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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter's Rejection Adds to Terminally Ill Man's Pain

DEAR ABBY: My identical twin sister "Gwen" and I were close our whole lives. She married and had two children, while I stayed single. Because our lives took different directions, we have not been as close over the past couple of years because Gwen was busy raising her family.

She has recently gone through a divorce and is the primary caregiver of her children. She doesn't have a job. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells around her. She has threatened several times to kill herself, and she starts horrible arguments with our parents and me.

I have tried to help out and watch her kids when I could, but I have a full schedule and need to make time for my other relationships. After being threatened a couple of times, I finally stopped talking to her because I was tired of turning the other cheek to her outrageous, violent behavior.

I love my twin and miss our close relationship. I understand the stress of being an unemployed, single mother of two, but I can't continue putting up with the weekly arguments. Is there any hope we can be close again? Gwen was in counseling for a while. What can I do to help resolve things without turning into a doormat again? -- MIRROR IMAGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR MIRROR IMAGE: Your sister's violent outbursts and threats of suicide are indications that she is suffering from some significant emotional problems. Until and unless she gets more professional help, nothing you can do will "resolve things." The best thing you and your family can do is encourage her to get more counseling and remain close enough to her to be sure her children are safe.