DEAR ABBY: My mother was abusive. When I was 13, she thought it was "cute" to set me up on a date with a 21-year-old Marine on leave. When I was 15, she told me that if she had known she could get an abortion in the '60s, I wouldn't be here. You get the picture.
Although she had no time for me when I was growing up, after her husband died she suddenly became clingy. She'd call me at work at 8 a.m. demanding that I drive 20 miles on my lunch break to bring her a pizza. (Due to obesity and ill health, she was pretty much housebound.)
She spent the last 18 months of her life in a rest home. But her demands became worse. There were frantic phone calls at 2 a.m. to come sit with her because she was "lonely." When I'd rush over, I'd find her sleeping. She called me four or five times during the day, and even more often in the evening.
I gritted my teeth and performed like the good daughter I thought I was. It was infuriating to hear the doctors and nurses say what a loving mother she was, how proud of me she was, blah, blah ...
Her death was a relief. I still run into people who ask about her, and when I tell them she's gone, they ask how I'm holding up. How do I tell them I'm fine? I haven't grieved at all since her death a year ago, nor do I feel sad. The only thing I feel sad about is the fact that I don't feel sad! I'm not an unfeeling person. Your thoughts? -- FEELING GUILTY IN SANTA ROSA, CALIF.
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: Of course your mother's passing was a relief. How could it not be? When people ask how you're holding up, you don't have to air the dirty laundry. Tell them you are managing, and that being without your mother is an "adjustment." (It's the truth.) As to your not having cried over her demise, it may be because you know she's in a better place, and you survived in spite of her -- so stop feeling guilty.