DEAR ABBY: After years of abuse at the hands of my mother's boyfriend, I finally sought therapy to deal with the emotional issues. I spent weeks interviewing licensed therapists and finally picked one I felt comfortable with.
After several sessions, I finally revealed the true nature of my issues. Her response? "At least you weren't raped!" I was so horrified by her reaction that I got up and walked out.
It had taken me 20 years to finally work up the courage to speak to someone about my problems. Now I feel completely defeated -- even exploited -- all over again. I know not all therapists are as inept as this woman was, but I'm really afraid of the whole process. What do you do when therapy is the one thing you need, but also the one thing you are petrified of? -- NEEDS THERAPY FOR THERAPY
DEAR NEEDS THERAPY: Because someone has a license to practice does not guarantee that the person is actually good at it. I'm sorry you learned that the hard way. But please do not let one bad experience keep you from getting the help you know you need.
When therapy is the one thing you need, but also the one thing you are most afraid of, you should do what smart people who have felt as you have done. Go anyway. This woman wasn't equipped to help you. Be glad that you realized it quickly. You did the right thing by leaving.
DEAR ABBY: I am the proud father of a wonderful 7-year-old boy, "Aiden." His mother, "Emily," and I share custody and have an amicable relationship. I also happen to be gay.
Most of our friends and family are aware of our situation and are kind to all of us. However, Emily's cousin "Lyn" has children Aiden's age who are starting to make anti-gay comments to him -- including teasing and name-calling.
I have spoken to Lyn about this in a gentle and patient manner, but she told me the comments are reflections of her religious beliefs. Have you any advice as to what I can do to stop Aiden from being subjected to this kind of behavior, short of refusing to let him visit them anymore? -- BOTHERED IN BUFFALO
DEAR BOTHERED: I don't know what religion Emily's cousin practices, but I can't think of any that encourages teasing and name-calling among children. Although Aiden is young, he is old enough to understand that some people can be hostile and intolerant of those who are different than they are. Explain that Lyn and her children are "those" kind of people, and it has nothing to do with him personally.
By the way, although you're reluctant to refuse to let your son visit that branch of the family, expose him to them as little as possible, if at all. His mother can visit Cousin Lyn when Aiden is with his daddy.
DEAR ABBY: What is the proper protocol regarding jewelry that was given by a former boyfriend? I have a few lovely items, but I no longer feel comfortable wearing them. I'm at a loss and hate to leave them sitting in my jewelry box forever. -- DE-JEWELED IN OHIO
DEAR DE-JEWELED: There is no "protocol" regarding gifts from former boyfriends. If you are uncomfortable wearing the items because they bring back sad memories, consider selling them or, if they contain valuable gems, having the stones reset. However, if you can adjust your attitude and consider them "souvenirs," then wear and enjoy them.
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