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Girl Talk: Deadbeat Daddy

Q. My fiancé walked out on me and our 1-month-old. How can I cope with everything?

A. You can't "cope with everything" alone. You need to draw in your safety net of friends and family (or cast it out if you haven't been in touch). Asking for help  -- whether from relatives, neighbors, or coworkers -- will lighten your load, allowing you to be better able to handle it all, from making dinner to making sense of what happened.

If your pride stops you from reaching out to friends, try strangers. I'm not being flippant. There are many support groups designed for single moms. These include parentswithoutpartners.org, singleparentusa.com and singlemothers.org. You can find others through your community center, house of worship, or in the phone book. If substance abuse played a part in your fiancé's disappearance, the Al-Anon branch of Alcoholics Anonymous can help, too.

Finally, focus on the here and now by letting your baby be your guide. That little one is programmed to make you live in the moment with his or her ever-changing needs and ability to surprise you with joy. This isn't to say that you will feel wonderful just by tending to your child. Your pain is sure to seem crippling at times. But by tackling each day as it comes, you can leave the past where it belongs, and not be so crushed with worry about the future that you reach for the proverbial crutches of alcohol, painkillers, or french fries.

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