DEAR ABBY: About 20 months ago, after I found out I was pregnant, I was abandoned by the father of my child. My mother had passed away a month before. So I was grieving, shocked to discover I was pregnant and devastated when I was left for another woman. I went through my pregnancy alone, gave birth alone and am now a single mother.
While my child and I are blessed -- I have a good job, Momma left me some money that has helped me buy a home, and my friends are supportive -- my heart is broken.
My son's father pays child support, but his priority is the woman he left us for. Everyone tells me I need to be the bigger person, accept the situation and give my son a chance to know his father. I understand all of that, but I am so angry. I feel rejected and debased. I cry all the time. I try to keep a positive face for my son, but sometimes I break down. My son's father and his lady make fun of me and flaunt how happy they are together while I am alone raising my child. The woman enjoys pointing out how hard I have it and how alone I am.
My son is my joy and I love him dearly, but why am I not allowed to be angry at his father and that woman? Why must I be the one who accepts the hurt and difficulty, while my son's father and his lady have their cake and eat it, too? I would really appreciate your thoughts. -- HURT MOMMA IN THE EAST
DEAR HURT MOMMA: While you have every right to be angry, has it occurred to you that you may not only be grieving for your mother, but possibly be suffering from postpartum depression as well? Discuss this with your doctor and ask to have your hormone levels checked. It might also benefit you to join a grief support group.
Your ex-boyfriend and his "lady" may appear to have their cake and eat it, too, but it's not true. They have each other, and both of them appear to be miserable people. For the sake of yourself and your son, please stop allowing them to make you miserable, too. You have your beautiful child, and endless possibilities lie ahead if you will open yourself to them. If necessary, find a licensed therapist to help you let go of the negative and get your priorities straight again. Once you succeed in doing this, you'll be fine.
DEAR ABBY: We used to display a wide variety of family pictures on our living room walls. Before repainting, we took them down. Because some of them include our children's former and current relationships, we can't decide which ones we can comfortably "redisplay" without offending anybody.
We have remained on good terms with former in-laws and the children from prior relationships, but the "new" and the "old" never speak of each other, much less enjoy seeing pictorial reminders hanging in our home. Some of our grandchildren are blood relatives; others are not. Our children have moved on to other relationships. This is OUR home, but we don't want to offend any of the people we welcome into it. Any advice? -- PICTURING IT IN ARIZONA
DEAR PICTURING IT: You are a sweet and sensitive person. Talk to your children. Ask how they and their children would feel if you "edit" the collection, and which ones they would prefer you retire. And be sure to offer the outtakes to them rather than toss them.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter has decided to leave her husband. They have been married for 20 years. She says she hasn't been happy for several years and that it's time to take care of herself. She won't be able to support herself and the children, but she doesn't seem able to grasp that reality. When I voice my concerns, she gets angry with me. She's determined to go forward with this separation and says her kids will be "fine." I say that's bull! She has also embraced an exercise and eating plan that seems radical to me and has a life coach who is also a psychic. I think she's having a midlife crisis.
If it weren't for what this is going to do to my grandchildren, I'd keep my mouth shut, but I'm sick with worry. Her siblings think she has lost her mind, so she has pretty much cut herself off from the family. When she became frustrated because she wasn't able to qualify for a house she wanted to rent, she lashed out at me. I'm waiting for an apology, but I'm realistic that I'll probably never get one. I feel like I'm in mourning over the loss of this child. What do I do? -- SHAKEN UP IN TEXAS
DEAR SHAKEN UP: Your daughter is an adult. By now you must have realized you can no longer control her behavior. For the sake of your own mental health, accept that she's going to make her own mistakes. Do not accept financial responsibility for your daughter. Be as supportive of your grandchildren as you can be, because at some point you may have to take them in.
As for her "psychic life coach," you should know that unlike physicians, psychologists and social workers, life coaches do not belong to any organization that requires them to adhere to ethical standards. Your daughter should be made aware that there may be some risk involved in placing her future in that person's hands.
