DEAR ABBY: My 18-year-old daughter recently left to go across the country to college. Aside from the usual pangs of separation, I am overwhelmed with guilt at mistakes I made in raising her. It has struck me very hard that I can't "make it up to her" now.
Overall, I was a good mom. She was well taken care of physically and given many opportunities. But many times the emotional turmoil in my own life caused me to put her second, and she was hurt and angry. I was made painfully aware of just how bad it seemed to her when I found notes to herself she left in a dresser when she left for school. It breaks my heart to know she was so hurt by my actions.
I'm distraught and have trouble moving beyond this burden of guilt. I have considered suicide because of the hopelessness (you can't change the past), but I realize that would only cause more pain. What can I do? -- FEELING GUILTY, PORTLAND, ORE.
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: There are several things you can do. The first is to realize you are not powerless. Although there is nothing you can do about the past, there is a great deal you can do about the future.
Pick up the telephone and tell your doctor exactly how you are feeling. With medical help and counseling, you can quickly move beyond the feelings of hopelessness and pain.
Then, write or call your daughter and tell her that you found the notes she wrote -- and how sorry you are that you hurt her. Keep in mind that it is possible she has moved beyond the pain she felt when she wrote them. After all, she left them behind; she did not take them with her.
The most effective way to move beyond our mistakes -- and heaven knows we all make them -- is to apologize for any pain we might have caused and to resolve to do better in the future, and then act upon it. Dwelling on past mistakes achieves nothing. And suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I don't recommend it.