Dear Abby: Last summer, after 24 years of marriage, I finally summoned the nerve to take my teenage daughter and leave my emotionally abusive husband. We are both thriving now.
I have been in therapy, lost almost 45 pounds and have rediscovered my self-confidence all over again. A friend I have known for more than 10 years has expressed interest in dating me. I like him very much, but I'm not sure if it would be appropriate to date yet. What do you think? – Tentative in Massachusetts
Dear Tentative: Tempting as this is, proceed with caution. When a person has been emotionally starved for a long time, then begins to feel attractive, accepted and validated again, the result can be euphoria -- a powerful "high." Right now you need to be rational.
What I think about your dating this man is less important than what your therapist thinks right now. Please make this question a priority during your next sessions because the insight you'll gain into yourself will help you not only in a relationship with this man – if you decide to have one – but in future ones as well.
Dear Abby: My 86-year-old dad buys all his food from the markdown "quick sale" tables, then lets it sit in the fridge for weeks or even months before he eats it. He insists the mold is penicillin and good for you. He eats moldy cheese, bread, fruit and meat I wouldn't feed to my dogs. He has a turkey in the freezer that expired in 2008, and he can't understand why I won't cook it for my pets.
Dad reads your column every day, so please give me some input. By the way, he isn't poor and can afford good, fresh food. – Perplexed Daughter in Southern California
Dear Perplexed Daughter: Your father is a product of his upbringing during the Great Depression, a time when many people were starving. The habits people form when they are young can be hard to shake.
One reason that perishable products have a "sell by" date is that the food begins to lose its nutritional value. As to your father's excuse that he's ingesting "penicillin" when he eats moldy fruits, vegetables, baked goods and dairy products – I'm sure his doctor would prefer he get it by prescription only.
Spoiled food can cause serious illness, which is why the U.S. government publishes pamphlets on the important topic of food safety. Visit www.foodsafety.gov and print out some of the "Food Safety at a Glance" charts for him. If he refuses to take your advice and mine, perhaps he'll be more receptive to what Uncle Sam has to say.
Dear Abby: My boyfriend of two years, "Jesse," has suddenly changed. He's pushing me away. We are both 17 and have a 9-month-old baby.
Jesse spent the first six months of our son's life in state custody. Since he has been back, he has been really distant. He ignores me and isn't affectionate anymore. When I get upset about it, he denies it and says I have no reason to be upset.
I'm scared our relationship isn't as strong as I thought. My son deserves a family, but it's falling apart. What should I do? – Troubled in Tennessee
Dear Troubled: You have no idea what might have happened to Jesse after he was sent away, so give him some space, but let him know that if he wants to talk about it, you are willing to listen and be supportive. Don't push and don't be clingy. You may have to be strong for all three of you. Complete your education, take parenting classes, and encourage Jesse to do it, too. Do this and your son WILL have a family, whether or not it's the one you thought you'd have with Jesse.
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.