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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am so mad! My husband doesn't understand my feelings and told me to write and ask for your opinion.

We threw a swimming party for our son's fifth birthday. We invited a few of his closest friends from kindergarten, along with their parents, and his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

I went inside to change my clothes and ran smack into a burglar. He tied me up with cords from the window blinds; then he used one of my husband's ties to gag me and left me squirming on the floor. I was bound so tightly I couldn't work my way out of the room.

I figured someone would come looking for me. I am an extrovert, and I was sure my absence would not go unnoticed. I wriggled around for what seemed like an eternity before anyone came looking for me. In reality, it was 45 minutes of misery before my husband walked in, trailed by our children.

My family and our guests had not noticed I was missing for all of that time! Abby, I was crushed. They have tried to explain it away, but I am mortified. I can't seem to get over this. My family thinks I am making too much of it, but I find myself breaking down in tears all the time. What do you think I should do to get over this and get my life back on track? -- ALL TIED UP IN PALM SPRINGS

DEAR TIED UP: You have my sympathy, and there is a name for what you are experiencing: It is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It often occurs in people who have survived a disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, car accident or being a victim of a crime. The feelings of anger you are aiming at your family and friends should appropriately be aimed at the burglar who invaded your home, hog-tied you and violated your sense of security.

Before any more time elapses, I urge you to ask your doctor to refer you to a psychotherapist who specializes in PTSD. Please don't wait to make the call, because it's the quickest way to resolve your anger and feel better.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Danny," is obsessed with his cousin's little daughter, to the point where he thinks she is his (and acts like she's his, too). If Danny doesn't see her often enough, he says he's in "withdrawal." She doesn't live near us, so it's expensive getting her here. Danny is out of work at the present time, and doesn't consider the fact that I'm the one earning the money.

I have an older child from another relationship, and I would love for Danny and me to have one of our own. However, he says we can't afford another child. It hurts me that he wants his cousin's child, but not mine.

Danny accuses me of being jealous. Am I overreacting? -- RESENTFUL IN ILLINOIS

DEAR RESENTFUL: Money may be tight now, but you and Danny could benefit from marriage counseling. Your questions are valid, but the person providing the answers should be your husband -- in the presence of a referee. His attachment to his niece does seem excessive. (Could the child really BE his daughter?)

DEAR ABBY: My live-in boyfriend of 12 years won't let me visit my never-married girlfriends on the East Coast. He says they're man-haters, which has some validity. But these are long-time friends who share intellectual interests he and I do not. How can I manage his feelings and have my freedom, too? -- MANAGING HIS FEELINGS

DEAR MANAGING: You're asking the wrong question. His feelings are his feelings. His insecurities are his insecurities. You can't fix him; only he can do that.

He is only your live-in -- not your husband and not your warden. The question you should be asking yourself is why you are allowing him to dictate who you can and cannot visit.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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