DEAR ABBY: My beloved husband of 32 years, "Loren," passed away last year after a long illness. I took an extensive leave from work to be at his side.
Several weeks ago, after I returned from work, my doorbell rang. On my doorstep was a tall, well-mannered, 19-year-old young woman asking for a "few minutes of my time." (My children are ages 29 and 27.)
This young woman claims she is my husband's daughter, the product of an affair between him and her mother, whom he met at a local sporting event. Loren was very active in sports. He was a former physical education teacher and coach. She produced a photo of herself with Loren and her mother, taken on her fifth birthday -- and another with Loren and her mother, who was visibly pregnant.
I felt as though I'd been kicked in the stomach. She told me Loren had stayed in touch, paid child support in cash, and bought her gifts and clothing. His name, however, is not on her birth certificate. She has asked me for some "keepsakes" from Loren, and said he had promised to help her financially with college tuition.
Please tell me what to do. I haven't told anyone about this, not even my children. I'm too ashamed and shocked. -- HEARTSICK IN N.Y.
DEAR HEARTSICK: The first thing you should do is call your lawyer. For her to have hit you with this news the way she did was brutal. I wouldn't blame you if you made no further communication with her except through your lawyer, and let him (or her) be your guide.
DEAR ABBY: My brother, "Don," is 13. There is a 13-year age difference between us. Lately, Don has not been himself. He used to talk with me about his problems. Now he won't discuss anything more than the weather or everyday things. He used to be caring and happy. Now he's angry a lot, sometimes to the point that he hits himself in the face.
When I ask Don why he does this, he gets upset and says he doesn't care anymore. Mom and Dad work a lot. I know my little brother is not on drugs. I checked. Is this just part of being a teen? How can I help him? -- BROTHER IN ALABAMA
DEAR BROTHER: When someone becomes angry, the normal impulse is to strike out. For some reason your brother is directing his anger back on himself. Whatever is at the root of his anger and unhappiness, the quickest way to get him the help he needs is to tell your parents what you have observed. Hitting oneself in the face could be a sign of psychological problems that should be treated by a mental health professional.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend wets the bed every night. Don't tell me to have him see a doctor; he won't. He just says he can't help it. What is your advice? I can't take it anymore. -- CAN'T STAND IT IN N.J.
DEAR CAN'T STAND IT: It's sad that your boyfriend refuses to consult a urologist about his bed-wetting, because there are medications and devices that could solve the problem. He may simply be unaware that there is help for his problem. If he still refuses to see a doctor, there is nothing you or I can do, and because you can no longer tolerate it, it may be time to tell him goodbye.
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