DEAR ABBY: Earlier this year, you printed a poem, "Words of Love?" about what abusers say. My wife told me for years that I was abusing her, but I didn't believe it. I grew up in a home where we were severely controlled and abused by our father. My brother and sister were also sexually abused by Dad. I'm lucky I escaped that kind of abuse. We have all confronted him. He has no remorse for what he did.
When I read the poem, I realized that I had been abusing my wife. Since my whole life had been built on not being like my father, I don't know how I let this happen.
I cut the poem out and had it laminated. I always carry it with me. I will NEVER say those things to my wife -- or any woman -- again.
I gave my wife a copy of the poem with the abuses highlighted that I had committed, along with flowers, my sincere apology, and my promise never to abuse her again.
It's amazing how much better I feel about myself since I recognized my abusive behavior and decided to change. The poem said abusers don't change, but as God is my witness, I will. I am seeing a therapist in an attempt to deal with my childhood and put the "old me" behind me.
Abby, had I not read your column, I never would have seen myself in the mirror of that poem. You get credit for changing my life. -- G. IN TEXAS
DEAR G.: I am pleased that you saw yourself in that poem and made a commitment to change. Please let me know in a year if the change is permanent. I hope and pray that it will be. I'm rooting for you.
P.S. I hope that your brother and sister reported your father's sexual abuse to the police. He belongs on a list of sexual predators, particularly if there are any small children living near him.
DEAR ABBY: Ever since my husband and I got married, we have showered together almost daily. Neither of us wants to stop this daily ritual, but as our first child becomes more aware of her surroundings, we are concerned about whether we need to stop.
We don't intend to shower in front of her, but we don't know how we should react if she accidentally walks in on us.
Our lives have become more complex, and we hate to give up the few moments we still have alone -- but we don't want to cause any psychological harm to our children either. -- WATER CONSERVATIONIST IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR WATER CONSERVATIONIST: I see no reason to stop showering with your husband. If your child intrudes, simply grab a towel and keep your cool.
DEAR ABBY: Yesterday, as I read your column on the bus, my eyes filled with tears, and I was overcome with thoughts of my father. I was lucky to have had one of the greatest fathers who ever lived. He was a special man, and he made me feel special. Sadly, one rainy, spring morning in 1998, Dad never woke up.
After reading about all the experiences your readers had in finding pennies from their loved ones, I regained my composure and exited the bus. As my foot hit the pavement, I looked down. There, shining up at me, was a bright 1998 penny, gleaming on the rain-soaked sidewalk! I picked it up because I knew it was a penny from my angel Dad. I'll never part with it. -- DAD'S GIRL
DEAR DAD'S GIRL: I'm glad you found a token of your father's love for you. It's nice to have a tangible reminder.
The "pennies from heaven" letters are still coming in. It's a subject that has touched the hearts of many.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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