DEAR ABBY: I was recently hired for a job I have wanted for years. I am a counselor for troubled teens. I love it, and I empathize with those I work with. (Ten years ago, I was a teen placed in a similar facility for some of the same reasons.)
The problem is, when I was in a dark period of my life, I was a cutter. I still have deep scars on one arm that are noticeable. How do I handle this now that I'm in the psychological field? I don't wish to go into detail about my past, as that would be poor boundaries as an employee and counselor. But it's hard to avoid with hot summer weather here and my past literally "on my sleeve."
Please help. Some actions have permanent consequences. I hope this will remind other cutters that their wounds may be something they wish they could undo once they are emotionally healed. -- NAMELESS IN AMERICA
DEAR NAMELESS: I hope your comments will remind other cutters not only that actions have consequences, but also that there are more effective solutions for emotional pain than self-injury. This is something you should discuss with your employers. My thinking is, if your clients see your scars, it may help them to talk about their own cutting, which would be therapeutic.
DEAR ABBY: I recently became a father for the third time. My children are 18, 5 and 3 weeks old. My wife, "Molly," had complications during this last pregnancy that caused her blood pressure to remain in a heightened state for the last few months of her pregnancy. She had been hoping for a little girl, but we were blessed with another boy.
I'm turning 40 and my wife is 37. I have reached a point in my life where I'm ready to be done changing diapers, but Molly wants to try again for a little girl. I have issues with my back and have a hard time getting to my 5-year-old's level now. I'm afraid if we continue having children, I'll be unable to be the involved dad I want to be.
Am I a bad husband for feeling this way? I don't want Molly to go through life regretting not having the daughter she always wanted, but there is no guarantee it will happen if we decide to try again.
I make a fair living, but with additional mouths to feed come additional financial responsibilities. I'm afraid I won't be able to provide for my growing family as I need to. Am I right in my thinking, or am I being overly cautious? -- STOPPING AT THREE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR STOPPING AT THREE: You are thinking clearly. At 37, and with her medical history, your wife would be considered "at risk" if she becomes pregnant again. While I sympathize with the fact that she yearns for a daughter, allow me to share a true story with you:
A man was in a similar situation to yours, but he had four daughters. So he and his wife decided they would try "one more time" for a son. Sure enough, his wife became pregnant. She delivered beautiful identical twin ... daughters. At that point he gave up and had a vasectomy!
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- DEAR ABBY