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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Buddy" for 20 years. During the past seven years, we went through some big problems. I used to plead with him to pay more attention to me, but he never felt I was important enough. It's taken me years, but I have finally learned to live my life to the fullest without him.

Well, now all of a sudden Buddy has noticed that I am no longer "crying and clinging" to him. And get this: NOW he wants to be the perfect husband!

Abby, I grew so accustomed to being without Buddy that now I don't know what I want. I still love him, but I don't know if I want to remain in this marriage. The tables have turned, and I feel suffocated by all his sudden attention -- which I used to long for. I don't know what to make of all this. Can you please tell me what you think? -- WIFE WHO CHANGED HER LIFE

DEAR WIFE: Whatever was distracting your husband has come to an end. During his emotional absence you wisely developed other resources.

You and Buddy could benefit from marriage counseling. It will get you both back on the same track -- if that's what you both really want.

DEAR ABBY: I recently began experiencing anxiety attacks. They started so unexpectedly, I didn't realize what was happening to me. I would sweat profusely, become nauseated, and my legs would feel weak and shaky. I went to my family doctor and was checked out, but he found nothing physically wrong.

My health insurance provider gave me the phone number for a mental health hotline. I called and was immediately put in touch with a counselor. I have been seeing the counselor for three weeks, and my attacks are noticeably less severe.

Abby, please advise your readers who suffer from this that they are not alone. There is help out there. Nobody should feel embarrassed about asking for it. Seeing my life through someone else's eyes has made me understand how difficult and stressful this past year has been without my realizing it. -- ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY IN LAS VEGAS

DEAR ON THE ROAD: I have always considered psychotherapy to be attending the "University of You." The course may be challenging, but it's always informative, and almost everyone can benefit from it.

DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and do not get along well with my mother, mostly because we are so much alike. My problem may seem childish and immature, but my mother goes through EVERYTHING of mine. She routinely goes through my dresser and desk drawers, my backpack and my purse. She gets angry if she finds a journal entry or note to a friend containing a remark about her.

I say she shouldn't be searching through my personal things in the first place. Am I unreasonable to ask for a little privacy? Has she crossed the line, or am I just being overly sensitive? -- NO PRIVACY IN PLANO, TEXAS

DEAR NO PRIVACY: Everyone is entitled to some privacy -- even teen-agers. However, until you reach legal age, your parents are responsible for your health, education and growth. Whether or not your mother has "crossed the line" depends upon the other aspects of your relationship with her. She may go through your things because you don't communicate with her. If you are secretive about what's going on in your life, of course she will pry.

Be smart and earn your privacy the easy way, by volunteering information, being absolutely honest, talking about your friends, your dates, where you're going and when you expect to be home. Try it -- it works.

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

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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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