DEAR ABBY: I have been married 19 years to a beautiful, accomplished woman. We have two wonderful children. I fooled around throughout my marriage because I could. I justified it by telling myself the women knew what they were doing, and I never made any false promises about leaving my wife. She suspected a couple of times, but always gave me the benefit of the doubt.
My last affair ended publicly with every gory detail exposed. My family, work, reputation -- everything that mattered to me -- have been destroyed. I can't talk about any of it to a therapist because I am so ashamed. Friends, family and co-workers now shun me. I have hit rock bottom.
If you have a hopeful solution, please share it. Otherwise, please print this as a warning to other men like me that when they hit bottom -- as will surely happen -- there's nowhere to turn. I want to end my life. -- SHATTERED IN LOUISIANA
DEAR SHATTERED: I understand this experience has been painful for all concerned, but stop focusing only about yourself and your pain. Suicide may seem like a solution to your problems, but your children need you alive and functional -- and their needs must take precedence.
Find a therapist -- someone you can relate to, and feel safe enough with to discuss everything that has happened from the beginning.
There is life after divorce. And, as many celebrities can attest, there is also life after public embarrassment and career setbacks. So straighten your backbone and keep marching forward. While it may not seem like it right now, there are better days ahead.
DEAR ABBY: My mother and I rarely get along -- mainly because she thinks she's fabulous and I don't. I'm in my 30s, married with a child and have a career. I am tired of riding an emotional roller coaster with Mother.
She is planning her next visit and I don't want her to come. Her visits end up lasting a week or more, and her conversation consists of complaining, making snide comments about my house and how I am raising my child (under the guise of being "helpful"), and then whining because I don't have the time or desire to entertain or placate her.
Can you tell me how to tell her that visits to my house are no longer welcomed? -- DONE WITH THE DRAMA
DEAR DONE: When your mother raises the subject of her visit, tell her that she would be more comfortable staying at a hotel when she comes and so would you. That way you can control the amount of time you spend together. Offer to split the cost with her, then pray she agrees.
DEAR ABBY: Here's a new one for you. A group of friends and I are frequent customers on some of the home shopping channels. When we buy jewelry it arrives in a gift case or box. We hate to throw them away. Any ideas on how we can donate or recycle those gift boxes? -- DIANA IN LAKEWOOD, CALIF.
DEAR DIANA: Depending upon how you store your jewelry, you could keep the items in their presentation boxes in a drawer with the tops open, so the drawer becomes a large jewelry box and they don't become scratched. Or, save the boxes and reuse them when giving small gifts at Christmas or on birthdays. If you know of any people or groups who make jewelry or other crafts, offer the boxes to them. Otherwise, (sob!) it's off to the landfill.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)