DEAR ABBY: Until I was 13, my 8-year-old brother and I lived with our mom, but she was so mean that Dad took us to live with him and "Heather." Heather is good to us. She never yells at us or tells us we're no good. And we never have to eat cereal for dinner like we did when we were with Mom, who sometimes didn't come home for days.
One night I heard Dad tell Heather he thought Mom was on drugs and doing bad things to get money. I know she was taking a lot of pills and drinking.
It was better living with Dad, but we missed Mom, so after a couple of months, Dad let us visit Mom overnight. But Mom started two lawsuits against Dad. She wanted him to pay her child support even though we weren't living with her.
She went to court, but she lost. The judge said she must be tested for drugs and see a counselor before she could have us overnight again. Mom took the tests and got into a program, but after a couple of months she stopped doing what the judge said. She calls us sometimes but won't tell us where she lives or where she works. She blames us for not visiting her. I always cry after she calls.
I also cry because I'm afraid she'll take a drug overdose and die. I don't tell Dad and Heather anymore because I tried to talk to them and they told me Mom is sick.
I want to forget my mom, but I can't. What can I do to stop crying every night? -- SAD AND SCARED DAUGHTER IN N.Y.
DEAR SAD AND SCARED: Talk to your father and Heather again. Tell them how you're feeling. From your description of your mother, she does appear to be ill and out of touch with reality. When people have heartaches like yours, the surest way to resolve them is to share them.
You cannot "save" your mom; only she can do that. And for your own sake, you must not allow her to make you feel guilty. Sometimes when a situation is out of our control, it has to be left to a higher power. Keep busy with constructive things -- sports, extracurricular activities, volunteering your time. It will give you less time to worry. However, if crying in your pillow continues, I urge you to talk to your dad about some professional counseling for yourself.