DEAR ABBY: I have dysfunctional parents. For the sake of my sanity, I made the decision to remove them from my life. They have retaliated by spreading lies to immediate and extended family.
I was supposed to get an apartment with my father to help him now that he is aging. However, he became violent and threatened to kill me. I moved away and am physically safe now. My problem is, I'm now completely alone and a pariah on both sides of my family.
These lodgings are temporary. I'm afraid they will fall through once family finds out where I am and poisons this very distant relative against me. How am I supposed to survive this? I have a job, but big deal if I have nothing to live for and no purpose. -- ANONYMOUS ESCAPEE
DEAR ESCAPEE: Your chances of having a more permanent roof over your head will be better if you tell this relative everything you have told me before someone else gets to him or her. Your father appears to have serious mental problems you are not equipped to deal with, which may become apparent in the near future when he acts out against someone else. You made the right choice. Your family members may be angry because they are now the ones who have to take care of him, which is why they have started the smear campaign.
People survive situations like yours by performing their jobs well enough to excel and making new friends along the way. It's called "creating a family of choice." Most of the individuals who do it thrive because the relationships are healthy ones. You have much to live for and many happy times ahead, so please remember that and concentrate on a future filled with possibilities. If you do, it is what you will achieve.