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by Abigail Van Buren

Cleansing Tears Erase Stain of Terrorist Attacks

DEAR ABBY: "Double Victim in Indiana" compared the events of Sept. 11 to a rape. My daughter Kelly, who is 24, had the same feeling and wrote a poem expressing it. It was published in our local paper. I thought you might like to share it with your readers. -- SHEILA PHILLIPS, PROUD MOM, QUOGUE, N.Y.

DEAR SHEILA: You have every right to be proud. Your daughter's poem is a knockout, and I'm pleased to share it with my readers. Read on:

A BRIGHT, SUNNY DAY

by Kelly Phillips

Is it a bright, sunny day with freedom in the air

That fosters pure fright, forcing people to stare

Up in the sky and only to see

An epidemic of evil raping you and me?

Tell me, what is the beauty of a bright, sunny day

When hatred erupts in a toxic display

Of blood and bones, of steel and stones,

Of blackest black, of screams and moans?

And so I say, let it rain a relentless pour.

Let humanity find a way not to ignore

This shameful show of cowardice from the weak,

And return to the honor and the normalcy we seek.

Yes, let it rain.

Let the souls cry of those from wars past,

Free their tears from the sky.

Let them weep and cleanse us from such sordid dismay

So we may once again appreciate

A bright, sunny day.

DEAR ABBY: As we struggle with the emotional impact of the large-scale damage and loss of life, and the feelings of uncertainty following the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., we must be aware that stressful times can be particularly difficult for people who are vulnerable to substance abuse or recovering from addiction.

Research and clinical experience have demonstrated that high levels of stress can lead individuals to turn to drugs, alcohol or tobacco in an attempt to alleviate their anxiety. Stress is one of the most powerful triggers for relapses in recovering addicts, even after long periods of abstinence.

We must all be attentive to how we, our family, friends and colleagues are responding to these tragic events. We must be alert to increases in substance abuse and seek professional help, and encourage others to do the same if it's needed.

Information about the prevention and treatment of drug abuse can be found on the National Institute on Drug Abuse Web site at www.drugabuse.gov. -- ALAN I. LESHNER, PH.D., DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE

DEAR DR. LESHNER: Thank you for the information. I'm printing your letter to alert my readers that stress can lead to "bingeing" behavior that includes sex and food, as well as substance abuse.

So what's a person to do in an effort to cope with stress? Recognize when you need help and locate a support group, begin a program of regular cardiovascular exercise, yoga or meditation, associate with positive people, and volunteer your free time to better the lives of those less fortunate in your local communities. All these are HEALTHY ways to banish stress and take your mind off your troubles. (And yes, everyone backslides now and then; the solution is to forgive yourself, re-dedicate yourself to your goal and move forward.)

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

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 $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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