Dear Abby: I am 42 years old and a divorced father of two. Earlier this year, I caused a fatal drunk driving accident. Once I came to and realized what I had done, I accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty to my crime. I have never before been in trouble with the authorities.
I believe God has forgiven me. I know my supportive family and friends have also forgiven me. But how do I forgive myself? I think about it and cry daily for my victim and that family. I pray they will find some comfort that I am behind bars.
I plan to volunteer and use my time to help others as I have done in the past, once I am free. I also plan to tell my story to as many people as will listen to help stop the senseless act of driving under the influence.
I can never, and will never, forget what I have done. But I know I must forgive myself to move forward and start helping others. Any advice or suggestions you can give would be greatly appreciated. -- UNFORGIVEN INMATE IN CALIFORNIA
Dear Unforgiven: Start a dialogue with the clergyperson of your faith who ministers to the prison population. Because re-entry into the larger community can be stressful, if substance abuse counseling is available, join a group. It might help you avoid falling back into old habits upon your release.
Dear Abby: I am the owner of an art gallery and often host shows with a reception to introduce artists. This generates interest in their artworks among patrons purchasing a piece for their home or to add to their collection. We provide hors d'oeuvres and beverages for our clients and potential clients.
Several individuals come to our receptions and heap food on their plates, often filling them a second time and sometimes a third. One woman has carried food out, saying it was for her husband who was waiting outside. (He must have been hiding, because I watched her get into her car alone and drive off.)
Abby, these people rarely even look at the art, let alone buy anything. They just eat and leave. My gallery is in a fairly small community, so I don't want to be rude, but how can I tactfully tell these people to ease on down the road? -- NOT RUNNING A SOUP KITCHEN
Dear Not: Have an employee monitor the food display, and when someone is spotted taking food outside or pigging out, have the employee quietly intervene. As for individuals who come to your gallery only to eat -- and by now you know who they are -- greet them politely and suggest quietly that because it is clear that your taste in art and theirs is not the same, it would be better if they shopped elsewhere.
P.S. And if attendance to these openings is by invitation, simply stop inviting the offenders.