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‘Other woman’ rebuilds her life

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 38-year-old woman who used to be nice. Then I had a three-year affair. Knowing I’m one of America’s bigger fools – and for such a long time – is infuriating, but I finally saw the light. The only person I think is a bigger fool than me is his wife.

Some “highlights“ of our romance: He gave me an STD during spring break, I found ”Ally’s“ phone number in his contact file and I saw a blonde in a white convertible drop him off in front of his house at 9:15 in the morning, which, according to him, ”never happened.“ My eyes don’t lie. After I was struck by a car in a crosswalk, he never once called me to see how I was. After that, his teenage son followed me around town flipping me off and shouting obscenities at me. There’s more, but I’ll spare you.

Please warn your readers to stay away from affairs. They demean you, your mate will lose trust in you, and the person you’re having the affair with – can that person ever really be trusted? Won’t he cheat on you, too? This “wonderful” man is an elementary school teacher. (Think about what he is teaching your kids, folks!)

Like I said, I used to be nice. I used to care and trust. No more! This man changed not only my entire life but also my family’s. Will I ever forgive myself?

P.S. I have spent thousands of dollars for counseling. It’s a lot of money, but I am worth it. – Finally Saw the Light

DEAR FINALLY: Love may be blind, but I'm pleased you finally saw the light. I’m also pleased that you realized you needed professional help to regain some self-esteem. Your bitterness jumps off the pages of your letter. If you work on that with your counselor, too, it will be money well spent.

DEAR ABBY: I was widowed 10 years ago after 34 years of marriage. My late husband’s sister, “Barbara,” who is also now a widow with no children or other family, considers me her sister and friend. Abby, I have never felt close to her. We are very different, and neither my husband nor I had any real contact with her other than occasional holiday gatherings.

Barbara is a domineering, self-pitying hypochondriac with no friends left she hasn’t alienated. We live fairly near each other, and I have the feeling since the loss of her husband three years ago that she’s expecting me to be her companion and caregiver going into her elder years. I’d slit my wrists first!

I married my husband “until death do us part,” not his family. I don’t want to hurt Barbara’s feelings; I just want to enjoy my own senior years. How can I gently remove myself from Barbara’s game plan? – Didn’t Sign Up for This

DEAR DIDN'T SIGN UP: “Gently” remove yourself from Barbara's game plan by being increasingly less available. She may be strong-willed and domineering, but you do not have to knuckle under to her wishes or be a dumping ground for her problems.

If she asks to get together, be busy. If she’s depressed, suggest grief counseling, which has helped so many. If she suggests you help her going into her declining years, explain that won’t be possible because you plan to travel. You do not have to be cruel or heavy-handed about standing up for yourself. Just hang on to your sense of humor and keep your distance.

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.