FAMILY'S ANGER OVER WOMAN'S PAST MISTAKES STILL LINGERS

Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago I was involved in an unhealthy relationship for me and my children. Despite what everyone said, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He ended up assaulting me and my kids.

For two months I struggled with depression, and I admit I wasn't the responsible parent I should have been. Child Protective Services took the children. I hold myself accountable for my actions and my failure.

My parents are angry with me because of poor choices I made in the past and treat me like the black sheep of the family. Granted, my mother, brother and I all have issues stemming from the past, but I'm tired of playing the guilt card, tired of playing the victim and tired of not having my family back me up at a time when I need their support to regain custody of my kids.

I miss my family and what good times we did have. How do I even begin to put the pieces back together on a very broken family? -- THE BLACK SHEEP

DEAR BLACK SHEEP: Fixing your broken family is something all of you must be willing to work on together, or it won't be successful. Because your mother and brother are unwilling, what you need to do is start fixing yourself.

Regaining custody will depend upon your ability to establish your independence, support your children and yourself financially, and start counseling to deal with your issues so you won't get into another destructive, abusive relationship. It will take work and time, but if you can do it -- and I think you can -- your mother and brother will respect you for it. And you will be stronger and healthier because you will no longer be so needy.


DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Gene" for three years, living together for a year and a half. We're both divorced and love each other very much.

Our biggest problem is, he doesn't keep a "normal" schedule. Gene eats at odd hours, exercises at the strangest times and will stay awake 'til the wee hours of the morning, then crash for a day or so. He seems unfazed by this wackiness. He's responsible, holds a good job and comes from a terrific family, but his habits are taking a toll on me.

There are days when I want him home for dinner, or I want to cuddle with him. I want a normal schedule. This is tricky because I have accepted his lifestyle and now the brakes have come on for me. Gene doesn't understand my sudden change of attitude, and frankly, neither do I.

Do I have only two choices -- accept him for who he is or find someone who follows a more conventional schedule? I love him so much that leaving would be very hard to do. -- WANTS A NORMAL LIFE

DEAR WANTS: It would be interesting to know what Gene does for a living. Does he work in a casino? Show business?

It's possible your change in attitude has come about because you now realize that you might be living his unconventional lifestyle for the rest of your life. Compromises you could make on a temporary basis can seem daunting when you see they'll be permanent.

If you need someone who lives his life on a normal schedule, one of you will have to make some changes. You will either have to accept this as your future or Gene will have to change his lifestyle. Because he seems to thrive on the schedule he's living on, the adjustment may be very difficult for him.


TO MY READERS: Have a happy, healthy and safe Fourth of July, everyone! -- LOVE, ABBY


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.


What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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