I just need a bit of advice

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

For anyone that decides to read this, I’m sorry that it is a little lengthy!
I feel completely and utterly alone, and I do not know what to make of my situation. So you understand, I will give some background on what has recently caused many suppressed feelings to emerge.

I am 15 years old, and a few months ago, I lost my best friend of seven years. It was over a moronic fight, which turned into her thinking we weren’t the same friends we used to be, and in turn she decided we needed to end our friendship altogether. I have talked to her maybe twice since our fight, and we now remain civil. BUT- I honestly have no friends in my school. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of true, great friends, but they just don’t live in my town or go to my school. My ex-best friend and I had become so close that we distanced and basically isolated ourselves from our other friends, which in turn, left us friendless (with the exception of each other). And when we stopped being friends, we both realized we had nobody to turn to. Nobody.

She made many friends after. She joined the track team, cheerleading, etc. where she met many new friends and acquaintances. I still remained sort of friendly with only a few upperclassmen and maybe two people in my grade. Her grades are perfect- I’m failing a class and my other grades are declining. She is happier, more radiant, and just seems to be in a better place, where I am a complete loser. She is going somewhere in her life, and I’m going to end up on the street. It’s not that I’m jealous of her, it’s just, without her I realized many things. She’s going to be successful, whereas I probably won’t even make it to college with my horrible grades. I don’t have people to depend on, not even my own mother.

I’ve been begging my parents to move for quite a while, now even more so. My mom agreed that she would make sure I would change schools next year and be happy, and I tried to tough it out, but it gets harder everyday. A few weeks ago my mother and I got into a bit of a fight, which resulted in screaming and near-violence. Many hateful things were said on both ends, and she left to go to my dad’s house (my parents are divorced) to tell him that she didn’t want me to stay with her that day anymore. Some argument ensued over my dad’s current girlfriend (it’s not a jealousy thing, my mom actually came out as a lesbian, but she really dislikes the woman due to past experiences with her) and my mom came back to the house in hysterics. I had never seen someone so upset, I thought somebody had died or something.

Anyway, she told me that she was ‘so sorry’ and that she needed to leave, and that I could have all her stuff, and that she was giving me my life back. She told me she was sorry for making my life so miserable. My mother suffers from serious depression and tends to make situations a bigger deal than they need to be, as you can probably tell simply from this situation. Also, my mother tends to be really immature. But at the time, I really didn’t know what happened. I was so confused, I tried to talk with her and get her to calm down, but she wouldn’t listen to me. After talking to my dad, I was really upset that I was put in the middle of all my parents’ arguments and that there was really nothing I could do or say to make the situation better. I didn’t know if my mom or my dad was telling the truth, who was manipulating things, and I was just so confused.

My brother is the only who really understands what is going on with my family (considering he’s going through the same thing..) but he has never been there for me. I have told him that if he ever needs to talk about anything, I’m here, but he tends to honestly not care whatsoever about how I’m feeling. He usually takes my parents side, and the sibling-bond is not there. It just upsets me that nobody I talk to understands.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. So since my mom left, I haven’t heard from her in weeks, although I’m sure she’s talking to at least my dad. She was the only one who really comforted me about my friendless situation. My dad doesn’t care, and when I try to talk to him or try to even tell him that I wish he would care more, he simply ignores me or doesn’t do anything about it. I just feel trapped, and I feel like I have nobody to depend on.

It’s not like I’m the only bad guy in the situation, although I said some truly deplorable and nasty things to my mom, she’s said equally horrible things to me, things that truly hit below the belt. It’s really exhausting to be in an environment that’s so completely unstable. But even though sometimes I question whether my mom’s mentally ill or not, I do miss her.

I’ve really developed this “I don’t care about anything, my life is going nowhere anyway,” attitude lately, and the consequences of this are less than great. I experimented with trying my first cigarette (I’ve been completely straight edge up unto this instance) and I’m probably going to end up trying different drugs. Even heavy, horrible drugs. I know all the effects of them and everything, but I really just don’t care anymore. I don’t care if I ruin my life. Anytime things get better, they just end up getting so much worse in the end. I just want to move away and start over, but I can’t.

Basically I’m falling into this path I know I shouldn’t be on, and I need some serious advice. I already see a therapist, and have been seeing him every Thursday for over a year. He is incredible, really; he has helped me so much, but I think I need a lot more advice on top of his insight and assistance. I just really don’t know what to do. I’m lazy, I’m tired, I’m done with everything. I just really need some guidance.

A: You’re not falling into a path. You are talking about actively jumping in. Just how do you think that taking drugs and ruining your life is going to help anyone? Your letter shows me that you are smart enough to know better than to throw your own life away just to make a point. You may be tired but you’re not stupid. The situation you’re in is lousy enough without you making it worse.

You asked for advice so I’m going to give you some: First, please understand that I do get it that life hasn’t been very fair to you. You don’t have the stable and loving family that I wish every kid had. But here’s the thing: Not everyone gets the family they deserve. Some people have to find a way to appreciate whatever crumbs of family-ness come from the people they are born to and go elsewhere for the full meal. That means finding older people who think you’re terrific, who will give you guidance, and who will love you for who you are. Sometimes that person is in the family. Grandparents and aunts and uncles are often candidates. Sometimes it takes reaching outside the family to the parents of friends, to a favorite teacher or club leader, or to people in a church or synagogue to find a match. Believe me. There are adults in the world who really care about kids and who will befriend you if you give them a chance. You can’t find such people by sulking or by joining with the losers in school. You find them by getting involved in positive activities and by being willing to initiate conversations.

Secondly, I’m concerned that you are developing a pattern that is going to make nothing but trouble for you in life. When the going gets rough, you want to leave or give up. Your former best friend has learned that she is the one who is in charge of her life. She gets good grades because she studies. She makes friends because she takes risks and goes out for things like cheerleading. There’s nothing magic about it. You could do the same.

Finally: Talk to that wonderful therapist about how you’re feeling. Show him this letter if you haven’t told him all of the story. A therapist only has what you tell him as information to work with. If you give him more, he’ll be able to be more helpful. Work on identifying steps you can take to take charge of your life in a positive way.

I don’t blame you a bit for being discouraged, depressed, and furious that your parents are so wound up in their own issues that they can’t give you what you need. But I do think you have the resources within yourself to build the foundations for a better life. You wrote an insightful letter. You’ve already made good use of therapy. Keep working at it. In only 3 short years, you’ll be either heading to college or beginning your own adult life. Keep yourself open to people who can become like family to you and you will manage to surround yourself with folks who can give you love and support.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 May 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). I just need a bit of advice. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/16/i-just-need-a-bit-of-advice/