DEAR ABBY: I am a 58-year-old woman who has just been dumped by my 55-year-old boyfriend for a younger woman. She is 18, and if that isn't bad enough -- she's my daughter. They are now living together.
For more than a year we functioned as a family. We had regular game nights and took a family vacation together. Because of their betrayal, I have lost my daughter, my boyfriend, the two people I thought were also my best friends, and my family all at the same time. I don't know anyone who has had this happen to them, but unfortunately there must be some out there.
How do I go on? How do I maintain a relationship with my daughter when she is living with my ex-boyfriend? How do I accept what has happened without approving of it? There is so much wrong with this I'm at a loss for rules or tools to handle it. -- IN CRUSHING PAIN IN OREGON
DEAR IN CRUSHING PAIN: There ARE no "rules." And it does occasionally happen -- most famously with Mia Farrow, her adopted daughter and her longtime boyfriend Woody Allen. I believe Ms. Farrow cut off all contact with both of them.
But enough about her. You are going to have to figure out what will work best for you. Your first step should be to seek spiritual support. Sometimes, with time, comes acceptance. But right now, it is crucial that you take care of yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 19 and finally getting my life together. I have already experienced a lot emotionally and physically. I have recently started on the path to sobriety, but there are two problems. In the city where I live there is nothing to do after 10 p.m. if you're not a drunk. My friends from childhood not only do not support me but tell me I should just have a drink.
I know you should keep yourself surrounded by people who will lift you up, but these people have been my close companions for many years, and I don't think I can dismiss them that easily. Please help me. I like how my life is right now, and I need to know how to stay focused. -- DRUNK OR SOBER? IN NEW YORK
DEAR D. OR S.?: If you want to hang onto your sobriety, you are going to have to fight for it. You got off on a wrong path very early, and so did your childhood friends. But now you have an opportunity to make new ones -- the members of your sobriety program. The more time you spend with them, the less time you will have to allow yourself to be seduced into falling off the wagon.
If you're strong enough to do this, you can be a role model for some of your old drinking buddies, and some may decide to join you. But if they don't, you will have made new friends who have also made positive changes in their lives -- and that's not a bad consolation prize.
DEAR ABBY: Please tell me your position on this. Are adult children supposed to take an aging mother with them on vacation? If not, what is a gentle way to say no when the parent invites herself? Please help us. -- UNSURE IN OHIO
DEAR UNSURE: I think it depends upon the relationship between the mother and "child." It also depends upon the purpose of the vacation. If a couple is going away to relax and bond more closely with each other, they do not need a third wheel -- regardless of how much they might love her. And the way to say that is, "We need some alone time, Mom. Please understand."
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