DEAR ABBY: I am in a county jail for parole violation. I am an addict, which is why I'm in this not-so-welcoming environment. I accept full responsibility for being here because ultimately it was my actions that guaranteed me confinement in jail. I read your column every day and find hope within it.
I have been struck with some not-so-good news while here. On a recent visit with my parents I learned my mother, who suffers from a variety of health problems, can no longer work. My father, who must work to cover the cost of her medical care, has been diagnosed with liver cancer.
This is very difficult for me. My father is my absolute best friend. I have to be strong for my mother. I want to scream and cry and sometimes lash out, but my inner adult (I'm 26) tells me that would be immature.
I don't feel like I have come to terms with my father's illness. Although I know what is eventually to come, I have yet to feel any emotion, good or bad. I'm not sure if I'm blocking it or if I'm being the strong-willed adult I was raised to be by my father and best friend. I was never raised with the "men don't cry" or "be strong for your mother" concept. Am I repressing my emotions? And if so, is there anything I can do to start dealing with this? -- JUST ANOTHER INMATE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR JUST: All people do not react to bad news in the same way -- crying, screaming or lashing out. Some go numb for a period of time, until they are ready to process their emotions. Part of your problem may be that because you're incarcerated, you feel helpless.
Not knowing whether psychological counseling is available for prisoners in your jail -- or how effective it is if it's offered at all -- I'm recommending you discuss this with a chaplain. It would be a safe way to air some of the emotions you are struggling with. You have my sympathy.