DEAR ABBY: I grew up invisible in a household with three siblings, one of whom got by far the most attention. To this day, my older brother’s picture is displayed in our parents’ family room – only his.

Two of my siblings were manic-depressive. There was never much calm, but that was no one’s fault. My biggest complaint is that Dad ran out on us, taking work in another town. Although he had the option to stay, he left Mom and me to cope with the remaining brother who suffered from that horrible disease. It was hell.

I am still angry at my father, even though he is old and frail and doesn’t have much time left. My wife says I need to sit down with him, explain why I am angry, clear the air, and also ask him to hang pictures of all of his children. I say, some wounds are better left scabbed, if not healed. I feel that the absence of photographs speaks of an attitude that cannot be changed. What do you think? – FORGOTTEN SON, BOZEMAN, MT.

DEAR FORGOTTEN SON: I think I agree with your wife. Although you may not be able to change your father’s attitude (or priorities), it might be beneficial for you to give him a chance to explain why he left – one adult to another. And as to why only one sibling’s picture is displayed, it could have less to do with the amount of affection as much as the level of preoccupation. Please talk to your father before it’s too late. It could lighten your load.

DEAR ABBY: I come from a family where there was alcohol abuse on the part of both of my parents. No one in the family is an admitted alcoholic, but sometimes the problem can be quite obvious.

When I drink to excess, I have trouble controlling my emotions. Whatever I’m feeling becomes amplified, so I am quick to be very jubilant, sad or even angry. This lack of control has caused me a lot of trouble – especially with my current girlfriend. She says she can’t handle when I drink because I always become verbally abusive to her.

Abby, how can I tell if I am an alcoholic? I don’t have trouble controlling the amount or frequency of when I drink, but I do get “mood swings” when I’m intoxicated. Is that a classic sign? – WORRIED IN WORCESTER

DEAR WORRIED: Alcoholism can run in families, and because both of your parents have problems with alcohol, you could be at greater risk than the average person.

Among the questions you must ask yourself are: Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year? Has your drinking caused a problem with your relationships? Do you have blackouts (can’t remember what happened when you were drunk)? Have you ever embarrassed yourself or someone else when drinking?

According to your letter, the answer to all of these questions is yes. This indicates that although you may not be an alcoholic, you could be in danger of BECOMING one.

Please consider contacting Alcoholics Anonymous. The organization is listed in your phone directory. The folks there will provide you with literature and information about alcoholism, and invite you to visit one of their many support groups. Please take them up on it. It could be the learning experience you need to head off a serious problem before it happens. Good luck!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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