DEAR ABBY: On June 6, 1989, your column included a test: "Are you an alcoholic?" I was only 27 at the time, and the 10 questions woke me up. I answered nine out of 10 with a yes. When I saw that three or more yes answers meant I had a problem, I took the test again. There was no way I could answer less than seven with a yes.
On June 12, 1989, I walked into DePaul Hospital for treatment. I've been sober ever since. Over the years, I've told hundreds of people about my experience and always promised myself I would write to thank you. -- KURT H.
DEAR KURT: You're welcome. There's an old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Obviously, you were receptive to the idea that you might have an alcohol problem and willing to do something about it. I applaud you for it.
For other readers who are concerned about their drinking, I'm printing another test. This one has 12 questions:
ARE YOU AN ALCOHOLIC?
(1) Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but lasted only a couple of days?
(2) Do you wish people would stop nagging you about your drinking?
(3) Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another hoping that would keep you from getting drunk?
(4) Have you had a drink in the morning during the past year?
(5) Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
(6) Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
(7) Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
(8) Do you ever try to get extra drinks at a party because you did not get enough to drink?
(9) Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want, even though you keep getting drunk?
(10) Have you missed days at work because of the drinking?
(11) Do you have blackouts?
(12) Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are either an alcoholic or on your way to becoming one. So, now what do you do?
For openers, look up Alcoholics Anonymous in the telephone directory. It's listed under "A." There are no dues, and you need not identify yourself unless you want to.
You can also write to AA, P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, for information.
If you need treatment, your physician or local mental health professionals can help you choose among available resources for expert, professional treatment.
Good luck and God bless you.
DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old. My boyfriend of three months is 32. My parents have met him and like him very much. They believe he is the right guy for me. However, when they asked me about his age, I subtracted four years and told them he was only 28. Now I am afraid the truth will come out soon.
Abby, I love my boyfriend and want to stay with him, but I don't know how to break the news to my parents. Please tell me what to say. -- CONFUSED PRINCESS IN PASADENA, CALIF.
DEAR CONFUSED: Tell your parents you need their help with a "math problem" -- and proceed from there.
DEAR ABBY: I am nearly 60 years old and have been married to "Peter" for more than 30 years. I am attractive and well-educated. I abandoned my career to raise our children, who are now grown. I also care for a young grandchild. Things have not always been great, but I figured you just work it out.
Peter recently confided to me that all his life he has secretly felt he should be a woman. He has become so troubled by this that he now sees a therapist who specializes in gender issues. He has also attended some support group meetings. I was devastated when he told me. I have also been seeing a therapist because I couldn't confide this to anyone. Peter is still looking for answers and does not know where this "feeling" will take him.
We are trying to be nice to each other, but that's about all there is left to our relationship. I have asked myself the proverbial question, "Would I be better off with or without him?" I cannot answer that. I am trying to function as normally as possible. But I feel like a zombie living from day to day, and I must decide soon how to deal with this.
Have you any ideas or information for me to consider? -- MISERABLE IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF.
DEAR MISERABLE: Your feelings are understandable. While your husband is exploring his feminine side, you have been abandoned. Until he decides where this path will lead him, your wisest course of action would be to make no hasty decision.
Continue your own counseling. Access the Internet and find a support group for women married to men who are transgendered. Visit the library. Books are available on the subject. The only thing you should NOT do is isolate yourself in the belief you are the only woman with this problem, because nothing could be further from the truth.
DEAR ABBY: Am I old-fashioned to expect a phone call in response to RSVPs on invitations I have sent? Whether it's a dinner party or backyard barbecue, I always accept or decline promptly.
In these modern times, does RSVP now mean: Call if you feel like it? Abby, would it be rude of me to call those who haven't replied and ask if they are coming? -- TIRED OF GUESSING
DEAR TIRED: It's unfortunate that today many people interpret RSVP as meaning, "Call if you're going to come," rather than its correct meaning, which is, "Please respond to this invitation with an acceptance or a refusal."
By all means call those who haven't replied to your invitation. It's the only way you will know how many guests to provide for.
DEAR ABBY: Here's another one you can add to your "You know you're getting older when ..." file:
My 79-year-old mother has lived with my husband and me for 27 years. Yesterday a copy of AARP's Modern Maturity magazine arrived. I was preparing to put it in my mother's mail slot in the kitchen when I realized -- it was addressed to ME! Bummer! -- TINA IN HARRISONBURG, VA.
DEAR TINA: Console yourself that it doesn't mean we're over the hill. We're just headed in that general direction.
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