DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother of two young children.
I decided to have gastric bypass surgery several years ago. Nine months after the procedure, I began drinking alcohol. The drinking became progressively heavier, and within a few months I was a full-blown alcoholic. It's as if I gave up binge eating for binge drinking. It took a year of struggle to stop, with the help of my friends and family, who pushed me to seek inpatient treatment.
I am now almost three months sober. But with sobriety I have lost a lot of the kindness from my support system. Despite my many apologies, some have told me of their disgust for me, and others have cut ties to me completely.
I believe their efforts to encourage me to seek help were driven by the fact I was a drunk mom. They wanted help for me so I could be a fit parent. However, now that I am in recovery, they no longer want to be a part of my life. The shame is real, and so is the loneliness.
I am now at a point where I need to ask: Am I justified to feel insulted by their lack of support and happiness for me now that I'm healthy and being the best mom I can? Or should I accept that I really messed up and be grateful I had help at all? -- SOBER BUT SAD IN IOWA
DEAR SOBER BUT SAD: It would be healthier to keep your eye on the positive and be grateful for the help you were given. It would also be healthier for you to associate with people who make you feel good about yourself, which may not be your family and current friends. In the past I have advised that sometimes it's necessary to build a support network, or "family of choice." And this is what I'm recommending you do.
DEAR ABBY: I turned 17 last month. I have a boyfriend who is 20, but my parents don't know about him yet. He wants to get an apartment and have me move in with him on my 18th birthday. However, I promised my mother and father that I would take care of them. I want him to find an apartment nearby, with the promise that I'll move in with him when I'm ready. How can I do that without disappointing him or hurting my parents' feelings? -- UNDECIDED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNDECIDED: Stop hiding this man from your parents because what you're doing is immature and dishonest. If his feelings for you are sincere, he would want to meet them, and he wouldn't ask you to do anything you weren't ready to do.
While the idea of moving in with him may seem romantic, there are more important things you need to accomplish before you do. First among them is to become self-supporting so you can live independently on your own. That way, if things don't work out with him as you would like, you won't be out on the street with nowhere to go.
Children weren't put on this Earth to spend their adult lives taking care of their parents. Unless yours are the exception, both of them should be young and vigorous enough to take care of each other.
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 $8 (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.)