DEAR ABBY: I am in a county jail for parole violation. I am an addict, which is why Im in this not-so-welcoming environment. I accept full responsibility for being here because ultimately it was my actions that guaranteed my confinement in jail. I read your column every day and find hope within it.
By JEANNE PHILLIPS
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 (Im 26) tells me that would be immature.
I dont feel like I have come to terms with my fathers illness. Although I know what is eventually to come, I have yet to feel any emotion, good or bad. Im not sure if Im blocking it or if Im being the strong-willed adult I was raised to be by my father and best friend. I was never raised with the men dont 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 youre incarcerated, you feel helpless.
Not knowing whether psychological counseling is available for prisoners in your jail, or how effective it is if its offered at all, Im 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.
Empty nest fears
DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a yours, mine and ours family. Between us, my husband and I have six children. I have been Mom for his three children since the oldest was 6. Fifteen years have passed, and I raised all of them as my own. Because the stress of such a large family has taken its toll at times, I have said I couldnt wait until everyone was 18 and out of the house.
Three of the children are on their own now and three remain. The youngest is 14. I recently took my 18-year-old son to the Air Force recruiter to take his entrance test and as I watched him walk into the building, I started to cry. I realized I dont really want them to go away.
I have been a parent since I was 17, and now at 40 Im having a hard time imagining life without them. Im afraid of having only my husband to keep me occupied. There has never been a time without kids around. Im afraid itll be like starting our relationship all over again, and he may not like what he sees. How can I get past the fear of not being needed or wanted anymore? Almost Empty-Nested in Vermont
DEAR ALMOST EMPTY-NESTED: Instead of allowing fear or anxiety to drag you down, look at the bright side. Your nest will be full for four more years, and if there is something about yourself that you see that YOU dont like, there is plenty of time to do something about it.
You are more than just a mother. Because your responsibilities as a parent have lightened, use the time to broaden your horizons and develop some mutual interests with your husband that you couldnt before. Sometimes we can be our own harshest critics, so be a little kinder to yourself and consider what I have said. It is heartfelt.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Dear Abby runs Monday through Saturday.