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by Abigail Van Buren

Stepson's Drug Addiction May Be the Death of His Dad

DEAR ABBY: I am 44, a newly single mother of three young children. Two years ago I discovered that my husband had been leading a double life -- including lying, cheating, stealing and substance abuse. One of his affairs was with my favorite cousin, "Charlotte." I had always looked up to her. The news was devastating.

Equally devastating is the reaction of my family. They consider Charlotte to be a "victim" of my former husband. They say I should get over it and move on. They want to invite her to family functions, including my youngest sister's wedding, in which my children and I have been asked to participate.

Since the affair, Charlotte has continued to be an alcoholic. She has never attempted to apologize appropriately. Once she did, but she was drunk and refused to take responsibility for her actions. Out of respect for my feelings, I think Charlotte should be excluded from the wedding. If she is invited, I'm not sure my children and I will attend. What do you think? -- OUTRAGED IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR OUTRAGED: You should thank your higher power that you're rid of the substance-abusing, morally challenged philanderer you married. He had the affair with Charlotte because she was handy, vulnerable and addled by alcohol. She has tried to apologize, but because she was drunk couldn't get her message across. Does this absolve her? No! But until Charlotte sobers up, expecting an "appropriate" apology is as unrealistic as asking someone with a broken leg to tap-dance.

Take part in the wedding and allow yourself to have a good time. Stop nursing your anger for Charlotte and direct it where it belongs -- at your ex. Do this if not for yourself, then in the name of family unity. No woman is an island, and with your current mind-set, you're only isolating yourself.