This is a very, very sad situation. You are missing out on the love and care that every child deserves. Your parents are missing out on knowing their sensitive and thoughtful daughter. A wedge has been driven between you and your sisters. Everyone loses. What you are describing is emotional abuse. Like every child, you want your parents to love and protect you so you keep trying in spite of the way they treat you. But it has worn you down. A part of you is accepting your parents’ judgment that you aren’t worth taking care of. Sadly, you are now treating yourself the way they treat you.
It’s time for a healthy rebellion. A healthy rebel decides for herself how to live a healthy and meaningful life. A healthy rebel uses anger and frustration as fuel to get out of a toxic situation. A healthy rebel decides that Mom and Dad are just plain wrong and sets out to prove it by living as excellent a life as she can.
You’re 17. With some hard work, you can probably qualify for scholarships and get yourself out of the house and into a college next year. Talk with your school guidance people about how to identify schools you can get into and afford and how to get financial help. If school isn’t your thing, see if maybe you’d like to do a “gap year” (See the article on PsychCentral called “Are You Ready for College? Alternatives for the Unsure” ). The point is to get out of the house and into some new experiences that will introduce you to new people and lift your self-esteem.
Meanwhile, love yourself enough to start working out again and start using your acne medicine. You’ll feel better. Take part in extracurricular activities and get a part-time job. Doing these things will build your resume and will give you some money to save for school or whatever other option you choose. Most important, activities and a job will keep you out of the house and away from the criticism. With a lot of effort and a little luck, you will also find some friends to hang out with. Positive support from friends can be a powerful antidote to what you’re going through at home.
You may at some point want to find a therapist to help you if you can’t shake the negative messages you’ve been getting for so long. I’m sorry you don’t think your school counselors are trustworthy. See if there is a women’s center associated with the college in your town. If so, they may have free counseling. Another option is to call the hotline at Boys Town (1 800 448 3000). Counselors are available 24/7 to talk to kids who are having parent problems, depression, school problems or abuse. The service is free and confidential.
I’m very, very glad you wrote. That may be the first sign of the healthy rebel in you.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on December 2, 2008.