It's been nine years and two months since I started living with my dad, and these years have been really difficult and crazy.
I'm not going to say that my dad is completely a bad person or claim that he's better than he actually is. I feel like he's helped me in some ways and hurt me in others, but mostly hurt.
These are the good things about him: he wants to see me successful and send me to college, and I can't help but feel sympathy for him because his father was physically abusive to him when he was a kid and maybe that's why my dad is so unhappy all the time.
When I first started living with him, I was fresh off the boat from another country and being bullied in school because I had a different accent, but he always told me that it was my fault and that they were right.
The emotional manipulation never really stopped. He made me quit the one extra-curricular activity I cared about because he didn't want to drive me to events even if I was too young to get my license at that time. He got married to someone my junior year of high school and neglected to tell me for nine months until I found his marriage certificate. When he was on the phone with his new wife, he would lie to her about me and tell her that I was a bad person, but when she met me, she was surprised that I wasn't what he told her I was like.
Those were the big things. Mostly it was small things like comparing me to my friends and telling me my friends were better, and if we were ever in a fight, calling me a bitch and never apologizing to me about anything hurtful he said in the fight.
My dad is paying for my four years of college and I feel guilty for saying all of those things because hey, he's at least supporting me financially. But even if my GPA and SAT scores are high, my ability to trust people and connect emotionally is definitely not. I became very depressed the summer after high school and stopped connecting to the few friends I had. And lately, I've noticed bad things about myself. I can't stop but think that the kindness that other people are giving me is either false or because they don't know the real me. I also have a tendency to be nice to people who hate me and take the people who love me for granted because I don't really trust them. Those are my bad thoughts, my bad days.
However, there's good news. I'm back home from my first quarter of college and I've realized that I have the potential to do well on my own. I have a decent GPA of 3.25 at the moment which I'm planning to get up next quarter and I know what my weaknesses in studying are. I've made a few friends that I love hanging out with and I've started to realize that some of the negative things I've thought about myself are wrong.
So my question is, where do I go from here?
How do I cope with the times when I live with my dad? I usually see my extended family (who I'm much closer to but live a continent away from) during summer holidays, but spending winter and spring holidays with my dad is stressful and taxing.
Are there things to do that will make me less depressed? When I'm depressed, I have a tendency to eat too much and not be able to sleep at night and get up at 10 in the morning and not get dressed.
How can I be more self-reliant? I know the answer to that question, actually. I still haven't gotten my permit or license and I would like to start working again. And about the money I earn, how can I learn to use it responsibly?
How do I make friends again?
How do I stop being so anxious?
Most importantly, how can I believe in myself?
Posts: 2 | From: Hogwarts | Registered: Dec 2012
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Hi pumakoala, I definitely know that relationships with parents can play a huge role in your life, particularly during this time of transition to college and living on your own. Your relationship with your father sounds difficult, and has definitely affected the way that you feel about yourself and relationships with others.
In my opinion, the first step in moving forward and taking control of your life and creating positive changes is to recognize what the issue is, which you have done a wonderful job of. It sounds like you are aware of the impact your relationship with your father has had on your life, and are ready to address some of the problems that has caused within your life.
Having a space to process your relationship with your dad, whether you are living with him or not, is extremely important. Is it logistically/financially possible to see a therapist? Mental health professionals are a great option for on objective listener to hear about your past and current experiences and help you move forwards. This can also help you explore your depression and anxiety and potential solutions. If not, we can talk about other options that might work for you.
As you continue on in your new college adventure (which is super exciting and wonderful that you are doing so well, by the way), you will likely find yourself building a new life outside of your relationship with your dad. It's possible that this might make your time over breaks with him a little more tolerable. How often do you talk to each other? Are you in school in a different town? Creating space can also help support the success that you are achieving on your own.
It sounds like you DO know how to make friends again: you are already doing it! Making friends doesn't happen overnight, and the fact that you have made a few in your first semester is great. I think that you are doing all the right things and asking the right questions.
It's been difficult for me to try to find a therapist. I first started by going to the one my university offered me and after four sessions, she referred me to a few people off campus, but they were either full with their schedules or never responded back. After a while I completed my first session with someone from a public agency but she's an intern and still working on her license so I haven't actually found a therapist who I'm planning to stay regularly with for a while.
When I'm in college, I live on-campus, as I'm two hours away from home. I don't really have a regular time I call my dad and we don't really have in-depth conversations.
I don't know if my dad's going to pay for therapy at the moment. He's expressed clearly that he thinks therapy is a waste of money and I would prefer to get a job to try and lessen the expense.
The thing about making friends is that right now, I'm afraid of getting too close to them or hurting them in some way, even if some times, I have been vulnerable and they've been okay with it, or they've told me something personal. I feel like I can sabotage myself at times and there's this voice in my head telling me that I'm not really good enough.
When I was younger, I felt bad because I never really had a best friend or was very close to my parents and my grandparents and aunts had their own lives even if they loved me deeply. I eventually realized that no one owes me anything and everyone's life is their main priority, so how do I find the strength to support myself and feel good about the decisions I make? How do I create my own definition of right and wrong?
Posts: 2 | From: Hogwarts | Registered: Dec 2012
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I'm glad that you have taken the time to look into therapists in your area. It sounds like getting a job would both address your concerns about paying for therapy once you find a therapist you would like to regularly visit, as well as to support yourself in your transition to becoming self-reliant. Depending on the therapy options in your area, you might be able to find an individual or group the provides sliding-scale sessions based in your income, which might help ease any financial stress that comes along with taking care of your mental health.
I understand your concern with getting too close to someone. Putting yourself in a vulnerable situation really opens yourself up to getting hurt, and it sounds like you have been hurt in the past by your father. I think if you find a friend that you might be able to trust, opening up to them and sharing your worries might help ease that fear. That voice that keeps popping up in your head seems to not be reflective of the situation you're actually in. You are meeting people, and they are opening themselves up to you, but that voice in your head seems to really be repeating the negative messages that your father has ingrained in you over the years.
While it might not feel like it right now, there are people out there who WILL prioritize you in their lives, and while they might not owe you anything, they will want to share with you and be a part of your life. Understanding your own self-worth and feeling good about yourself needs to come first, though.
In terms of tangible goals, it sounds like you feel getting a job would address some of your concerns, and I believe that being self-sufficient also has the potential to contribute to increased self-esteem and self-worth, provided you feel like you are able to balance your personal and academic life as well.
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