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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Janice" and I have been friends for nearly 10 years. A few months ago, her husband, "Jimmy," confided to my husband he was having an affair and planned to leave Janice and the children to live with his lover. Jimmy swore my husband to secrecy, but of course my husband told me everything. There are no secrets in our home.

Jimmy told Janice only that he wanted a separation. She was devastated. In the meantime, Jimmy's lover left him and went back to her husband. Because Jimmy didn't want to be alone, he stayed with Janice, saying he had changed his mind about the separation and wanted to work things out.

Janice has no idea what her husband has been up to. She thinks his wanting to leave was all her fault. Now she's bending over backward trying to make Jimmy's life as comfortable and cozy as possible so he won't want to separate again.

It makes me sick to see that louse get away with it, while my friend is walking on eggshells. I'm having a hard time keeping quiet. Every time I'm around Janice I practically bite my tongue off! Should I tell her the truth? -- CONCERNED FRIEND IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

DEAR CONCERNED FRIEND: Recognize that if you tell her, there will be a nuclear explosion -- and the fallout will land on you and your husband.

That said, Janice should know that her husband has a wandering eye and that it's "possible" while her husband was "considering separation," he had sex with someone else. Encourage Janice to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as a precaution. She deserves to know so she can protect herself, because I predict it's only a matter of time until her husband strays again.

DEAR ABBY: I am a twice-married woman about to turn 30, with a wonderful husband and three beautiful sons. We own our home, have two nice cars, food on the table and clothes on our backs. However, I'm feeling like my life is in a black hole and I'm desperate to get out.

I am the primary caregiver for my mother, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. I am about to lose my job of 12 years due to downsizing, and our financial situation will definitely take a downturn when I'm unemployed.

My father (who is in ailing health) lives out of town, and although I'd love to visit him, going there with my husband and kids is just too hard.

During the past year, I gained a great deal of weight and can't seem to find the time or energy to get it off. I have severe migraines and feel like a time bomb waiting to explode.

Any advice on how to pull one's self up from the pits, Abby? Lately I have experienced more than one occasion of wanting to run away -- and that in itself frightens the living daylights out of me. Please help. -- ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER IN SOUTHERN UTAH

DEAR ON THE BRINK: Considering everything that's going on in your life, it's no wonder you are feeling overwhelmed. You appear to be experiencing a combination of stress, depression and caregiver burnout. A good place to start finding remedies is your doctor. Call and schedule an exam and truth session.

Also, contact the nearest chapter of the Alzheimer's Association for the location of a senior respite-care facility for your mother. You appear to be a conscientious wife, mother and daughter, but even the best of us sometimes need a helping hand. Good luck.

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