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Name: Julia
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Family issues...need some advice? (Long) - January 30th 2011, 04:01 PM

Throughout my childhood my parents constantly separated and got back together. I would say from age 3 to 13 my parents separated/got back together over four times. When your young your mind can hardly grasp the concept, and therefore each time they got back together, I was hoping it would be "perfect." Well, I was wrong. I have never once witnessed my own family be completely happy. The final straw that led to my parents divorce was my father cheating on my mother with a family friend. They divorced at the start of my eighth grade year when I was 13. My dad now lives with the woman he cheated on my mother with, and her two children.

When my dad first broke the news of the divorce to my older sister and I, he lied and said the reasoning behind the split was not cheating. My sister is 20 now, but at the time was 17 and had a much closer connection to my mother than I did. My sister and mother knew he was lying, and knew he had cheated. (She's quite protective of my mother and I and I believe she was checking my dads phone calls/texts/emails/etc.) I, however, was younger and left in the dark. I didn't believe (or maybe just didn't WANT to believe) that my father would hurt my mother, my sister, and I in this way. Anyways, long story short and fast forward two weeks, my father was moved out and living with his girlfriend and new "family." My sister was going to college in the same time frame, so within the time period of three days I "lost" my sister and father.

I didn't get along well with my mom at the start. Constantly fought... I often blamed her for the divorce being so unaware of what my father was truly doing. Between the ages of 13-14, my life was pretty much a living hell. My mother wanted me to hate my father, and my father wanted me to hate my mother. To this day, two years later, I have not set a foot in my dads new home, nor would I want to. We go out to dinner once a week and "catch up." I cannot bring myself to even consider my father as a parent... because he's not. He acts more childish than I do, and I'M the child. I have always had to bring up conversation about the divorce/the cheating/the pain he's caused our family etc.

I was put into therapy last year because I asked for it. I was having panic attacks and struggling with small tasks of every day life. In my year of therapy, I realized the reason for my attacks was because of my unresolved issues with my father. At age age fifteen, I asked my father to come over when my mother and sister were not home, and I confronted him about every thing he had done in my life to hurt me. I made him very aware of the pain he put not only me through, but my mother and sister through as well. I did not cry once and stared him directly in the eyes while speaking, however, he was a sobbing mess. Once again, I took the adult role.

A year later and I'm doing better. My sister and I have come to terms as best as we can with our father and my mother has tried to do the same. However, there are still times, like last week for instance, where things get a little awkward. I was out to dinner with my dad and he asked me to be supportive of his relationship... I was infuriated at the idea and how he thought that was an acceptable thing to ask of me. He told me he was not going to change and so I either needed to accept him, his girlfriend/mistress, and her children, or I needed to decide to never have a thing to do with them. I told him I feel like I cannot control what he wants to do with his life, but I can control what I would like to do with mine, and that it would not be to support a morally incorrect relationship.

My mothers a nurse and often works 7pm-7am, and with my sister at college, it often leaves me spending time at a friends home. My father thinks its asking too much to come and stay with me so that is out of the question, and so is me going to stay with him and the women he cheated on my mom with. Situations like those arise tension between my mother and I because she truly does feel bad about leaving me, but also needs to be able to make ends meet. I often feel neglected and as though I have nobody to turn to. I hate being dependent and feel like relying on friends is being dependent. My house is nice, and in terms of materialistic things, I'm not lacking anything...but materialistic things mean nothing when you don't have a family there to share them with you. Materialism means nothing to me, and I would much rather have a close family, although I know its out of the question.

My sister is a child psychology major...for obvious reasons, children who have been through a lot and need help are the people she wants to devote her time to. She is a great person and one of the only people able to keep me grounded. My best friends and my boyfriend are always there for me, but sometimes I just wish I had a mom and dad who were more present and concerned with my life... even if that meant just having a conversation about how our days were every once in a while.

I'm not sure if it means anything but my mom struggles with depression, as do half of her siblings. I often feel like I too may have something, but I'm also just a teenager with high strung emotions.

Sorry for writing a novel, but anyone who was willing to read... thank you. And best of luck to all.
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Re: Family issues...need some advice? (Long) - January 30th 2011, 07:29 PM

Hello, Julia! Welcome to TeenHelp. =)

I read your story, and I am so sorry to hear about what's happened over the past couple of years. My parents separated when I was 13, divorced when I was 15. My dad didn't cheat on my mom (as far as I know), but he did start dating as soon as the divorce was finalized... so I can understand (to a certain degree) what it feels like to be betrayed, to not want to support a new relationship one of your parents is having because you feel it's "immoral".

I am glad to hear you have a supportive network of friends, though. =D It must feel frustrating at times to depend on them, because you should be able to depend on your parents instead. How do your friends feel about having you stay over? Do they see it as a burden, or are they happy to accommodate you when needed? If they see it as a burden, then I would definitely suggest finding ways to take up some of that burden. Depending on what your options are for transportation, perhaps you could stay at a library or bookstore for an hour or two on some days in order to study, then head home and see your mom before she leaves for work. If your friends (and boyfriend) are more than happy to have you over, though, then don't be afraid to take advantage of their offers!

When it comes to your mom, I would suggest leaving little notes for her in the morning. When you're home alone at night, you could write about your day vs. talk about it, then leave the message on her pillow for her to read when she gets back from work. I know it's not ideal, but at least you'll still have that line of communication open. As far as your dad is concerned, it sounds like you two just need more time to figure out where you stand as father and daughter, where the boundaries are, etc. That's going to take some time, unfortunately... I know it's been a few years, but in the grand scheme of things, that really isn't too much time to recover from a nasty divorce. Do whatever you feel is best for you - it seems to have worked so far!

I wish you all the best. <3 Feel free to PM me if you ever want to talk (click on my username), whether it's about this or anything else!

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