DEAR ABBY: After reading some of your columns concerning abusive, controlling relationships, I realize that I am in one, but not in the way you assume. I am the abuser.
My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half. Most of the time it's great -- we have similar interests, and we're both not afraid to speak our minds, which makes our playful debates fun. Our downfall, which has caused two breakups, is my temper.
I have an explosive, flash temper. When he does something I dislike, such as hang out with a female friend, stay out late drinking, talk about things I find annoying or insensitive, I go on a rampage. I say heartless things, threaten to leave him and do everything in my power to make him feel guilty.
As soon as I get a few minutes to gather my thoughts and cool down, I realize how out of control I have become, and I profusely attempt to apologize and make up for it. But the damage is already done. I have concluded that I am a major part of the problem, and I am desperately trying to change my ways: I think before I speak, assess before I assume, and try to ask polite questions rather than blindly accuse.
I love him, I truly do. Recently he has told me he wants to help me work on my temper and emotional issues in the hope of strengthening our relationship and becoming more serious. But is staying with him really the right thing to do if I only seem to cause him so much grief? -- SORRY IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR SORRY: Recognizing that you have a problem was an important first step. Staying with your boyfriend is the right thing to do IF you are willing to get professional help so you can understand why you lose your temper, and gain the tools to control it.
Regardless of whether this relationship leads to marriage, it is crucial that you learn to control your behavior because, if you have children in the future, the inability to do so could be devastating to them. You can't unring the bell.
DEAR ABBY: I want to ask my parents -- my mom, dad, stepmom and stepdad -- if they have planned for their deaths. I know this may seem weird, but after my grandfather died, all of them kept saying how relieved they were that he was able to make all of his own arrangements.
I know funerals are expensive, and since I am an only child and have so many parents, this worries me. How can I bring this up? Can you help? -- LOOKING AHEAD
DEAR LOOKING AHEAD: A way to raise the subject would be to refer to your grandfather's death and the comments your parents made afterward. Then ask what arrangements they have made regarding advance directives for health care, funerals, cremation, etc.
It's always wise to plan ahead and put one's wishes in writing, and if you are an adult, you should also do this. If you have already put your wishes in writing, you could start the conversation by informing them -- and then ask what their plans are.
DEAR READERS: Along with the millions of Americans who are observing this Memorial Day, I would like to add my prayer of thanks to those men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to our country. May they rest in peace.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)