Annie's Mailbox for Feb. 3, 2011: Feeling guilty about restraining order threat

Dear Annie: I am a 30-something woman and was in a relationship with another woman for two years. "Angie" was physically, emotionally and mentally abusive toward me.

She decided many times to break off our relationship, but would then realize she missed me. She would e-mail, text, call, send letters, etc., until I gave in and we would date again. Then the abuse would start back up, and she would leave me again so I would be "safe." This off-and-on-again business took almost as big a toll on my self-esteem and self-worth as the physical abuse.

We currently have not spoken in four months, but in the past three days, Angie has twice managed to be where I am. When I see her in unplanned ways like this, I have anxiety attacks. She knows it upsets me because she apologizes, even though she obviously is making it a point to be in my presence.

I talked to my lawyer, and he is going to send her a threatening letter saying to refrain from all contact or a restraining order will be filed. Annie, I know this is the right thing to do, but since I made the decision, I feel guilty. I don't want to hurt Angie. She has feelings the same as anyone else. We had some good times, and she is someone I once loved deeply.

I know I need to protect myself and my sanity, and yes, I am getting into counseling again. But I also feel sadness over losing the relationship. How can I stop feeling guilty for hurting her?

— Confused

Dear Confused: Many abuse victims feel responsible for both the happiness of the abuser and the success of the relationship, and when you take the necessary steps to extricate yourself, guilt is a common consequence. By deliberately putting herself in your path, Angie is attempting to manipulate those feelings and possibly win you back. We are glad you are getting back into counseling. It will help you realize that Angie's feelings are no longer your concern.

Dear Annie: My cousin and my best friend got into a major screaming match that almost came to blows. My cousin thinks "Josie" got her fired. I do not believe this is true. In addition, they both think the other one hates them.

I know my cousin is jealous of the time I spend with Josie, and vice versa. Also, they both have fairly strong personalities and are highly opinionated. The problem is, we are all booked to go on a two-week vacation together next summer, part of it on a cruise ship.

I'm trying to stay out of the middle. It is their fight, after all, and getting too involved will only make things worse. But I don't want my only vacation to be full of stress and misery. How do I handle this?

— Torn in Two

Dear Torn: Summer is several months away, and the two of them might reconcile. They don't want their vacation ruined, either. It also might be worth losing a deposit to cancel or reschedule your reservation. If no one can get out of the trip, however, please take some consolation in knowing that vacations, including cruises, offer a lot of space to avoid people who drive you batty.

Dear Annie: As someone involved with the American Cancer Society and the Relay For Life, it breaks my heart to know people are not considered "survivors" because they didn't receive radiation or chemo. Getting the cancer out of your body makes you a survivor no matter what.

My mother recently had a procedure where a mole and some extra skin were taken from her stomach because of melanoma. All those who have beaten cancer, in whatever form, are survivors in my eyes. Stand proudly. There are those of us who cheer for you.

— Survivor Supporter

Dear Survivor: Thank you for your words of encouragement. We know they are deeply appreciated.

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