DEAR ABBY: I'm an only child by default. My parents have been married 30 years and had two children. When I was 9 and my sister was 6, we were in a car accident with my mother that resulted in my sister's death. Her death changed my life in ways I can never explain.
My father began abusing drugs and beating me. My mother started stealing and was always unemployed. She became severely depressed and also abused prescription drugs. I was left to raise myself, and now, as an adult, I don't want a relationship with either of them.
How can I get my mother to accept that despite her wishes, I do not want to live my life watching her waste hers? It leaves me feeling depressed, angry and hopeless. I have been diagnosed as bipolar. Almost all my life I have known only death, drugs, abuse and pain. I just want peace from these people. Please help. -- FRUSTRATED SON IN GEORGIA
DEAR FRUSTRATED SON: You have my deepest sympathy for the tragedy that destroyed your family. Had your parents received the professional help they needed at the time of the accident, much of it might have been prevented. Tell your parents that unless they seek help now for their problems, they will have lost not one, but two, children.
However, if they choose to continue as they have been -- which is likely -- then you must go on with your life. The answer to a toxic situation such as what you have experienced is to divorce yourself. Because you can't fix them, you must save yourself. You have been damaged enough.