DEAR ABBY: When I was 12, my cousin "Larry" gave me a hallucinogen-laced candy bar and raped me. I struggled with depression and anxiety during all of my teenage and young adult years. The herpes I got from him left me with lifelong issues.
With the support of Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA) and a therapist, I was eventually able to process the terrible repressed memories. My journey of recovery and healing includes living with healthy boundaries -- so when my father died, I made it known that Larry was not welcome at the funeral. My cousin "Janet" was very upset by my choice. She has been ignoring me since. I am hurt by her behavior, but not devastated.
Abby, I'd appreciate your printing this letter to encourage other survivors so they, too, can live full lives with boundaries. We do not have to allow ourselves to be ruled by dysfunctional family issues. Thank you. -- GRATEFUL RECOVERING SURVIVOR IN NEW YORK
DEAR SURVIVOR: You're right, you don't. And because funerals are to comfort the living, and Cousin Larry's presence would have been upsetting, you were right to exclude him.
Survivors of Incest Anonymous, a 12-step program for persons 18 years or older who have been victims of child sexual abuse, has been mentioned in my column before. It has been successful in helping people who were traumatized by childhood abuse become -- as the name indicates -- survivors. It offers assistance in starting groups, a volunteer information and referral line, and also sells literature and a newsletter. Its website is � HYPERLINK "http://www.siawso.org" ��www.siawso.org�.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 25-year-old guy. Two years ago I saw the cutest guy at work I had ever seen. After finally working up enough courage, I asked "Peter" to go out with me -- as friends. The more I got to know him, the harder I fell for him. Peter is quiet, intelligent, a perfect balance between introvert and extrovert. For lack of a better word, he is "distinctive" -- unlike any person I have ever met.
Earlier this year he asked me to be his roommate. I was unsure if that was a wise decision, knowing how strongly I feel for him. I decided to do it, wondering whether Peter's feelings for me would strengthen as he got to know me better through our living arrangement. We have discussed our goals in life, and Peter says he doesn't want to be in a serious relationship until he reaches his 30s. (He's my age.) That said, I have gotten mixed signals.
Abby, I am ready for a relationship and I want it to be with him. Should I tell him how I feel? I worry that if I don't say something now, I may lose my chance to someone else. -- HEAD OVER HEELS IN WISCONSIN
DEAR HEAD OVER HEELS: Remaining silent is not a solution to your problem. But neither is forcing Peter into making a premature commitment he doesn't feel he's ready for. You need to tell him your feelings without demanding a commitment from him to determine if your feelings are in any way reciprocated. Then you can decide whether or not you need to move on. I can imagine few things more painful than loving someone and having to watch that person become romantically involved with others.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)