DEAR ABBY: I am helplessly in love with a man who treats me like dirt. I'll call him "Brad." We have been together for eight years.
During that time, he has told me he was married (he has been divorced for the past five years), and lied about having cancer. Everything that comes out of his mouth is pretty much a lie.
Last year, Brad and I had a baby girl. He wanted no part of having a baby and avoided me during the entire pregnancy. To top it off, when I was in my ninth month, I found out he was seeing someone else. He swears nothing happened. He says he just needed someone to talk to.
For the baby's sake, I placed her for adoption, and she is with a good family. Now that the baby is gone, Brad has come around acting sweet and caring. Yet he still excludes me from family functions and cares more about his ex-wife's feelings than mine.
Am I sick in the head to be in love with Brad? How do I stop loving him and find a normal relationship? -- HELPLESSLY IN LOVE
DEAR HELPLESS: Are you sick in the head? If galloping masochism is a classifiable illness, the answer is yes. Somehow you have confused pain and anxiety with love. How do you stop loving him and find a normal relationship? A psychotherapist can help you understand why you have tolerated the abuse, and help you rebuild your self-esteem and learn to form healthy relationships. Your physician can refer you.
Fill your time with worthwhile activities to distract you from loneliness while you're getting your head straight. One rewarding activity is to volunteer your spare time to a worthy cause -- working with animals, the elderly or a charity of your choice. It's also a way to meet constructive people.