DEAR ABBY: Is 33 too young for a man to have a midlife crisis? I honestly believe that is what's happening to my husband. We have been married almost 13 years and have three children. Suddenly he wants out. Don't get me wrong, although our marriage has been rocky, I truly believed that we loved each other.
He says he has been unhappy for years, and I'm the only one who didn't see it. He now has a girlfriend and talks about having his body pierced, etc. I spend each day praying he'll return to his senses and come back.
Does the hurt ever go away? One day I'm happy-go-lucky, and the next I spend crying. Am I crazy? Is it possible to love and hate someone all at once? I need a dose of wisdom from someone besides my family and friends. Please help me. I'm trying to hold it together for the children, but it gets harder with each passing day. -- IN TURMOIL IN TENNESSEE
DEAR IN TURMOIL: You and your husband married young. If a midlife crisis can be defined as panic that life has passed a person by and doing something irrational, then that may be what has happened to your husband.
However, from where I sit, it appears that your husband has taken up with a wild-and-free woman, which has caused temporary amnesia. He has "forgotten" to be a responsible father of three and a husband. This is less a mental breakdown than a moral failure.
Considering the way you have been blindsided, I'd say your mood swings are normal. This may seem like small consolation, but with time, your hurt and anger will subside to the point that they are not all-consuming.
Right now, you need the support of friends and family. You also need to begin thinking seriously about how to create a life for yourself should Mr. Pincushion make his absence permanent. If he does eventually come to his senses, it will make you more attractive. If he doesn't, it will make you stronger, more self-reliant, and help to distract you from the pain you're experiencing. You have my sympathy, but please believe me when I tell you that, painful as this may be, it does not have to be the end of the world.
DEAR ABBY: My stepsister, who I have to share my room with when she stays with us, snooped in my drawers when I wasn't there and found my birth control pills. Now she's blackmailing me. She says she will tell my mother if I don't give her money.
Mother would go crazy if she found out I was using the pill. I know she wouldn't let me see my boyfriend anymore, and I couldn't handle that. I never thought I would feel like killing somebody, but that's the way I feel right now. Please tell me what to do. I don't want to give in to blackmail. -- VICTIMIZED IN WYOMING
DEAR VICTIMIZED: Murder isn't an option, and neither is giving in to blackmail. If you give a blackmailer money, the demands will only escalate -- which leaves you with one other choice: Tell your mother before she does.
While the pill may protect you against pregnancy, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. And because you are now sexually active, you need to be seen by a gynecologist to be sure you don't have one.
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-sized, 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 in the price.)
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