Author: Valery B.
My family does not support me – what do I do next?
For the past couple of months, I have not been able to laugh at home or even fake a smile. My lips are always curved down as to express sadness, my eyes divert gazes as to signify lost communication, my head is always angled towards the floor as to divulge pain. In return, however, I receive ignorance and a ear-full of familial laughter, which I am conveniently excluded from.
I used to hide the fact that I cry. Now, I wear my makeup-stained face with an unwilling pride, just to show that I am hurt. I used to yell and criticize to show my anger. Now, I sit in silence, like a muted radio, constantly playing songs but never being heard. I used to tell my family – or, at least, my mother – everything on my mind, seeking not advice but rather a listener who would support my teeming adversities. Now, I keep everything to myself, locking everything up because nobody is there to listen.
My family has financially cut me out, claiming that until I act my age and learn to be responsible, they will not support my needs. When I educate about, spread awareness of, and work towards destigmatizing Eating Disorders, they do not show up at my events unless I give them a valid reason to attend. They say that, when I turn 18, I will no longer be their responsibility, so I can leave and never come back. Most of all, I constantly overhear them speaking about my future – specifically about how I will never make it in college, how I will never receive any scholarships, and how I will never succeed in life. They mockingly laugh when I share my future plans and scornfully comment that I am not thinking straight, that I will never make a career from what I would like to do.
I am not a perfect child. I curse, I can be mean, I am emotional and angry. I will not speak to a family member who I am upset with unless they virtually communicate with me, for I simply cannot look them in the face or hear their voice, knowing what they had put or are currently putting me through. I am fragile, like cracked glass, and every incident of familial pain brings me closer to a complete crack. But, does that make me a bad person? Does that make me deserving of ignorance, pain, and seclusion?
I have always wondered why nobody in my family has tried to reach out to me (virtually reach out to me at the least). They act as if I do not exist, as if the family would be perfect without me in it. Rather than acknowledging my moods and pains, they spend their days laughing, eating, and going out together. Where am I at these times? Well, I am sitting in my room or going on short walks or trying to read a book. I am alone.
Could all of these stressors lead to more Mental Illnesses or, perhaps, resurgences of those long forgotten? Will my feelings at home transcend to my academic and social lives? Will I ever be able to smile and be happy again? I wish I could answer these questions and give myself closure. But, I cannot. And, nobody else in my situation would be able to. Those who hurt just need to live day-by-day and let bygones be bygones.
This is where I have to clarify that this post is neither a farewell address nor a vent of culpability. I am not trying to put blame on my family for being the way they are. There are things in life I cannot change – things that will never change. My mother’s humming, for instance, or the way her voice derisively rises when I say something out-of-line, even if my out-of-line is innocent and unintentional, are things I cannot change. My father, unable to outwardly show his love and support, will never be able to do the aforementioned, regardless of how much I may need those things from him.
There are things about me – bad qualities and habits of mine – that I know my parents would like to change. I have a temper, I can be rude, I ignore when I am upset. I fail to act like an adult because sometimes all I want to do is be held and listened to by my parents. But, again, I cannot change, at least not right now.
This post is meant to go out to all the parents and adults in the world. If your child is ignoring you, if he or she is crying and is in evident pain, do not further seclude them and pretend they are not there. If the only way they will communicate with you is by virtual means, get on your cell phone, open your email, and message them! Build that line of communication. Show them that you are willing to reach out to them, that you care about their feelings and well-being. Your children will make mistakes, lavishly waste money, do stupid things with their friends, maybe even get arrested or rigorously disciplined. But, they are still your children. They are still your blood. They will still come to you when they need help, even after ignoring you for days, months or years. They will rely on you financially, perhaps for their entire lives, for they trust that you, as parents, will always be there to help. They will hate and love you at the same time when they do not know what they want or what they need.
Parents and adults – please do not shut us out. Give us a chance to learn who we are and how to be. Hold our hands during times of both turmoil and success. Teach us how to love ourselves and those around us. Be kind to us even when we are unkind. Show us how to act with eloquence and sophistication when all we want to do is succumb to anger. We are your children, and we need you – for guidance, support, and love (even when we cannot reciprocate that love back to you). Remember: we need you.