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DEAR ABBY: I am a schoolteacher. Last year I had a brief affair with a much older, married man. He was the principal of my school. I was deeply in love with him and ready to leave my husband to be with him. However, I got cold feet and chose to stay in my marriage, although it had been less than perfect for years.

I confessed everything to my husband, and then told the principal my decision. I haven't seen him since.

I feel an overpowering need to apologize to my lover for what I did to him. You see, I lied and led my husband and the school board to believe that I had been taken advantage of. I called him a "sexual predator" who had forced me into the affair, and he was forced to resign from the school.

Abby, he did not take advantage of me. I knew exactly what I was doing. In fact, I still have strong feelings for him.

Please tell me what I can do to set the record straight and find peace. -- REMORSEFUL IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR REMORSEFUL: It won't be easy. Begin by telling your husband the truth. Next, write a letter to the school board and tell them exactly what you have told me. That will "set the record straight." Your clergyperson will have to help you find peace, because you have a lot to atone for. Please don't wait.

Remember, the longest journey starts with a single step.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old, stay-at-home mom with two beautiful little girls. My youngest daughter, "Tanya," is 5 and suffers from seizures and mental problems. I feel I'm not a good mother because her condition consumes me and all I ever do is cry. I told my husband, "Steve," that I would like to look into putting Tanya in a group home, but he adamantly refuses. Steve says we will separate before that happens.

I love my husband and my child, but I feel I'm going crazy. I have no life. We've spoken to professionals; nothing they suggested is helpful. Steve's mother promised to help, but she makes excuses as to why she can't watch Tanya. I'm out of ideas. What should I do? I have to save my sanity. -- ALONE AND CONFUSED IN TEXAS

DEAR ALONE AND CONFUSED: It appears you are shouldering all the responsibility for Tanya. However, you also have your older child to consider. If you are a basket case, you will be unable to parent either child properly.

It's time to talk to Tanya's doctor about what options are available -- respite care to take some of the strain off you, or a group home for your child. Do not give in to your husband's blackmail. He can't care for her by himself, and his mother has already proven she won't step in. Please take care of yourself. By doing so, you'll be doing the right thing for both your daughters.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have a wonderful relationship. We have seen both good and hard times during our 30 years together. My problem is our sex life died about two years ago.

I love my wife dearly. I don't want to hurt her, but I still have physical needs despite having had a stroke, a heart attack, four bypasses and arthritis. I have also been disabled since 1988 due to a back injury.

Abby, what can I do? My wife knows how strong my sex drive is, but she will no longer try anything sexual. Please help. -- STILL SLEEPING (ONLY) IN THE SAME BED

DEAR STILL SLEEPING: Have a frank talk with your wife. She may be afraid that sex could endanger your health. If that's the case, have your doctor reassure her it is safe. If that's not the problem, she should have her hormone levels checked.

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