DEAR ABBY: When I was a child, my mother -- a bipolar schizophrenic -- abused me. At 12, I decided I had had enough of her mental and physical abuse. A family friend helped me to leave and be placed with my father. I am now 35 and haven't seen my mother since then.
A few years ago I wrote her a letter. In it I included pictures of my children, saying I would like her to know her grandchildren. She ripped the photos into pieces and sent them back with a note telling me to leave her alone and that I had "made my choice in life."
Last month, I received a letter from her saying she regretted destroying the pictures and would now like me to send more and she could meet us all. She also asked me for $6,000. She claims I "know" she never abused me and that she isn't mentally ill.
It has taken a long time for me to overcome the things she did to me. Even now, when I drive through the old neighborhoods where we lived -- a different one for every grade I went to school -- I break down in tears from the memories of her abuse.
Should I write my mother back or just let it go? -- ON AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER IN ILLINOIS
DEAR ON AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER: Let it go. Until your mother is well enough to admit what she did to you -- and she isn't -- do not expose your children to her. And as to the $6,000, if you can afford to spend that kind of money, spend it on therapy to overcome the sadness that still lingers from your abusive childhood. If you give it to your mother, she will only ask you for more and more.
DEAR ABBY: My wife, "Diane," and her youngest sister, "Jenny," have grown closer in recent years. Jenny and her husband have been married as long as Diane and I have. Our children are close in age, and none of us is wealthy.
We live in different states. In her attempt to stay connected to Diane, Jenny sends gifts on every conceivable occasion and non-occasion. She sends boxes of cheap items she picks up at her local dollar store -- household knickknacks, toys, kitchen gadgets, plastic trinkets and costume jewelry. It's always things we neither need nor use, and the postage probably costs more than the items in those boxes.
Abby, I don't like it. Our home is already jammed with too much stuff. I have told my wife I want her sister to stop sending all that junk. Of course, she doesn't want to hurt her sister's feelings, so she says nothing. I have threatened to tell Jenny myself, but I know that would be a mistake. I don't interact with her and her husband anyway, and we don't communicate well. What can I do? -- STUFFED WITH STUFF IN OREGON
DEAR STUFFED: You can't "do" anything because this is something your wife is going to have to deal with. Diane should tell Jenny that the two of you have reached a point in life where you are no longer able to accept things because you have nowhere to put them, and are now in the process of clearing out items you no longer use. She should tell her sister that when she wants to reach out, please do so on the Internet or pick up the phone.
However, if Sissy refuses to take the hint, you and your wife should look for someplace to donate the unwanted items. A thrift shop, church sale, women's shelter or children's hospital would be ideal -- if Diane agrees, that is.
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