My family is in crisis. This July, after 18 years of being in a marriage in which there was no real fighting (occasional arguments, you know, the normal) my mother left my father for another man. After a month of begging and pleading from my father, she came back home. Things, however, have gotten out of control.
My father is forcing my mother and I to see a psychiatrist regularly; however, he refuses to go. He says he has no issues. All my dad does anymore is scream and holler at my mom, and when she finally breaks down, he starts in on me. My mom is a nervous wreck- she has lost about 20 pounds and is on several antidepressants/anti-anxiety medicines. He made her quit her job and she isn't allowed to talk on the phone or even go to the grocery store. She cries all the time, but I can't comfort her, I can't do anything because she just gets mad at me. They both blame me for some reason- I don't know why. They have both said, on several different occasions, (I'm paraphrasing) "If it weren't for you this would have never happened" and "You are the reason we have this problem". They claim that I am not doing enough to make us a "family" again. I am the only child, and I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.
I am, and always have been, a straight-A honor student- I've never been in any kind of trouble, at school or otherwise. I have worked since the day I turned 15 and could get a work permit. I am involved in several school activities, and I took a few college classes this past summer.
My mom and I used to be very close, almost like sisters, and my dad and I have always had a good relationship. I feel like I have done everything in my power to make things better- I have talk until I am blue in the face, I have written more letters that I can count, and I have bought more books (and placed them around the house) about re-building lives and such than I can count. I am at a loss. My mom says she's miserable and wants to leave, but she also says she never will because she's scared. My dad just screams.
They alternate between being overly-protective and strict to the point of taking my car away from me and not letting me so much as sit on the porch without permission to being so leient that they don't ask where I am going or when I'll be back for weeks.
I'm at a loss. And I'm scared. I'm scared for them, but I'm scared more for my sanity. I can feel myself slipping further into this depression. My grades are dropping, and I suppose you could say they have just about driven me to the point on drinking. Not literally, but you know.
My question is, what else can I do? I am seriously considering getting emancipated- I have enough money to buy a small trailer, my car is paid off, and I make enough money to pay the bill and lot rent. (Where I live, we don't have apartments unless your elderly, we just have trailer parks, and there are some really nice, clean, safe ones in my area.) I know that if I get emancipated I will be fine on my own, financially, emotionally, physically - I have talked to my boss at work and she is more than willing to work with me on my hours, and I have no intention of quitting school. But, I also know that if I do this I will never have a good relationship with my parents.
Any input would be greatly appriciated- I'm sorry if I rambled or if this is too long- I'm just so... I don't know. I don't know where else to go.
Thanks, Laura C.
BTW- I'm 16, 17 in April.
[This message has been edited by Cherokee1696 (edited 11-27-2002).]
What I would do is see if you can't get some private time with the psychiatrist you and your mother are seeing and say all of this.
To be honest, your father's behaviour sounds emotionally abusive at this point, to both you and your mother. Her affair and her leaving does not make that behaviour non-abusive or okay. Which is something you likely know.
Personally, I don't think that emancipation and leaving if you have to has to ruin your family life forever. I left home early as a result of an abusive situation, and while it certainly took a handful of years, did resume a (much healthier) relationship with my mother in time, something that would not have happened had I stayed home. That isn't to say the scenarios were identical, because they were not, but the effects sound very similar. Just some food for thought.
You're smart for thinking of that rather than simply splitting -- but I would suggest you talk all of this out with the therapist. See what he or she says (mine was very helpful to me at that time as well), both in terms of what is best for you, and in terms of ways to help your mother. He or she may be able to be of help in getting your mother to a better, safer place as well. And getting your father some help, which it's clear he needs.
I have talked with my therapist about the situation, and he has offered to help me achieve emancipation. He agrees that I would be "better off" on my own.
He has also spoken with my father on several occasions, over the phone and when he is waiting on me and my mother, and he has suggested that he, too, seek counseling, but he always refuses. Says he is fine- my mom and I are the ones with "issues".
My mom won't leave; she is terrified of the idea of having to take care of herself financially for the rest of her life (she has always been a homemaker, nothing is in her name and she is convinced, despite me even having my lawyer tell her different, that should she leave again she can only do so with her personal belongings and she will get none of the savings and other things that they have worked for 18 years to acquire. The law in our state clearly states otherwise, but she turns a blind eye to the law now.)
I still don't know what I want to do. I mean, I am somewhat nervous about supporting myself while still in high school- and whether or not I will be able to afford college is a big question right now. But there is always the military, and they will pay for my college. I just wish I was getting more support from my friends. My boyfriend is doing everything he can to talk me out of it; he moved out at 16 and says it was the biggest mistake of his life. But then again, I have a better head on my shoulders and goals and a good job, while when he was 16, he did not. I don't know. I'll keep you posted.
I don't mean to burden you with my own biases, but do please leave the military as a final resort. Especially at this point in time when wartime is fairly imminent.
Good grades and scholarships can pay for your college (more so and better than the military in some cases), and, in fact, being legally emancipated and finanically independent puts you at a very distinct advantage for getting extra money that is from colleges and other scholarship funds, NOT from the military.
You sound pretty able to handle it to me, Laura, and it certainly sounds like a saner choice if living at home is eroding your mental health. And if your therapist is suppportive, that's a really strong vote, in my book.
In terms of your mother, the therapist may be able to be of help there too. Most communities have safe houses to help women in your mother's position transition to living independently.
As for you, if it's best for you and you think you can do it, you can. Again, I did. In terms of college, it meant taking a year off between high school and college and working to save up to help pay costs, AND keeping high grades, but it's doable.
Ask your boyfriend for his support. Let him know that you need it. Sounds like his heart is in the right place, but your situation may not be his, or mine, or anyone else's for that matter. Only you can know what's right for you, love.
Feel free to ask for help as it goes -- good luck to your whole family.
I can't imagine what you must be feeling right now. It's terrible not having a parent on your side, and especially when it's both.
I'll agree with Heather and say that if my home life was so troubled to where my counseler would recommend emancipation, that would have a very large say in my decision.
Do you have any other family you could live with? My aunt/uncle offered to take my sister in so that she would be close to school and have better ground rules.
Again Laura, I am SO sorry about what's going in your life, and respect you SO much for handling it with so much ease and style as you do now. I wish you the best of luck with whatever decision you make, because I can tell how strong you are with grades and a job at such a young age.
Thanks again, for your helpful, supportive responses. This is the only place on the net I have ever felt like someone really cared.
Yes, I am leaving the military as a last resort; however, it is comforting to know that if things ever get really bad that I can just "escape" for a few years, while gaining valuable experience and furthering my education.
No, there is really no family that I can go to. My mom's family all lives in another state, and the idea of leaving my school right before senior year and my job is frightening. My dad's huge family all lives in the area, but they are crazier than he is and I have no relationship with the majority of them, and a bad one with the rest. My boyfriend's parents have offered to let me stay with them. I love his parents, and his dad was the one who introduced us. My boyfriend does not live at home anymore. (I don't want to move in with him, although he has offered, because I'm just not ready for that) I asked him (the father) how that would work if we ever broke up, and he said that I would always be part of the family, even if I wasn't with his son. That made me feel good- its like, there must not be too much wrong with me if someone's parents like me that much, even if its not my own. I wasn't able to get in to see my lawyer about how to go about this, so I won't know anything until after Thanksgiving. I'm guessing that with the holidays upon us, I won't be able to get anything done until after the first of the year.
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