DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Wants Out in Westminster, Calif." She's the nurse with three children whose husband is self-centered and verbally abusive toward her and their children, and she is afraid that a messy divorce will scar her kids emotionally.
Abby, I, too, came from a house in which there was constant verbal abuse. Although my father physically abused my mother, his verbal abuse toward all of us did the most damage. I grew up in constant fear that I would be insulted, degraded or embarrassed. The unspoken family rule was: Don't get Dad mad -- which was virtually impossible because what would upset him changed on a daily basis.
Mom believed that a bad father was better than no father. She was wrong. I longed to be part of a "normal" loving family, and vividly remember fantasizing about what life would be like without Dad.
I grew up not trusting or liking myself, nor did I trust anyone else because those who were supposed to care for and love me let me down.
It took much time and effort in the Adult Children of Alcoholics 12-step recovery group for me to feel whole again. Abby, that program was a miracle for me.
My advice to "Wants Out" is to get out now! You are letting your children down by not providing them with a nurturing, peaceful happy home. By not leaving, you may be causing more emotional harm than you know. -- HAPPY NOW IN TAMPA, FLA.
DEAR HAPPY NOW: Excellent advice. This support group deserves high praise. If you don't find it in the Yellow Pages, write to: Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, P.O. Box 3216, Torrance, Calif. 90510. Please enclose a business-size, stamped, self-addressed envelope.