DEAR ABBY: A year ago, I made a horrible mistake. I ran away from home. I am not a child -- I am a 40-year-old wife and mother.
I was unhappy with my husband and walked away from my life. I left everything: my kids, my clothes, and the mementos I had collected my entire life.
For a long time before that, I felt unneeded and alone. My husband talked to me mostly in irritated tones -- as if everything I said to him was stupid or worthless. My teen-aged sons were disrespectful or ignored me altogether. Their father thought it was funny and said it was my fault. So I ran.
I have had no contact with anyone for a year. Not my kids, my mother or any of my friends. I am lonely and miserable. I suffer from depression. I had a bad case of endometriosis and large fibroids. I am recovering from a full hysterectomy.
The reason I am writing is that I miss my family. I want so much to hug my sons and make sure they are all right. After what I have done, I am not sure I have that right any longer. I don't want to cause more upheaval in their lives. I love them very much, and I know what I did was wrong. I probably don't deserve their forgiveness.
Maybe I should stay out of their lives for good, but my heart aches. I am so confused and scared -- but mostly lonely. I really need your advice. -- LOST MOTHER IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR LOST: What you did was irrational, and whether it was triggered by your depression or a hormonal imbalance is anybody's guess. Before trying to contact your family, I urge you to schedule some sessions with a counselor to be sure you're strong enough to face what may lie ahead. Once you're on firmer emotional footing, the counselor -- or a clergyperson -- should mediate and facilitate the family reunion. I wish you the best of luck.