From a teen in the United Arab Emirates: I’m a 15 year old girl. I’m highly stressed when not in control. I cry very easily. If I’m around (or living with) more than two people, I experience anxiety. Here’s some background.
For seven years, I lived with an in-house maid, with my working mum making appearances in the evening. Then, I dropped out of school and moved in with my dad in another city. Here, I had the house to myself every other day. He boarded at the construction site he managed thrice a week.
My paternal grandma also lives here six months out of the year, traveling to her home country every three months. When she’s here, my dad is away for even longer. My grandma and I have a language barrier and only talk superficially.
[Issues with my dad: He leaves me large amounts of money when he leaves, as a substitute for love. He apologizes by buying me Cheetos. I resent that I have never gotten a verbal apology from him. When home, he’s either on his work phone, watching reality TV or sleeping early. He’s also highly unaware of himself and escapes confrontation. Which is MUCH needed.]
So, I am left with no support;
My mum has been in another country for too long. (She’s the only one that understands things right.)
And somewhere along the way, I was depressed and cut off all my friends. I haven’t befriended anyone new because I have very strong opinions and am forced to pretend;be tactful;in social situations.
Now, the issue I’m currently (!) dealing with is my paternal extended family who’s visiting, including an aunt that invades my space, and an uncle that criticizes my weight and body in addition to sexualizing me. (My paternal family defends him.) Plus two cousins. For the last two days, my aunt has been entering my room without knocking and ignoring the visual sign on my door, which I resent. I also fear leaving my room and having my uncle look at me. Because of this, I locked my door earlier today and my aunt keeps calling for and haunting me. I haven’t replied.
I hate being around so many people.I am highly stressed and have been under my blanket for a couple of hours. I’m also considering staying here till they leave in a few days.
That’s about it. What label can I give to what I’m experiencing?
A: I don’t think there is a “label”. It sounds to me like you are feeling unloved, lonely and scared. That’s reason enough to be anxious and upset. It sounds like your dad doesn’t know how to be a father. Your mom can only mother from a distance. However well-intended your grandmother may be, there’s a language barrier. Now you are living with an uncle who makes you feel unsafe. Yikes! The result of all this is that you have almost no experience with how to live comfortably in a family or how to be relaxed in a social situation.
Sadly, I doubt very much that you will be able to change your family. I do wonder if you can change your situation. If your family can afford it, you might find it helpful to go to a boarding school. That would help you get used to living with other people. It would also provide you with an opportunity to learn how to make friends and get along with others. School mates often become “family” for each other.
If that isn’t possible, then I do suggest you get more involved in your present school. You are not going to learn how to be social by hiding under a blanket. You will only learn how to make friends and enjoy other people’s company by being with other people. A low key way to start is to join an activity, sport or volunteer group. Such groups are at least initially focused on getting a job done, not so much on each other. By joining, you increase the pool of people who share some of your interests and who can potentially become friends.
Yes. You will need to be tactful at times. Tact is what keeps the social wheels going. It isn’t being “fake”. It’s how people get along and develop trust in each other. Once there is trust, there will be room for your stronger opinions.
It’s sad but true that not every kid gets the family they deserve. The good news is that someday you can make one. In the meantime, you need to take care of yourself by learning how to create and keep a few good friends who can provide the support and love you need and deserve.
I wish you well.