DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Carmen" for a few years, but in the last year she has started becoming violent when we are having an argument. I think this is domestic abuse, but she claims it isn't because I'm a man.
I'm not someone who can take abuse without repercussions. I'm like a mirror. If someone brings violence into my life, I reflect it back on them. So far, I have restrained my instincts -- but eventually I know Carmen will cross the line and I'm going to snap. I have the potential to hurt her badly.
I have tried everything to make Carmen understand how I feel, but she continues to insist it doesn't matter because I'm so much bigger and stronger than she is. When she hits me, it doesn't hurt physically, but the anger I feel is indescribable. I'm at the end of my rope and considering breaking up with her before I hurt her.
I don't want to end the relationship, but I think it's the only way to make her see things from my perspective. Or should I call the cops the next time she hits me? -- BRUISED AND ABUSED BOYFRIEND
DEAR BRUISED AND ABUSED: You may not want to, but it's time to end the relationship before something happens you both regret. Your relationship with Carmen isn't a healthy one. You will land in jail if you respond the way it appears she wants you to.
Please think ahead -- if Carmen resorts to violence when she becomes upset with you, then she very likely will with any children you would have together. She may think her abusive behavior is normal because this was the environment in which she was raised. But we both know it's not -- it's a huge red flag. Run!
DEAR ABBY: I have been a holistic health-care and healing practitioner for 10 years. I love my work and being in a helping profession. I'm the one who is always there for everyone who needs help. A good portion of my work is as a counselor, teacher and shoulder to cry on.
My problem? I'm lonely. I have multiple health issues and struggle with money. I need someone to talk with about me and how I'm feeling. Whenever I find a counselor, member of the clergy, teacher, etc., I end up being the counselor, teacher, listener, whatever.
Living in a small town, it's almost impossible to find anyone who doesn't know me or my family. I went to a minister and ended up taking him to an AA meeting. I went to a counselor at a nearby university; she began asking me for advice about her health. I'm hesitant to try to find someone online.
I'm not looking for a lover or an "adventure" -- just someone to talk with. My batteries are constantly being drained and opportunities to recharge are few and far between. I'm not asking for much, just someone to be there for me the way I am for many others.
I tried talking with my wife about this, but she's so emotionally insecure that even thinking I want someone else to talk with upsets her. Please help me. -- LONELY IN A CROWD
DEAR LONELY: It's not uncommon for therapists to suffer the kind of burnout you have described. They often deal with it by trading services with another therapist because talking about feelings -- as you well know -- can often relieve them. What you should do is contact the association of holistic and/or integrative medical professionals in your state and inquire about this kind of opportunity for you.
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- DEAR ABBY