DEAR ABBY: A number of years ago, it came out that my brother-in-law had raped and molested his two daughters and two granddaughters. It tore our family apart.
Although my sister said she intended to divorce him, she never did. She also didn't report it -- so he was never convicted of the crime -- but we all, including my sister, knew it was true. Since then, my sister has disowned her daughters, my mother and me. She still interacts with her son and his family.
I know I shouldn't miss my sister, but I do. I know my mom misses her, too. Abby, how can we get past this? Our family was always close, and now this. The grief is killing me. -- ANGUISHED IN ARKANSAS
DEAR ANGUISHED: It seems there was a conspiracy of silence in the family. Your sister dealt with her husband's crime by choosing to ignore that he is a sexual predator. That your sister has blamed his victims is beyond the pale. Your nieces and grand-nieces should talk with a licensed mental health professional about this, and so should you and your mother. If you're lucky, the person may be able to offer a group discount.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I are in our 50s. We have lived together for two years. He's retired. I work full time.
We have a woman friend (married with kids) he sees almost daily during the summer at the swimming pool. Every day he says to her, "What time will you be here? I'll be here around 10. See ya then." She brings him food occasionally while they're there. (He hasn't told me, but I know she has.)
Sometimes he can be in a foul mood, and all he wants is to go to the pool to relax. When we go, his eyes search for her and if/when he sees her, they light up and he gets a big smile on his face. When I pointed it out to him, he gave me the silent treatment for a couple of hours. Then he accused me of being jealous.
We are in a committed relationship, but I find this threatening. Was I wrong to say what I did? -- GEORGIA GIRL
DEAR GEORGIA GIRL: No, but after he accused you of being jealous, what you should have told him was he was right, and that you wish his eyes would light up that way when he sees you. It appears your guy has developed a crush. If you handle it with humor, it will pass. However, if you don't, you will continue to make him feel defensive -- which is counterproductive -- so use a light touch.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a first-time writer to your column. I'm mentally disabled, have MD (muscular dystrophy) and am diabetic. I take a lot of medication. When people ask me why I don't work or "Where do you work?" what should I say? When I say I don't work and that I'm disabled, they look at me funny and don't believe it. My disabilities aren't visible. -- WENDY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR WENDY: You are not obligated to disclose your medical history to people you know casually. (If they knew you well, they wouldn't be asking those questions.) All you need to say is, "You know, that's personal. If you'll forgive me for not answering your question, I'll forgive you for asking." Then change the subject.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)