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Annie’s mailbox: Abused son needs help to heal

Bonding with his brother should take back seat for now

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Dear Annie: I have never seen you address adult children abandoning their parents.

Our son, "Jay," with no warning, confronted my husband and me about resentments that had been building for years. We had simply attributed his sudden remoteness to the fact that he worked six days a week and lived several hundred miles away. We were blown away by his comments. What's worse is that after we talked, he came back a month later and confided that the real source of his complaints was that his older brother had abused him in childhood.

This was the most devastating news anyone could hear. I have literally lost weight over it. The fact that his older brother is a cancer survivor did nothing to mitigate Jay's resentment. Jay refuses to talk to his brother or respond to our many attempts to contact him. He even ignored his own grandmother's funeral last summer.

What really galls me is that we are the kind of family that often spoke of love and sincerity. We settled disputes fairly. The kids had a wonderful upbringing. I cannot fathom how Jay's counselor could recommend that he throw this firebomb and then drive away. How on earth can a counselor advise a client to follow a path that will surely split a family? How can we mend our broken hearts and bond the two brothers again? — Lost and Bereaved in Connecticut

Dear Lost and Bereaved: We know this is difficult, but we'd worry less about bonding the two brothers and more about Jay's healing. He was abused. He needs his brother to make amends for doing it and his parents for not protecting him, whether or not you were consciously aware of the abuse. No reconciliation can take place until those things happen. If Jay won't allow contact, you should seek family counseling and find out what steps will help you achieve some measure of peace.

Dear Annie: I have a problem with my sister, "Jo." She wants to date my ex-boyfriend, "Roger," whom I dated 15 years ago. I'm not comfortable with this and told her so. Roger was more than a boyfriend. We were an item for five years. I ended the relationship because I caught him cheating on me (more than once). But I still have a soft spot in my heart for him and always will.

I've been married for 12 years. Jo says I am being ridiculous and need to get over it. Who is wrong? I think it is pretty disrespectful and gross. Should I let her date him, or should I set my foot down? — Sally

Dear Sally: There's no foot to put down. It's Jo's decision whether or not to date Roger, not yours, although she should understand that such a choice may estrange her from you and we don't recommend it. However, we do agree with Jo that it's time you got over it. A happily married woman should not be carrying a torch for a guy she broke up with 15 years ago.

Dear Annie: My mom is 83 and in a long-term care residence. She recently said to me, "I cannot believe no one else takes the time to call or visit me. It would be so wonderful to have visitors to break up the monotony of being in this place."

Just because someone is in a care facility doesn't mean they have stopped living. Where are the brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors? My mother always helped others over the years. Where are those people now? Perhaps if we get in the habit of visiting those less fortunate, when it is our turn, others will visit us, too. — A Sad Daughter

Dear Daughter: Most people have no idea how much a short visit or call can mean to someone in a care facility. Please, readers, pick up the phone or drop by and interrupt the monotony. You won't regret it.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Please Don't Ruin My Vacation Again," who always gets sick on airplanes. Since I started doing two things, I have avoided colds and other bugs on flights. Here are my suggestions:

1. Bring a bottle of saline solution and spray your nasal passages several times during the flight.

2. Use a battery-operated personal air purifier that hangs around your neck. I found mine through a travel catalogue, but I've seen them online. They are fairly expensive (over $100), but I think well worth it.

Hope this helps. — Traveling Healthy

Dear Healthy: Several readers recommended surgical masks, which are much cheaper, but for those who think the air purifier is worth it, thanks for the information.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.