DEAR ABBY: My husband’s mother recently told him he no longer matters to her because he is an atheist. His mother is supposedly a Christian, but she rarely acts like one. It has left my husband devastated and feeling more lonely than ever.
I can’t find the right words to comfort him when he’s going through something I haven’t got a clue about. How do I empathize with him to let him know he did nothing wrong and that he never deserved to have those words thrown at him by his own mother?
It infuriates me, but I don’t think it would be right for me to step in and talk to her directly. How do you deal with a narcissist who constantly plays the victim even after all the support you’ve given to her, financially and emotionally? — SUPPORTIVE WIFE IN ALABAMA
DEAR WIFE: I’m glad you asked. Explain to your husband that by emotionally abusing him this way, his mother is attempting to control him. What she said is despicable, and if he is as emotionally dependent on her as you have described, he may need counseling to get past this. The way to deal with her emotional blackmail is to distance yourselves from her financially and emotionally, because she is manipulative and toxic.
DEAR ABBY: When I was a little girl, my mother died of breast cancer. I always suspected that I might have the gene, too. To make matters worse, my dad got skin cancer a couple of years ago, meaning my risk of getting cancer is higher because of both my parents having it.
I’m turning 18 in a couple of months, and I want to get tested to see what my risk is, but I’m terrified. I sometimes feel a stabbing pain in my chest and think I feel a lump. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it due to my stress and fear or if it’s true. I don’t want to tell my dad until after my appointment, which I plan on doing alone. What do you think I should do? Should I tell him? — AFRAID IN FLORIDA
DEAR AFRAID: Try to calm yourself. The lump you felt may not be what you fear, but a cyst. Breast cancer in teen girls is rare, but cysts are quite common. (It might also be nothing.) That said, because of your family history, you should be checked by a doctor.
I don’t believe in keeping secrets of this nature. If you would like emotional support when you get the test for the BRCA gene, your father — or a female relative — would be a logical choice to go with you. Please give it some thought.
DEAR ABBY: I have a medical alert service dog. People at the store won’t leave him alone to do his job, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be rude to these people, but my life depends on his alerting. Each time I must shop for groceries, I am very afraid. Advice? — NO PETTING IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR NO PETTING: You are a nice person. Too nice, in fact. When someone attempts to distract your service animal, TELL the person emphatically to stop immediately because he is on duty, working to ensure your safety, and being distracted could cost you your life. It is the truth.
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.
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