I Need Advice And Help ASAP Please!
I'm sixteen years old (almost seventeen), and last night I got into a physical fight with my mother. I hope that this was the climax of what has been a really terrible past six years, so that I can now begin to reinvent myself and live a much happier life.
Here's just a laundry list of a few of the sorts of stresses I've been experiencing:
1. My dad died this past January at age 59. I wasn't exactly expecting him to die as suddenly as he did, but c'est la morte. I was told while I was at school one early afternoon, made to go to his house, retrieve our two cats who had been starving for three days while his body was rotting, collect a few of my belongings, and clean up some of the mess left behind while classical music was blaring from the radio and the stench of death permeated the air.
My mother (who is 49) was not supportive during this time. She made herself out to be some sort of victim, deflecting the attention away from my father to herself. Her brother made it a point to tell me that I am a terrible child (and maybe this is true, but even so, the timing could have been better) and that I should lay off my mother even though I hadn't really said much to her since he died.
2. My parents were divorced when I was two years old. They had joint custody of me, and I would spend one week at my dad's house, and the next at my mom's, alternating back and forth, and I really liked that system. I now live with my mother full-time, and it's been awful not really having an opportunity to get away from her the nights she was at home as opposed to work or her girlfriend's house. I have to sleep on the couch at her house.
3. I flew to another state with his ashes with my mother who had managed to hurt her leg the day before and threatened to cancel the flight because she had sprained a ligament in her knee. When we finally arrived, after I had pushed her around in a wheelchair through security, she made it a point to be rude to my father's family who were taking care of everything. I was so stressed that on the day of his memorial service I had random nose bleeds.
4. My dad always wanted me to go to a top-ranked university and not the local college my mother insists that I will be going to. If I go to the local university, I feel I'll be disappointing him. My mother wants me to stay in the city I've grown up in, go to university here, and live at her house to take care of it as well as the animals she has here and run errands for her like I've been doing since I've gotten my license.
5. I've taken advanced placement and honors courses since the fifth grade. At this point, I'm absolutely exhausted, almost disgusted by my routine - going to school, working, stressing, et cetera. I am in the second semester of my junior year in high school, taking AP US History, AP Environmental Science, and Honors Pre-calculus, and I'm starting to ask myself why I stress and push so hard. I used to do so to please my father, but when he died, I kept pushing, pushed even harder maybe, to try to please my mother.
She, however, has never been involved in my education and would much rather I went and did something fun with her or do a chore for her than do my homework. Simply put, I feel like my childhood and teen years are being stolen from me because almost all I ever do is homework, attend club meetings, do errands and chores for my mother, take care of her animals, et cetera.
6. My mother hasn't been a parent to me since my middle school years. She would drink a gallon of sangria every night and take her anger out on me by means of emotional and verbal abuse (physical abuse has been a bit rarer). When I entered high school, she got a bit better, but has gotten worse somewhat recently, namely last semester around August or September when she began having an affair with a former co-worker, doing drugs, drinking more heavily, and going to clubs (she made me drive the woman she was cheating on her girlfriend with and her to a gay bar one evening around 2 A.M).
7. My mother and I went on college visits of Spring Break because that's what I was supposed to do with my dad over this year's break. We saw quite a few, one I absolutely fell in love with - and she loved it, too! - but the second we got back in the car to drive home she told me that the week had been a waste of time because I was going to our local university and living at home so I wouldn't have any debt, but the undertone was that she wanted me to stay put so she could continue to control my life and have an errand girl.
Last night was my breaking point.
I asked her if I could spend the night at a friend's house after going to a prom, and she started yelling at me that she knew what I was doing because she had done the same and was accusing me of running the streets which essentially meant having sex, drinking, and doing drugs. I'm a good kid. I don't have sex, I don't do drugs, but I did drink in the past mainly when my mother supplied the booze. Honestly? I grew bored of it. It just wasn't much of a thrill for me, so I stopped. I was really angry with her after she accused me of "running the streets," so I took my friend home and headed for home myself.
When I arrived, she acted as though nothing was wrong, and I was even more infuriated. Words were exchanged, her being mostly condescending, saying I was an idiot, acting like a toddler, what have you, and I just kept repeating that just because she was a bad teenager and did drugs, had sex, drank, dropped out of school, et cetera, that it did not necessarily mean I would do the same. She would evade my questions when I asked why she thought I was like she was, and what I had done to not earn her trust. She just smiled in her little condescending way and said I should be thankful that I made it home before curfew.
She kept on, and kept on, condescending, condescending, and I finally snapped. I flew at her, and I hit her repeatedly and screamed at her for probably ten minutes tops and by no means without pause (I stopped, and she'd say some other hurtful thing, and I'd hit her again until I just finally quit and let her say whatever she wanted), but controlled in the sense that I did not hit her as hard as I wanted to because I didn't want to really hurt her or anything. I just wanted her to hear me for a change which she still didn't so nothing was accomplished.
The only thing that she said that stuck with me after that was that I was "long-suffering" and I was allowed to snap because my life had been so hard – I think that’s true. Goodness knows she snaps all the time, throws tantrums. This was the first time I'd ever gone so far, and I hope it'll be the last.
This morning, I woke up, and she ignored me. Then, when I got her attention she told me I had better apologize or she'd call the cops and press charges. I broke down, as I've done so many times this year already - too numerous to count. She had said it was understandable that I be upset, and then, she went back on what she'd said.
What should I do now? I know she's going to hold it over my head for the rest of my life. I know I shouldn't have hit her, and I did apologize. But what now? This had been 16 years in the making, and it was a relief, but also a burden still.
Please, help me.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. You are obviously a very intelligent young woman. Your writing is sophisticated and well thought out. It reflects a maturity in your thinking that is a further reflection of your emotional stability--which is quite impressive in light of your circumstances.
Your mother sounds like someone who is emotionally unstable, and unpredictable in her behavior. I know that makes your life very challenging, which is why you're asking for help here. I will suggest some things that might be helpful to you.
I think your best strategy is to develop a regular practice that will strengthen you personally and emotionally. I don't think you have an anger problem, from what you've shared here. I think your outburst of aggression toward your mother was understandable--but I'm sure you don't want anything like that to happen again. It puts you way too much at risk. Your mother still has legal custody over you, and can make things very difficult for if she chooses--even moreso than she already is. We want to avoid that, to create as much safety as possible for the next year or so, however long it takes for you to get out on your own and away from her influence.
I strongly encourage you to do the three part journaling process described on this page. The three parts will help you 1) review your past trauma 2) express your anger in a safe and healthy manner, and 3) begin shifting your mental focus to the good things in yourself and the world around you. This third part is very important, as that is where you strengthen yourself internally.
I also suggest you start thinking about how you can get out on your own and financially independent from your mother as soon as possible. Your intelligence is very high, and you should be able to get into a college with perhaps a scholarship, if you set your mind to it. If there are adult friends or family members who believe in you and see your value, ask them for help.
Believe in yourself...you are a person of great value and goodness. Watch this great video, and imagine that the singer is singing directly to you.
You have a brilliant mind. As you do the journaling exercises I recommended, watch your mind at work, and do not take it for granted. It is a great gift, and you use it well.
Feel free to write again if I can be of any more assistance.
My very best to you,
P.S. I had to edit parts of your story, due to length restrictions, not because of quality.