DEAR ABBY: A dear friend and I decided to visit our old friend, "Carol," who has been in an assisted living facility for a year. Carol has some dementia, but we took her -- arm in arm -- to a pizza restaurant at our mall. After we were seated and browsing the menu, a very handsome gentleman approached our table. He said we reminded him of his mother and insisted on treating us to dinner. We thanked him, he laid down a $100 bill and disappeared. We enjoyed a great dinner and left the change ($35) for the server. We would like to thank that nice gentleman again. He made our day. -- GRATEFUL IN GEORGIA
DEAR GRATEFUL: Your letter made MY day. Occasionally, I print letters about acts of kindness, and yours definitely qualifies. You and your friend were performing a good deed by taking your friend for lunch, and it was paid forward in record time. It's nice knowing there are good people out there. Thank you for sharing.
DEAR ABBY: I recently traveled to Germany to help my 19-year-old daughter settle in for her semester of study abroad. I was in tears the entire trip home, not because I was sad to leave her, but because she kept lashing out at me for anything from using a cotton swab to following proper directions exiting the train, to asking simple -- but, in her mind, ridiculous -- questions. This is not new behavior. Her brother has also observed her overreactive behavior to minor things.
I treated her and her roommate to dinners out and stocked her apartment with groceries, in addition to making significant financial contributions toward her tuition. I'm also splitting the cost of her monthly rent with her dad.
I feel hurt, like she regards me as only an ATM. She wouldn't even let me use her European electrical adapter to charge my phone before leaving for the airport.
Should I convey how hurt I feel and, if so, what are your suggestions? I feel if I have a phone conversation, she will sigh, tell me she doesn't have time for this or accuse me of being a killjoy. If I put it in a letter, I'll feel like a coward, but it will allow me to express my feelings without interruption or protest. -- UNAPPRECIATED IN VERMONT
DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: Frankly, I'm surprised you weren't crying because you recognized your part in creating the self-entitled monster your daughter has become. You should have put a stop to it when she first started "overreacting" with rude, insensitive and ungrateful behavior.
By all means write her a letter, and when you do, tell her she behaved shamefully, it was hurtful, and that you will no longer tolerate it. Be sure she understands she will not get another penny until you receive an apology and assurances that you won't be subjected to that kind of abuse again. Continue practicing tough love until you see real changes in your daughter's attitude. It's the only kind of language she will understand.
DEAR ABBY: After 23 years together, my wife, after spending time with her grown children, brought home photos of her deceased former husband. The photos that bother me are the ones in which they are holding hands. He was the stepfather to her now-middle-aged children. They had 19 years together, and he had a daughter who became my wife's stepdaughter.
The stepdaughter posted on social media that she missed her dad. My wife expressed the same feelings and said she thinks about him, too. When my wife posted those sentiments on the internet, everyone could read it. Those pictures and feelings bother me. Am I wrong for being angry about this? -- UPSET IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR UPSET: It's time to grow up and accept that your wife was married -- I presume happily -- before her former husband's death. If you want a healthy marriage, stop competing with a dead man. For her to express solidarity with her former stepdaughter was no reflection on her love for or her marriage to you. Your feelings are not all that unusual, but you are wrong to be angry. If you need reassurance, ask your wife for it, and I'm sure she'll give it to you. Because she once loved another man doesn't mean she doesn't love you.
DEAR ABBY: I have dear friends and neighbors I really enjoy who have asked me to water their plants and feed the cat when they're away, which is not very often. I enjoy doing these things, and so I always feel awkward when they bring home gifts of jewelry or give me money. I would prefer that they let me do these things for love and friendship, but I don't know how to make them stop giving me things.
Is there something polite I can say to let them know that they should just let me be their friend? I would prefer that to feeling as though I'm being paid for my services. -- FOR LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
DEAR FOR LOVE: Has it occurred to you that your neighbors bring things back for you because they enjoy giving as much as you enjoy doing things for them? If it hasn't, please consider it.
And afterward, if you still feel that their gifts are too much of a quid pro quo, explain that you like them very much and value their friendship, and they don't need to give you anything in return for the affection you feel for them. I don't think couching the message in those terms would be rude at all.
DEAR ABBY: Why do people stay in bad marriages? It causes emotional harm to the children (if they have kids), hearing their parents argue and name-call all the time. Wouldn't it be better to separate? -- UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
DEAR UNHEALTHY: Some couples remain in bad marriages because they can't afford to live apart or fear being alone if they divorce. Others have dysfunctional love-hate relationships that, I agree, are unhealthy for everyone, including the children who grow up thinking it is normal. In my opinion, if couples can't live in peace and harmony, they should separate. However, not everyone agrees.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, to whom I've been married since July of 2016, has recently caved in to pressure from friends to participate in "swinger" behavior. He wants me to be included, but I really don't want to.
