DEAR ABBY: I have an invisible injury, a traumatic brain injury that occurred when I was struck by a car when I was 10. People don’t understand my symptoms. When I stumble when I walk, people have accused me of being drunk. When I haven’t been able to answer a question right away, I’ve been called an idiot. Kids have made fun of me in front of my daughter while their parents looked on and smiled in approval. It taught my daughter to be a more understanding and compassionate person.
My injury has made it hard for me to make friends. My memory is shot. I forget names but remember faces. I have tried explaining to people what happened only to be accused of lying. It hurts. I have quit trying to make friends because it’s just easier to be on my own.
I guess I’m writing to you hoping to remind people that just because you think you know what’s going on with someone does not mean that you do. — MISUNDERSTOOD
DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: I’m printing your letter because it is an important one. Many people suffer from hidden disabilities. That you have been subjected to the kind of abuse you have received from these insensitive, rude individuals makes me wonder about the intelligence level of the people you are surrounded with.
You might feel less isolated if you affiliate with a brain injury support group. You can find one by contacting the Brain Injury Association of America. The toll-free number to call is (800) 444-6443 or visit biausa.org.
DEAR ABBY: My husband said something very derogatory to my cousin’s sister-in-law at a family party. She told my cousin right away. Instead of coming to me, my cousin went to my brothers and sisters-in-law. They confronted my husband and told him he had to tell me or they would. My husband did tell me. Of course, it is now out in the open, and the ramifications have been horrible. My husband has apologized to all parties, which is about all he can do.
The issue is, my brothers and sisters-in-law now hate him to the point that they don’t want him around their kids, whom my husband adores. I love my husband, but I love my family too. I worship my nieces and nephews.
I know if I stay and work on my marriage, my brothers and their wives won’t support my decision, which will make me unhappy. We will no longer be able to socialize with family as a couple. However, if I walk away from my husband without trying to work on my marriage, I won’t be happy either. I’m confused and trying to decide if I stay or go. Please help! — LOSING EITHER WAY IN NEW YORK
DEAR LOSING: Was what happened at the family party something that happens often? Is your husband a loose cannon, a drunk, a misogynist, a verbal abuser? Has he changed for the worse since you married him? If the answer to these questions is no, in light of the fact that he has apologized to all concerned, I don’t think you should give up on your marriage without careful consideration, possibly with input from your spiritual adviser and/or a licensed marriage and family therapist.
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.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)