DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced when I was 2 years old, and remarried soon afterward. Unfortunately, the man my mother married was an abusive alcoholic whose beatings eventually contributed to her death in 1981. My father had remained on good terms with my mother throughout the years, and he and my stepmother attended the funeral.
After the funeral service, my stepmother said to me, "I insist that you thank your stepfather for putting up with your mother all those years. You should spend the rest of the afternoon with him and his family."
Not wishing to cause a scene, I did what she ordered. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Abby, no one deserved the punishment my stepfather inflicted on my mother. My stepmother knew exactly what he had done to my mother and to me, too. How could she make such a demand?
After all these years, at 42, I am still troubled by my stepmother's demand, and the fact that I actually obeyed! What can I do to get over this? -- STILL TROUBLED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, ROCKLAND, DEL.
DEAR STILL TROUBLED: Your stepmother's comments were outrageous. She may have hated and resented your mother, and felt she had gotten what she deserved. And, like many victims of abuse, your self-esteem was so low you obeyed her without question.
Counseling can help you work through the feelings you're experiencing. Since you're still troubled, I hope you won't wait any longer.