DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Shaking in Harrisburg, Pa." hit close to home. She said her son was being married in a few weeks, and was insisting that she dance with her abusive former husband at the wedding.
My daughter married a year ago, and she was kind enough to realize that asking me to dance with my ex at her wedding was like asking me to dance with the devil himself. She told me she would never put me through it, knowing how hard the divorce was on me.
Abby, I, too, am engaged to a wonderful man now. I never thought life could be so beautiful. At the wedding reception, I stood looking at the man who had hurt me so deeply and took a real hard look at him. I asked myself why I was still so fearful of him even though I had put my life back together. I realized at that moment that I really wouldn't completely put my life back together unless I faced my fear of him.
My children were stunned when I walked over and asked him to dance. I held my head up and looked him straight in the face. He couldn't even look me in the eye. It wasn't long before I realized the man was nothing more than a "weasel," and I actually began to smile. By the time the dance was over, I realized I could put the past behind me. All my fears were gone.
Weeks later, my daughter asked me why I had danced with her father when she knew it was the last thing on earth I wanted to do. I told her the truth -- that I hadn't done it for HER. I did it for ME. She knows the past is finally behind me, and she is proud of me.
Please tell "Shaking" that she needs to face her past fears to really get on with her life and be happy. -- IN CONTROL AT LAST IN MINNESOTA
DEAR IN CONTROL: I applaud you for conquering your fears and going on with your life. However, unless someone is ready to do that, I would never push her. You are not the only reader who identified with "Shaking in Harrisburg" and wanted to offer encouragement. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I danced with my ex-husband at my son's wedding this summer. I can understand why "Shaking" is unhappy, but she might want to give this some consideration:
I view my ex as an emotionally handicapped person and more like a nonfavorite cousin. Because we have children, I feel we will always be "related." I no longer focus on the difficulty of our divorce eight years ago. If her ex still has her shaking, then she's letting him live rent-free in her head. Surely he's not worth it. She should focus on him instead as the man she loved when her son was conceived and born (if that was the case) and how wonderful it was that they produced something so good.
Our 26-year-old daughter was surprised we danced so well together. I reminded her that there were many things we did well together, which is why we married in the first place -- even if it didn't last. -- WISER NOW
DEAR WISER NOW: I congratulate you for your tact, and for handling the situation with humor as well as grace. You're fast on your feet in more ways than one.