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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 21-year-old male who feels lost and unfulfilled, and it's because I don't know what I want or deserve. I am one of three adopted children. I was the child who always needed the family support system the most. I come from a not-so-happy family, one with all its priorities centered around money. (Or, more accurately, lack of money.) I never felt the love a child should feel from his family.

My problem these days is my alcohol intake. I can't stay away from beer. I drink to forget my family problems and the fact that I can't seem to get anything right.

I dropped out of college because I don't have a passion for anything or anyone. I used to have hobbies -- like writing, photography, etc. -- but the beer has taken away my motivation and creativity.

I feel I'm losing my will to keep trying. I want so badly to keep trying, but my emotions are keeping me down. I just want something new, something I can give my all to, something that won't hurt me in the future. -- WHAT CAN I DO?

DEAR WHAT CAN I DO?: I'm glad you wrote, because I know of a group that may be able to give you the emotional support you need to get back on track and regain control of your life. It's Emotions Anonymous. Founded in 1971, it has 850 chapters worldwide and 450 in the United States. It is a 12-step program for people experiencing emotional difficulties. In these groups, members help each other by sharing experiences, strengths and hopes in order to improve their emotional health. It also offers books and literature to new and existing groups. The email address is eainfo(at) and its website is � HYPERLINK "" ���.

DEAR ABBY: Back in second grade I was friends with "Jessica." A girl named "Kristy" started at my school, and I became friends with her, too. She didn't want me to be friendly with Jessica, and before long I began to pick on Jessica with Kristy. It reached the point where Kristy and two other girls wrote some mean things about Jessica on the blacktop. I didn't write anything, but I got in trouble, too. I knew I'd made a mistake and hurt her, and I felt bad about it.

A year or so later I apologized for what I had done. Jessica said it was OK, but I continued feeling guilty over the years for having teased her and not resisting peer pressure. When I was in high school, I sent her a message online and apologized again. Although she said again it was OK, I feel she still holds some resentment, and I don't blame her.

We're both adults now, and I see her when I shop at the store up the road from my house. Each time I'm in the checkout line she's working in, I get a cold attitude. I have told her I was wrong and have tried to make it up to her. Do I leave it alone or keep trying to reach out to her? -- HEAVY HEART IN MAINE

DEAR HEAVY HEART: Find some other way to expiate your guilt. Jessica has told you twice that you're forgiven. Leave her alone because for you to keep bringing up what had to have been a painful (although closed) chapter in her life at this point is creepy. If you can't do that, then please, shop someplace else or stand in a different checkout line.

DEAR ABBY: When one person owes another person an apology, does it count as a legitimate apology if the word "but" is tacked on at the end? I think adding "but" takes away from the admission of fault and places the blame back on the person owed the apology. Am I right? -- WAITING FOR AN APOLOGY

DEAR WAITING: Yes, you are. When someone adds "but" at the end of an apology, he or she is trying to justify whatever the offense was. And that's not a true apology.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)