DEAR ABBY: My best friend of 20 years, "Claire," has suffered bouts of depression ever since I have known her. She recently confided to me that her brother had repeatedly sexually abused her as a child.
When she went to her mother for help, her mother told her she needed to "thank God that it was happening because it would make her a stronger person." Her mother is dead now, but her father is still alive. I am furious at him for allowing the abuse to happen under his roof.
Abby, the family acts like it never happened! Claire invites her dad to events we plan together like birthdays. How do I attend knowing what I know? I don't want to sit across a table from him.
My husband is an abuse survivor and feels even more strongly than I do. It has made get-togethers miserable for us. Should we just smile and pretend we don't know because we can't fight my best friend's fight for her? How do we get over the anger? -- CONFUSED IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR CONFUSED: Years ago, someone explained to me that depression is anger turned inward. Your friend is enduring these bouts of depression because she was never allowed to express her anger where it belonged -- at her brother and her mother. Whether the mother ever told her husband what was going on, or whether it was the continuation of a long family tradition of sexual abuse, is something we don't know. But if you haven't suggested to Claire that she could benefit from counseling, you should.
As to you and your husband participating in these family gatherings, my advice is to stop doing it. Celebrate special occasions with your friend right before or after these occasions; many people have pre- or post-birthday get-togethers, and that's what I recommend in a case like this.
DEAR ABBY: I recently became involved with a longtime female friend of mine when she was in town. I have always loved "Miranda" as a friend, but now I also feel attracted to her as a potential perfect match.
The problem is she lives far away. We keep in touch almost daily. I love that, but it makes me miss her, and I end up thinking about her all day, which doesn't help. She says she has feelings for me, too, but "the timing isn't in our favor."
What can I do to go about my day without letting thoughts of Miranda rule my brain? I am 27 and haven't felt like this about anyone before. We'll see each other in a couple of months and the time couldn't be crawling by any slower.
Abby, are long-distance relationships even worth trying? -- ANXIOUS IN COLORADO
DEAR ANXIOUS: Of course they are. As the saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Years ago, couples who were separated by distances courted via the mail. In fact, some of them wrote beautiful poetry and love letters that are classics. (Check out the letters of Victorian writers Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.) Couples separated by war before the invention of the Internet also managed to nurture relationships that led to marriage.
So consider yourself lucky that you and Miranda can be in touch every day, even though at this point it's frustrating. As to the problem of her dominating your thoughts all day, a way to deal with it is to stay busy.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.