Dear Annie: I need to talk to someone. No one knows about this — not even my husband of 19 years.
I am now 40, and when I was a young girl, I was molested for a period of time by a hired man on the farm my dad owned. He said if I ever told anyone, he would hurt me, and I believed him. I never went to my parents. I was also raped my second year in college by a fellow classmate. He was convicted, and my family knows about that, as does my husband. But for some reason, I couldn't tell anyone about the earlier molestation. I was still afraid this man was going to hurt me.
Lately, I have been having nightmares about it and don't know why. The guilt, pain and anger are eating me up inside. I don't attend church, so I cannot speak to a pastor. And I have no close friends nearby who I would feel comfortable confiding in. Besides, how do you bring up something like this?
Please help me. Should I tell my parents now? I'm afraid of saying anything to them or to my husband because it would be terribly hurtful. Why is this happening now?
— A Horrible Secret
Dear Secret: Sometimes these things surface when you are under stress, or in your case, you may have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder because you never dealt with the earlier abuse. Confiding in your husband could provide much-needed emotional support, but since this is so difficult for you, we recommend you contact RAINN (rainn.org) at 1-800-656-HOPE. Their trained counselors will help you work through this.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 30 years. We had a wonderful sex life until the past five years. Between the medication for his high blood pressure and the pain of two hernias, his interest in me has gone right out the window.
I crave some sort of affection. I tried letting him know we can have some closeness without these problems getting in the way, but he just rolls over and goes to sleep.
My husband cannot take drugs for erectile dysfunction. He also cannot take time off of work to have hernia surgery. His job might not be waiting for him when he returns. Maybe he'll do it when he retires.
I will unhappily live with my problem, but if other men see themselves in this letter, I hope they will think about their wives once in a while.
— Just Wanted To Share
Dear Share: Ask your husband if you can accompany him to his next doctor's appointment so you can discuss this and see about changes to his medication. The doctor might also give your husband suggestions for making your physical relationship closer. You also should try talking openly and lovingly with your husband, explaining that affection, even without sex, can improve your relationship and make both of you happier.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Forgotten in California," the events coordinator who collects money for cards and cakes for office birthdays, but hers is neglected.
I, for one, do not like having my birthday recognized. I am a private person and would rather not be the center of attention on my birthday. To me, it's just another day. Additionally, I do not like being hit up for money to buy other people cakes and gifts at the office. When I kindly communicate this to my co-workers, they give me a look as if I just committed a murder. I wish people would be more understanding.
— Leave Me Alone in Omaha
Dear Omaha: You are certainly not the only reader who feels this way, but unfortunately, not everyone in an office will find it friendly.
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