The other female has lesbian tendencies that make me uncomfortable. Her boyfriend is juggling two partners at once, alternating nights for each one. My husband has told him he can do whatever he wants in front of us, which I find awkward and embarrassing.
I don't want to be a spoilsport, but I feel he is being unfair to me. How do I put the genie back in the bottle without ruining my marriage and friendships? We've lived together since 2005, and the pressure is getting worse now that we're married. -- NOT TO SWING IN THE USA
DEAR NOT TO SWING: If your vision of marriage is a union between two people only, then the man you married is not someone with whom you should spend a lifetime. Do not allow yourself to be coerced into anything you are not comfortable with, and that includes threesomes. Much as you might wish it, you are not going to change your husband, which is why it may be time for you to revisit this subject with him and the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist.
DEAR ABBY: I dated a longtime friend, "Austin," for about four months. He had a history of drug use, but had been sober for about four years before he stopped attending meetings.
I have two children from my previous marriage. He knew when we started dating that if he relapsed, the relationship was over. He did, so I ended it then and there. Austin begged me for a second chance and for my help.
I have known his family for as long as I've known him, which is 20 years. He swore up and down to me that he wouldn't relapse again, but he did and died from an overdose. Austin's family blames me for his death because I didn't answer his calls or messages. How can I explain to them there was nothing I could do? -- FAULT ISN'T MINE
DEAR FAULT: You were under no ethical or moral obligation to answer Austin's texts or messages after his relapses. Save yourself the frustration of trying to point out the truth to his family. Austin's relatives are in pain right now, and in denial as well. They are blaming you rather than their son because the truth -- that Austin was responsible for his own actions and his own death -- may be too hard for them to face.
DEAR ABBY: My 18-year-old granddaughter ran away twice last year. She's now living with her boyfriend and refuses to have any contact with her dad. I know my son is very strict, and I'm pretty sure she could just no longer live by his rules. Her mom passed away eight months ago, and my son is all she has besides her sister.
She opened a Facebook page. I was able to write to her a couple of times and she responded. She isn't answering my messages now. I suspect her boyfriend is controlling and is preventing her from contacting her family. I'm also afraid she may be involved with drugs now. She and the boyfriend were recently arrested for shoplifting, and this just isn't typical of my granddaughter.
I have trouble sleeping at night worrying about her. I know she's an adult, but I don't want her to give up on her family who loves her. Do you have any suggestions? Should I go to the house and try and see her, or must we just sit back and wait for her to grow up? Any advice will be appreciated. -- WORRIED NANA
DEAR WORRIED NANA: Do not just sit back. By all means, visit your granddaughter! She needs to know you love her and will be supportive if things don't work out with her boyfriend.
Because she's 18 and now considered an adult, you can't force her to reunite with her father, whose heavy-handed parenting may or may not be the reason she left home. But you can, however, point out that if she needs something, there are better ways to go about acquiring it than shoplifting. You should also encourage her to find a job. If she does, it will increase her independence, not only from her father, but also her boyfriend, if it becomes necessary.
DEAR ABBY: I was recently diagnosed with a stage four cancer. My surgeon has offered me an opportunity to be part of a clinical trial, which my family is aware of. They do not, however, know the details of how far the cancer has spread.
The prognosis for patients in this trial is about two more years. My wife thinks I should share this information with my extended family and friends immediately (although there are few signs that I'm ill). I prefer to remain silent until the disease catches up with me and my time gets closer. Your advice or reader response would be greatly appreciated regarding this very emotional decision. -- KEEPING IT TO MYSELF
DEAR KEEPING IT TO YOURSELF: I'm sorry about your diagnosis. I'm sure when your letter is published there will be a tsunami of reactions -- both pro and con -- from readers.
Of course your wishes should be respected, but since you asked, I am inclined to agree with your wife. Your illness affects not only you but also the rest of your family and friends. If you reveal your prognosis now, it will give the people who love you an opportunity to step up to the plate and offer emotional support, not only to you, but also to her and your family.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069