Dear Amy:

I am a grown man, but I am challenged with how to manage my relationship with my stepmother. I don't know why the negative aspects of our history keep bothering me.

My mother died when I was 11, and my father married my stepmother. She was very hurtful to me in many ways and continually competed for my father's attention as she tried to establish a new family with her children and excluded me.

When I was 18, she kicked me out of the house. I was virtually homeless. As the years passed, we mended fences, developed a very strong relationship, and talked often. I know she cares about me.

Now I'm a 45-year-old with a very successful business. She only calls when she needs something - especially money.

Although it is not healthy, I constantly remember how poorly I was treated as a child. Our relationship is moving backward.

How should I address my feelings with her - or should I just let it go?

I have always been very candid - as you are in your columns (you should be in politics!) - but for some reason I am stuck.

Dear Mike:

What happened to you as a child is too important and unresolved to just let it go.

For me, the unanswered question here is: Where was your father while all this was going on? Shouldn't he have been your advocate?

Sometimes, the best way to repair a relationship isn't to duct tape it together but to dissect it, examine it, and then carefully stitch it back together.

Helping to heal family relationships is what good therapists do. In therapy, you'll be encouraged to talk and work this out.

Then you can let it go.