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Childhood abuse memories occupy survivor’s thoughts

DEAR ABBY: I have some bad memories connected with my mother, who was physically abusive. It wasn’t consistent, but sometimes she would lose it, and I was beaten quite badly a few times. It weighs on my mind intermittently, and I want to have a conversation with her about it. Then I remind myself that it occurred more than 40 years ago.

I’m 48 now, and she’s 74, and it would probably make her extremely upset. Because I’m an adult, shouldn’t I be able to process this on my own? I’m inclined to let it go, but it still pops up in my thoughts. Any advice? — FLASHBACKS IN THE EAST

DEAR FLASHBACKS: You are a survivor of sometimes serious physical abuse. There are no “shoulds” when survivorship is involved. If you feel the need to talk this through with your mother, then do exactly that because you are entitled. She may not want to hear what you have to say, but unless she’s on her deathbed, she should be strong enough to withstand a frank conversation. However, before you approach her, I suggest you first talk with a therapist who is licensed and experienced in counseling victims of abuse.

DEAR ABBY: I own a hair salon and love my job. I make a determined effort not to bring my problems to work, to be positive and not gossip. Unfortunately, my clients don’t always return the favor.

I understand people need a sounding board, but it’s exhausting to hear about every ache, pain and bruise as well as other negative tidbits. How do I tactfully let these people know my shoulders are only so broad, and their complaints are wearing me down? — PULLING MY HAIR OUT IN IDAHO

DEAR PULLING YOUR HAIR OUT: I urge you to resist the temptation. “Hairdresser as Confidant and Confessor” has been in existence since the cosmetology profession started. If your clients need to get something off their shoulders (besides their tresses), give them the gift of a willing ear. This is so important that in some communities hairdressers are being taught the signs of domestic abuse and where to refer the victims.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a teenager who has lived in Boston and a few other places. Now I live in Utah. My two Boston friends were just out here visiting, but they are gone now. I have “friends” here, but they bully me. They make fun of me and call me dumb, or say that I never seem to do the right thing. I have pulled back from them, and I now realize I really have no friends. What do I do? Help! — BULLIED IN UTAH

DEAR BULLIED: Friends don’t treat friends the way those individuals treated you, so be glad they are out of your life. Making friends requires putting yourself out there. Consider participating in sports or extracurricular activities, if they are offered at school or in your community. If there are youth clubs, see if any of them interest you. If your family has joined a church, inquire about youth activities you can join. If you do, I predict that in a very short time, you’ll be friendless no more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 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.