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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Who Couldn't Cut Apron Strings Lost Love of Her Life

DEAR ABBY: Please urge "Wants Freedom From the Apron Strings," the 34-year-old woman who lives with her controlling parents, to run -- not walk -- to get her own apartment. It is the only way she will ever have a life of her own.

Forty years ago, I, too, wanted my freedom from my mother's apron strings. I was 18 and had dated "Tom" for three years. After our high school graduation, Tom invited me to visit him in Tennessee where he was working. I had always been intimidated by my mother. She told me I couldn't go unless I took someone with me. I told Tom what she had said, and he replied, "If I wanted to date the baby sitter, I would invite the baby sitter." I never made it to Tennessee.

Abby, Tom treated me with respect and was always good to me. I knew he loved me. I loved him, and I felt we could have a bright future together.

Every day of my life I regret I did not stand up to my mother. I have loved Tom for 40 years and will never get over him. He is long married, but in my heart he will always be mine. I have seen him from time to time over the years, and I still feel the same way.

Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. The doctor advised me that if I did not leave my mother's house I would have a nervous breakdown. I finally got an apartment of my own. I still live in the same town. My relationship with my mother is full of resentment, even after all these years. I'm afraid I will always be ... CONTROLLED AND TRAPPED

DEAR CONTROLLED AND TRAPPED: I'm sorry you didn't write to me decades ago, because my advice would have been the same. You have many good years ahead of you. Counseling may help you to let go of the resentment you feel for your mother, while helping you to avoid feeling trapped. Only then will you really be free to be your own person.