DEAR ABBY: I'm a man who feels all alone in the world. My mother once told me I was the "experimental child" (seeing as I'm the oldest of two).
My girlfriend doesn't understand the living hell of post-traumatic stress from a tour in Iraq, and every time I need comforting, I am pushed away. The only friends who I'm in contact with are her family. Support from my family isn't easy to get.
My father, a Vietnam veteran, understands what I'm going through, but has told me he chooses to stay away because he's afraid of a possible relapse. Help! -- STRESSED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR STRESSED: Consider this: You may have been the "experimental child," but the outcome was obviously a success because your mother went on to bring another child into the world.
I'm not sure that anyone who hasn't been through it -- or isn't a trained psychotherapist -- can truly understand the pain of post-traumatic stress. And that is why I'm urging you to contact your nearest veterans hospital.
More than in wars past, the military medical system seems to appreciate that a large number of vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will need professional help to overcome their trauma. Help is available, so please don't wait to reach out for it. And while you're at it, take your father with you, because it appears he could use some help, too.
Please let me hear from you again in a few months, because I care. And I have a strong hunch you will have started the healing process.
DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter is pregnant with her third child. We are all excited about the arrival. We were recently told of the baby's name, which is beautiful. My only concern is the way it's being spelled.
The name will be spelled as "Jasiela," although the mother-to-be is pronouncing it "Gisella." Do I need to address the way she's spelling it, for the sake of the child? -- HESITANT IN HITCHCOCK, TEXAS
DEAR HESITANT: Yes. When the little girl gets to school, her classmates and teachers will naturally want to pronounce her name the way it is spelled. And phonetically, "Jasiela" would be pronounced "Jazzy-Ella." It will cause far less confusion if Mom learns the correct spelling for the name she has chosen.
DEAR ABBY: I am 10 years old and I'm concerned about my 11-year-old friend. I'll call her "Riley." We're in the same class at school, and every day I hear her say, "I need to lose weight. I'm sooo fat." Then she tells me, "I want your body. You're so skinny."
But Abby, Riley isn't fat at all! She's really skinny. Just because I weigh in the 60s and 70s, she wants to be me! I don't want Riley to become anorexic, and I try to help her, but she won't listen to me. Please help. -- RILEY'S FRIEND, MONROE, N.Y.
DEAR FRIEND: For someone so young, you are a very sharp girl. When a thin person looks in the mirror and sees herself as "fat," it could, indeed, indicate that the person may need professional help. Please tell your teacher what you have told me. The teacher can see to it that Riley's mother is made aware of her daughter's problem -- because that's what it is, and it could lead to an eating disorder if she doesn't already have one.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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