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1:38 PM Mon, Oct. 22nd

Dear Abby | Graduate longs to distance himself from family strife

Dear Abby: I’m an 18-year-old guy who’s having troubles regarding my family. My parents are divorced, and I moved out of my mom’s house after I graduated.

After the divorce, I flipped back and forth between living with either Mom or Dad. I moved into my mother’s after an argument with my stemom, who insists that I call her “Mother.” I don’t consider her my mother. My father is an alcoholic and was completely impaired when he married her. I’ve never forgiven him. When I visit, I can’t help but feel no longer welcome.

My mother (a hypocritical tiger mom) made my high school career so stressful it pushed me into severe depression, so I spoke to a doctor who prescribed medication for me and gave me therapist referrals. Since I moved out, I’ve never been happier.

My siblings and I have never been close, other than at times when we needed someone to talk to about our parental situation.

I have been thinking about disappearing and starting a new life on my own with no thought of my family past. I’m not sure if it’s worth fixing the mess my family has become. Advice? – Breaking Away

Dear Breaking: For your stepmother to demand that you call her “Mother” was wrong. She is not and never will be your mother. (Besides, you already have one of those.) For your mother to have pushed you to succeed academically is normal when a parent thinks her child has potential that isn’t being realized. That she was so heavy-handed that it had the opposite effect is very sad.

If you would like to move away and start a new life, no one can stop you. At 18, you are considered an adult. But I do NOT think it would be healthy for you to do it in anger and without mending fences, if that’s possible. Running away will not have the effect you’re looking for because your family will still be living in your head.

Dear Abby: Should I marry someone who doesn’t love me more than anyone in this world? – Jim in Virginia

Dear Jim: I think that depends on who else the person loves.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.