DEAR ABBY: I need your help badly. I am 39 years old and live with my mother due to a physical disability. Mom becomes violent when she gets mad or upset. If she's having a bad day, I can expect her to be in my face (literally). She yells and screams, and if I refuse to yell back at her or try to ignore her — the only way I know how to deal with the situation — she gets even madder.
I have suggested counseling, but she insists that she is fine and that I'm the one who needs the help. What do I do? I can't keep on this way, and I am unable to go anywhere.
— CAN'T STAND THE VIOLENCE
DEAR CAN'T: Your mother is an emotional mess, but she is half-right. You DO need help. And the place you can get it is the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA). It's an organization that has been around for 20 years — and has members in all 50 states as well as Canada. Here's how to find them: Go to www.apsnetwork.org. Next, click on "Report Abuse," then click on your state.
Your mother needs help, too, and the people at Adult Protective Services can help her face that reality. Please write again and let me know how you're doing. I care.
DEAR ABBY: The day before my wedding, my fiance's aunt left me a gift. After the wedding I opened it and read the card that was enclosed. It was lingerie, which seemed like a well-intentioned gift.
The card, however, was a bit puzzling. Turns out the lingerie was her own, and slightly used. On the card she said it had been "only used a few times." It struck me as inappropriate to receive "used" (and wrong-sized) lingerie from a new aunt-in-law. However, I do believe she was well-intentioned.
Abby, her gift made me uncomfortable. Am I wrong in thinking it was inappropriate? Any thoughts on how to write a thank-you card for such a gift?
— FLUMMOXED IN THE USA
DEAR FLUMMOXED: This new relative may be a "character," or she may not have had the means to buy you a wedding gift and gave you the nicest thing she could come up with.
My advice is to be gracious. Do not tell her the lingerie is the wrong size or criticize it in any way. Simply say: "Thank you for welcoming me into the family. Your kindness and thoughtfulness are appreciated, and I look forward to getting to know you in the years to come."
DEAR ABBY: With the support of my friend "Lynn," I left "Stephanie," my wife of 17 years — after she admitted to more than two dozen affairs over the course of our marriage. I am now in a relationship with Lynn and very happy.
My problem is my kids think I left Stephanie for Lynn because that is what their mother has told them. As much as I despise what my wife has done, I would never tell them the truth. I tell them Mommy and Daddy had their "differences," but they know there is more to the story. Please advise.
— ALMOST HAPPILY EVER AFTER IN UTAH
DEAR ALMOST: Mommy and Daddy did, indeed, have their differences. And there is also more to the story. If Lynn hadn't been there supporting you, would you still be tolerating Stephanie's serial infidelity? If the answer is yes, then in a sense, you did leave Stephanie for Lynn, which may have been healthier for all concerned. But since your children already know there is more to the story, tell them you'll tell them the rest of it when they are older if they still want to know. And when they're adults, if they do, follow through.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.