I Can’t Handle Failure?
Lately I’ve been feeling like nothing is going right in my life and I’m just too tired to deal with it. I go to boarding school and my relationship with my parents has been deteriorating because they limit my freedom a lot when I’m at home by not letting me go out and my mom especially manipulates me into doing things her way all the time. When things don’t go her way she sometimes blows up at me and yells at me calls me a failure and says she doesn’t want to talk to me or care for me. I’ll spend whole days just in my room and she’ll pretend I’m not there. These episodes have occurred every few months for my whole life but lately it’s been several times a month. I’ve started to keep aspects of my personal/academic life to myself because I just want to avoid this kind of situation. For example, I’m working on a research project that I’m very stressed about but I didn’t tell my mom because she would get stressed and we’d end up yelling at each other. I was also dating someone and I didn’t tell them because I didn’t want to get yelled at. But then about a month ago is when everything kind of fell apart. My boyfriend broke up with me because his personal life was also falling apart and he couldn’t commit to a relationship. Initially, I accepted this answer but later I couldn’t shake the suspicion that he was just lying to make me feel better and that he just didn’t like me anymore. That some things about me were off-putting to him. Then my research project just kept hitting dead ends while everyone else’s seemed to be progressing. Then a few days ago I accidentally caused an evacuation by burning Teflon plastic and creating highly toxic fumes in the lab. The teacher keeps bringing it up and I sometimes have to try not to cry when he does. This has made all my self-loathing and guiltiness and embarrassment worse and I feel like I’m failing academically and also failing as a person. Am I just bad at handling life? Or is it normal to feel like this?
A. If I were to summarize the letter that you’ve written, I would say that the letter was about parenting and self-responsibility. It is every parent’s job to raise their child. The child needs tremendous amounts of time and nurturing. How good a job the parents do, raising the child, will have a tremendous determining effect upon the child. Parents must do more than just educate their child. They must make their child feel safe, protected, valuable and loved. They must instill within the child a sense of humility, responsibility, and much, much, more. Every mistake they make will hurt the child and every parent will make mistakes. Hopefully, not too many and not too large. Some parents do intentionally harm their children, fortunately this is not the norm. Usually, the harm that parents do to children is unintentional. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, either way, it is equally harmful.
When someone does the best that they can for you but still fails, you owe them your gratitude and thanks. They did not succeed and you were harmed because of their failure, so why thank them? Because of their effort and their intentions. They tried. They did their best. They succeeded at many things and enriched your life in many ways but yet they failed you in some very special and important ways. You thank them for caring and trying. Their failure may be due to bad luck, poor timing or most likely an inability, a weakness.
Parents raise their child to become a fledgling adult at around 18 years of age. At around this point in time the controls are turned over to the young adult. Mostly, what will happen from this point on is that the former child will make his own decisions and will prosper or suffer in life based on the correctness of those decisions. How well the former child makes decisions will largely be determined by how well prepared the child was by his or her parents. Well parented former children are well prepared and will do well. Poorly parented former children are poorly prepared and will do poorly.
A former child who was poorly prepared, does not need to remain that way. A correction process can and should take place. This may come from self-awareness or from counseling. Yes, it is your responsibility to make the necessary corrections and gain the missing knowledge and developmental skills.
In short, it’s up to you to correct any mess that your parents’ made. After all, who else is going to do it? Your parents don’t have the ability, they have already proven that to you. They did their best, they tried but they came up short. Now it’s up to you. Read books, study psychology, go into therapy, or do a combination of all three.
A famous American pop singer-songwriter once wrote and sang that “breaking up is hard to do.” The truth is “growing up is hard to do.” That’s the real truth and I am not famous, or a songwriter or singer. Growing up is hard, really hard and that’s the bad news. The good news is, it’s hard for everybody, always has and always will be. They’ve all survived it and so will you. Have faith — it will get better. Good luck my friend.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Randle, K. (2017). I Can’t Handle Failure?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/08/10/i-cant-handle-failure/