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Mom who fled family must regain confidence

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Dear Abby: I am responding to "Lost Mother in the Midwest,'' who ran away from her family and now yearns to return to the fold. She should see a counselor immediately and begin to climb out of the horrible pit she is in.

I have been there and recognize the words "unneeded, disrespectful, ignored, my fault," and "don't deserve their forgiveness."

Her self-confidence is bankrupt, and professional help can guide her through rebuilding who she is. She must learn to care for and love herself before anyone else can love her. She must learn to confront and halt abusive treatment. She deserves better. Life outside the "pit" is worth living.

I wish her the joy I now have. — Free In Gainesville, Fla.

Dear Free: I received some criticism for calling what "Lost Mother" did "irrational behavior." While I do not believe that her leaving was irrational, I do take exception to the WAY in which she did it — leaving behind her clothes, mementos, friends and even her mother for a year without a word. She could have achieved the same effect without isolating herself. Read on:

Dear Abby: If that woman had been in a work setting and her boss had talked to her in irritated tones, and her co-workers were disrespectful or ignored her altogether, she would have cause for filing harassment charges.

Were she in a school setting and the teacher always spoke to her in irritated tones, and her classmates were disrespectful or ignored her altogether, you would have advised her to take the teacher to task.

Is that behavior more acceptable in a family setting because the perpetrators are her husband and sons? Absolutely not!

It appears she was at the breaking point and escaped the only way she could. Many people have chosen suicide at that point, but she chose to run away from home. — Disappointed In Neilton, Wash.

Dear Disappointed: I did not advise her to return to an abusive situation. I told her to seek counseling to be sure she was strong enough to face what might lie ahead.

Dear Abby: Had her family been supportive and seen to it that she had been evaluated physically and mentally, maybe she would owe them an apology. But as it stands, the husband and the sons should be begging her for forgiveness.

She should not return to them until the entire family has completed therapy. Only then will they deserve HER forgiveness. — Robyn In Tacoma

Pauline Phillips and her daughter Jeanne Phillips both share the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren. © Universal Press Syndicate