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Dear Abby: My emotionally abusive mother uses a minor injury as an excuse to control people

Dear Abby counsels a woman whose mother is emotionally and verbally abusive.
Dear Abby counsels a woman whose mother is emotionally and verbally abusive.

DEAR ABBY: I’m an only child (in my 30s now) who was raised by an emotionally and verbally abusive mother. When I wasn’t her whipping post, I was an emotional crutch for her and had to assume parental tasks. Since I became an adult, she has violated my boundaries repeatedly. We just don’t have a good relationship.

About 15 years ago, she injured herself at a friend’s home and didn’t seek medical care. She has used this injury as an excuse for not being able to do things over the years. I’ve wondered many times how bad it really is, or if she uses it as a reason to get others to do things for her.

Over the last six months or so, she has started doing less and less for herself. She expects my husband or me to drop everything and drive to her home to do whatever small task she has. She blames this old injury but still refuses to see a doctor for a possible better quality of life. She’s fully convinced that an old friend is using black magic to make bad things happen to her.

I don’t know what to do. I have no one to share the burden with. She berates my stepfather constantly, so his help is out of the question. Abby, I can’t even talk to my mother about the weather, so how do I talk to her about my concerns? — CORNERED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR CORNERED: While it’s suspicious that your mother has steadfastly refused to see a doctor about her life-changing injury, her reason may not be that she’s faking, but a fear of doctors.

That she insists she has been hexed by someone practicing black magic is interesting. Guilt can be a powerful emotion. After what you have written about her, I wonder what she may have done to that person that makes her think so.

You should not have to be at the beck and call of a parent who mistreated you. Start researching what senior services are available in her city and county, including transportation and visits from social workers, which might take some of the burden from your shoulders. I wish you luck.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently dined at a restaurant. Seated close to our table was a lovely couple out on a date. While scanning the menu, the man looked over at my dinner and asked me how my lamb chops were. I replied they were very good and offered to pay for the check for him and his date if they ordered the lamb chops and didn’t enjoy them.

Was that inappropriate? I did not know this couple, nor was I aware of their taste in food. Also, my wife and I finished our dinner and left the restaurant before their lamb chops arrived, so if they did not enjoy them there was no way I could, post facto, make good on my offer to pay the bill. Did I do wrong? — WONDERING IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR WONDERING: Could it have been a cocktail or the wine talking? Making an offer you were not able to follow through on was a b-a-a-a-a-d idea. Had you lingered over coffee and dessert until their food arrived, I might think otherwise. Volunteering to pay their check was above and beyond the call of duty, even if it was a nice gesture.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.