I moved here a while ago - a tough adjustment. We moved for my mom’s boy toy and I’m VERY sick of it – in one year together, so far he's left over SEVEN times.
Now my mom says I need better friends, admittedly she’s right, - I'm the only one of them with a job ($5 an hour). I don’t spend money, but friends are expensive… they blow my pay more than I do.
But I'm not sure if my mom’s any better. I'm 17 and practically raised my six-year-old brother; he even calls me "Mommy" sometimes. His dad was never in the picture.
I want to be a nurse – I’ve been taking care of people my entire life. But with my final school year the stress has tripled, and I don’t know if I'll be able to handle it.
My parents split when I was ten. I still see my dad, sometimes he paid child support, but mostly didn’t. With my mom pregnant, we had to move around from shelter to Salvation Army apartment. Finally, we settled down only to be uprooted by her boyfriend. That’s when I really snapped, on the inside.
I pretend everything's fine and ignore things that bother me.
At the same time my dad stopped talking to us, one of my best friends refused to speak to me. I trusted him, but I think dating caused it.
Now it all seems to be weighing on me 24-7. When I hear something was said about me - me, who’s never done drugs, smoked, or anything illegal, not cut or believed in suicide - it's harder and harder to step away from the edge of the road.
I HATE feeling like this but I’m tired of my life, of being everyone's doormat. This is the first time I’ve told anyone even part of the full story.
So how am I supposed to find real meaning to my life?
Thank you for the gift of trust you’ve given me (and my readers). You knew that we’d believe your story, and that I’d answer you.
The real meaning in your life is that YOU are a valuable person. Especially to your little brother, and to your mom who’s made some choices you don’t like, but has been lucky to have you helping her and reminding her of her responsibilities to keep pushing forward.
More important, you matter to yourself. You’re aware of your own character strengths and goals, and this is a lot more than many people from easier lives achieve by 17. You’ll make an excellent nurse because you bring compassion, caring, and nurturing skills.
I believe you’ll get there. This may be a hard school year, which is natural because of the move and the circumstances. But that doesn’t have to knock you off course.
Talk to a school advisor; explain the distractions of working and looking after your brother, and some instability of home life (believe me, there are many others experiencing this, too).
The school counselor or a trusted teacher can help you decide whether to tackle all the subjects at once, or do some at summer school, or finish high school over two years.
You should also ask whether a college course is a good start rather than university, to graduate and earn sooner, then return to a University course later. In other words, there are different paths to your goal.
When feeling low, call Kids Help Phone for teens, 1-800-668-6868, www.kidshelpphone.ca.
FEEDBACK Regarding the question of when to tell a son his dad isn’t his biological father (Oct. 9):
Reader – “When I read this, I wanted to scream “tell him now!”
“I was adopted. My parents always made this clear from the day I joined them (even though I learned later it caused my mother stress as she worried the birth parents would show up).
“Consequently, I never considered anyone else my parent.
“I’d strongly advise both parents to talk to the young man. I think it’s particularly important that the father address the elephant in the room and assure his son that he considers him one of his own and has never felt differently.
“Yes, first seek professional advice (as Ellie wrote) on the best approach. But push yourself to tell him now. The faster the better, as this conversation will only get more difficult as he grows older.”
Tip of the day:
Even when things are tough, YOU remain valuable to yourself and others.