DEAR ABBY: I'm 12 and adopted. I have always known and have never felt less loved because of it. My mom always said that when you're adopted, you know that you are wanted and loved because nobody gets adopted by accident.
My 14-year-old sister, "Melissa," is our parents' natural child. We were always close, but lately she has decided to be mean to me and tries to hurt me by telling me that I'm not her "real" sister and our parents aren't my "real" parents. This hurts very much. If I cry, she thinks it's funny. She never says it in front of our parents -- she wouldn't dare.
Melissa used to tease me when we were alone in our room, but now she does it in front of her friends, who also laugh at me when I get upset and cry. Melissa would be in big trouble if I told Mom, but I'm afraid it will make her even meaner. I don't want to get her in trouble because, in spite of this, I still love her. I just want her to stop being mean and start treating me like her real sister again. Abby, what should I do? -- REAL SISTER IN TACOMA
DEAR REAL SISTER: Clip this and show it to "Miss Melissa." I have news for her. Parents who raise a child ARE "real" mothers and fathers. And you are as "real" a sister as Melissa is likely to get.
Her behavior is cruel, insensitive and immature. She's doing it because you have allowed her to get away with it. Give your sister one warning. Tell her that if she repeats that nonsense again, you will tell your "real" mother, who also happens to be HER mother. And if she's foolish enough to try it -- follow through.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in my 20s and work as a cashier in a convenience store. One of my regulars recently won the lottery.
I am newly married and have a 7-month-old. We live with my in-laws, and we're dying to get our own place.
The lottery winner is somewhat good-looking, but about 20 years older than I am. Abby, he propositioned me -- if you know what I mean. He offered a large sum of money, which would help my family get our own place.
I'm confused. What do I do? -- DESPERATELY SEEKING MY OWN PLACE IN TEXAS
DEAR DESPERATELY SEEKING: You're not confused; your customer is. He may have won the lottery, but he's a loser. You are a cashier, not a prostitute. Tell him there are some things money can't buy -- and one of them is YOU.
DEAR ABBY: I participate in a depression forum. One question comes up repeatedly, and I have yet to find a decent answer.
What is the best way to answer someone who inquires about a self-inflicted scar? And are there ways to hide scars besides wearing long sleeves or pants all the time? Should we even feel that we have to hide them? -- GETTING BEYOND MY PAST IN HONOLULU
DEAR GETTING BEYOND: Because over the years I have heard from (and about) young people who have tried to cope with severe depression by cutting themselves instead of seeking the counseling they need, I am sure that question comes up with some frequency. The problem with "cover-ups" is sooner or later -- like scars -- the truth is exposed.
The honest answer to someone you trust is simply to tell the truth. For others, make light of the question ("Oh, those darn rose bushes ...") and steer the conversation to another subject.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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