DEAR ABBY: After almost 30 years of marriage, my husband "Grant," took a long-distance trucking job. This leaves me alone on many Sundays and evenings, and I'm having a terrible time adjusting to it. I feel sad lots of times, like I'm living the life of a widow. Being a widow is terrible, but living like one while your husband is still alive seems worse.
I attend any social event that gives me contact with people while Grant is away. Sundays are difficult because I am limited to visiting older women who are widows. My children are grown and live hundreds of miles away, and I don't want to impose on my married friends who have their husbands to do things with.
Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, but it makes me feel distant and bitter. Do other wives of airplane pilots, traveling salesmen, truckers, etc., feel the same way I do? How can I change my attitude? -- TRUCKER WIDOW IN TEXAS
DEAR WIDOW: The surest way to change your attitude is to start celebrating your independence instead of cursing it. You have too much time on your hands. Buy a pet, adopt a hobby, start taking classes while your husband is away, and fill those lonely hours of separation. You can be as happy as you make up your mind to be -- or as miserable. It's a question of mind over matter.
DEAR ABBY: My son was an Apache helicopter pilot in the Army. He was active in the initial invasion of Iraq and spent a year serving his country. It was a very difficult time for me. Eventually I suffered a nervous breakdown from the stress.
My son is now honorably discharged and safe at home. My problem is that friends keep sending me war-related e-mails and updates. If I know what they are by the subject line, I delete them.
Recently, I got an e-mail about a soldier whose job it was to inform the families when their loved ones had been killed. I had an emotional meltdown when I saw it. I know firsthand the fear that family members feel.
I was driving my car when I heard an Apache helicopter went down and two soldiers were taken hostage. I nearly crashed the vehicle. It could have been my son. It taught me not to listen to the news while driving.
How do I tell everyone not to send me correspondence about the war and the goings-on in Iraq? They have no idea how this affects me. I haven't seen this issue addressed in your column. -- SALLY IN DEARBORN, MICH.
DEAR SALLY: I'm sure your friends mean well, so tell them in plain English exactly what you have told me. You should also contact the physician who treated you at the time of your nervous breakdown and explain that you are still experiencing problems. Some sessions with a psychiatrist who specializes in post-traumatic stress may be able to help you finally close this chapter of your life.
DEAR ABBY: My family is going to buy a new sofa and loveseat because our old ones are in very bad shape. Thye're in bad shape because we have two moochers who use them as their bed. So why buy a new set if it will only end up like the old one? Isn't it a waste of money? -- HOLLY IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR HOLLY: Yes, and that is why I'm suggesting that your family wait until you can buy a new sofa, loveseat and an air mattress to accommodate the "moochers." Either that, or learn to say no.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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