DEAR ABBY: I am a 53-year-old woman who is a sexual abuse survivor. This has consumed every aspect of my life. It started when I was around 2, I believe, and was a daily occurrence until I was 14. My abuser was my paternal grandfather, now deceased.
I've sought counseling and therapy groups -- whatever I could -- over the years, to no avail. I just can't shake it. I have dealt with flashbacks, nightmares, failed marriages, etc. I just want to be and feel normal, and I don't know how.
Am I searching for something that does not exist? I don't know if you can help me, but please, if you have any advice at all, I would be beyond grateful. -- LOST IN THE SOUTH
DEAR LOST: My heart goes out to you. You have experienced an atrocity. The groups you have been attending may not have been the right ones for you. One-on-one sessions with a licensed mental health professional, someone who specializes in working with victims of sexual abuse and/or PTSD, might be more appropriate.
A good place to start finding the help you're looking for would be the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). It's the nation's largest anti-sexual violence network. You can find it online at rainn.org or by calling 800-656-4673. I wish you healing and success. Please let me hear from you again and tell me how you are doing.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 29-year-old woman living on my own an hour away from my family. My parents were bitterly divorced 10 years ago, and a year ago I lost my father to cancer. At the time, my mother voiced her disapproval of my going to be with him on his deathbed. The day he passed, she told me not to be too sad because "he was thinking about suicide anyway." I have so much anger toward her for these and other things her emotional immaturity has led her to do or say.
On the one-year anniversary of Daddy's death, she tried to pick a fight with me for "obviously not wanting to talk" to her. It prompted me to do exactly that, and I calmly discontinued speaking with her.
The past two weeks without my mother's voice in my life have been the longest stretch of peace and confidence I have experienced in a long time, but her birthday is coming up, and I worry that I am being a bad daughter by continuing not to talk to her. What's more important -- healing the breach, or my own mental health? -- CONFLICTED DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: For both your sakes, do both if you can manage it. Try this: Explain to your mother the reason for your sudden silence. Set some firm boundaries. If she cooperates, you will still be able to have a relationship with her. If she doesn't, at least you will know you tried.
DEAR ABBY: I have asked my husband to please not spit in the kitchen sink or to floss his teeth at the kitchen table. He responds by getting mad and huffing off like I am being a nag. Am I in the wrong? Does he have the right to gross me out this way? -- DISGUSTED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR DISGUSTED: Considerate spouses refrain from doing things they know will annoy their partner. I'm sure if your gem of a husband told you not to do something that bothers him, you would respect his wishes. Well, it's supposed to work both ways.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)