Question: I myself am not an American citizen. I'm from Estonia, just married to an American. I don't have any say in who should be the president of this country. But it troubles me that my daughter will grow up in a country where the majority seems to think that character doesn't matter when it comes to their leader. I'll give my best to make sure my children won't grow up to be like Clinton.
- Marietta, Ga.
Dr. Laura: Thank you very much for your "outsider" opinion. I have felt all along that the greatest damage of this whole "affair" is on American families - the moms and dads who don't have the father of the first family as an adequate role model.
Question: I am a 25-year-old student who has been in a relationship for eight years with the same guy. I know he's had at least one affair. He didn't admit it but the other woman contacted me. He pleaded with me to forgive him and promised to be better. I don't know what to do.
- Orlando, Fla.
Dr. Laura: A little bit of pride keeps one from engaging in inappropriate activities. A little too much pride keeps one in inappropriate situations. A little bit of habit and familiarity gives one a healthy sense of comfort. A little too much habit and familiarity can keep one in an unhealthy situation of great discomfort.
The weakness that keeps folks recycling toxic situations is an unwillingness to sustain themselves through pain: pain of embarrassment (pride), pain of loneliness (discomfort), and the pain of self-inspection - all of which are temporary.
Without that willingness to tolerate the uncomfortable, all people stay in what they know to be the wrong places, with the wrong people, doing the wrong things. Tell your family and solicit their support in coping with your attempts to mature.
Question: I am a 60-year-old male who committed a despicable and never-since repeated act over 25 years ago. I confessed to my priest and believe I have God's forgiveness, but I was refused the victim's forgiveness. Since then, I have tried to live a good life, but the guilt and shame remained.
The secret was hidden until just a few years ago when it was disclosed to my spouse's family by the victim. Extortion was paid to escape criminal prosecution. Within a short time, I was divorced, and, except for the loyalty of my children, I am now a pariah among what was once my extended family. The chronic shame has led to depression and anxiety, which prescription drugs help deaden. Several psychologists have stated that I suffer from low self-esteem, and "just have to get over it." Is my punishment to be lifelong, or is it possible to start living again?
- Denver, Colo.
Dr. Laura: While I have compassion for the fact that you've been in pain over what you did at age 35, I suspect that your "victim" has likewise suffered as a consequence of your act. While confession and your effort to apologize to the victim are an important part of repentance, you clearly continue to escape justice.
You have never stopped living, however. For the 25 years since the act, you have worked, married, had children, and have enjoyed family and freedom. Had you turned yourself in to the authorities for the criminal act, you would have missed out on many of those opportunities.
Self-pity in the face of the many blessings you managed to enjoy, in spite of the earned and appropriate guilt and shame percolating under the surface, is self-serving - as was the original criminal act. Interestingly, for many perpetrators and victims, justice offers a sense of absolution and finality. While there are simply some things which cannot be repaired, your continued existence gives you the opportunity to do some things of value. You need to accept the consequences of your prior act as a kind of justice and use the rest of your life to create a balanced amount of beauty and goodness. Good luck.