sell cheap trinkets to the tourists at exorbitant prices. The customers were completely fooled, and my friend laughed all the way to the bank.

So, you never know! -- TOM H., ASHLAND, ORE.

DEAR TOM: I can say without reservation that the young man had a wicked sense of humor as well as an astute sense of business.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

"Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live;

"And sunshine forever impart;

"Let us oft speak kind words to each other;

"Kind words are sweet tones of the heart."

-- Joseph L. Townsend (Submitted by Emilio Caballero)

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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