DEAR ABBY: My mom died of an aneurysm 23 years ago. I was only 7. I occasionally hear an aunt or uncle talk about how much they loved her and miss her.
I moved in with an aunt when I was 5, due to abuse from my father. Two years later, my mom was gone. As kids, my brother and I never received counseling. We bounced from home to home and finally ended up in a stable environment with our grandma.
I usually feel guilty when people talk about my mom because I cannot relate. I tell myself that maybe God sacrificed her so I could have a good life. Sometimes, I feel more anger than love toward her because of the abuse and abandonment.
What am I supposed to feel about her? Can someone love a person they never knew? To be honest, I don't know how to feel about my mother. -- EMOTIONLESS IN OKLAHOMA CITY
DEAR EMOTIONLESS: It is very difficult to love someone you never knew. And from your description of your childhood, your feelings are understandable. However, because those feelings are bothering you and creating guilt, they should be discussed with a licensed professional. If you do, you will gain a better understanding not only of yourself, but also the dynamics in your family. You do not deserve to be carrying around any guilt at all.
DEAR ABBY: When people have a serious illness, their friends and family usually send "Get Well" messages and flowers to the hospital. Unfortunately, it isn't the custom to send supportive greetings and gifts to those who are dealing with psychiatric illnesses. These people deserve all of the attention and good wishes that other patients receive.
Please let it be known that psychiatric illnesses are treatable and recovery is possible. Support in all forms is essential in all patients' progress toward recovering from serious illness of any kind. -- KATHY IN UNIVERSAL CITY, TEXAS
DEAR KATHY: You make a good point. The reason some people may be hesitant to acknowledge someone's mental illness may be the stigma that's still attached to these kinds of problems. For that same reason, there may be a reluctance on the part of the patient's family to reveal there is a problem so serious their family member must be hospitalized.
But you're absolutely right. When people are ill, they need to know they're cared about -- and a card with warm good wishes is a step in the right direction.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 14 and have a big problem. My teacher, "Mrs. Smith," adores me. She is always calling on me and telling the class about all the things I'm doing correctly. After she does it, the other kids glare at me and call me "Teacher's Pet." It makes me uncomfortable, but I can't help it if Mrs. Smith likes me. What should I do? -- DON'T WANT TO BE TEACHER'S PET
DEAR DON'T: When a student excels at athletics, music or drama, it usually makes the boy or girl a celebrity on campus. Sadly, the same is often not true when a student excels at academics, and it's a shame. Because being used as an example is making you a target, ask your teacher to tone it down. And if it doesn't happen, have your mother speak to the teacher and/or the principal, if necessary.
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