Don't Blame, Take Responsibility
By Mia, age 17, North Carolina
Sweet Advice Featured Columnist
Courtney, age 14, writes:
Okay, so a while back I started hanging out with "the wrong crowd," I guess you would say. I started smoking in August, and then in October I smoked some marijuana. Well, after that I decided that it wasn't giving me the high I was looking for, so I tried some pills. The pills worked good, but I knew it was seriously deadly. But at this point in life I didn't care.
My dad is emotionally abusive to me, calling me names, and constantly yelling and screaming. It's horrible. But when I was high, it was all okay. Well, a few weeks ago my phone went off at about 3 am, so my mom checked it the next morning. The message was about some drugs, and yes, I was finally caught.
It was horrible, but I decided to totally open up with my mom and tell her why I was doing the drugs. I told her the main reason was because I didn't like the way my dad was treating me. I didn't like the way he acts, and I don't like living where I do. So we had a meeting at my best friend Kaitlyn's house to discuss the drug problems, because she was doing it too. So we were totally honest, and while there my sister mentioned about Kaitlyn and I cutting ourselves, so yes, that was out in the open too.
Well, a few weeks after all this drama was over, my dad got into an argument. It wasn't the normal kind either. We were screaming and cussing, and he busted my lip. So after that, Kaitlyn and I had to talk to some therapists and some school counselors. It really isn't helping that much actually. It's making it worse for us.
My dad and Kaitlyn's dad are major alcoholics, and are on some drugs. We understand that our moms don't want to leave our dads behind, but they don't understand where we're coming from. When they were growing up, they all had dads who loved them, and they could have friends over. Our fathers' alcoholism has completely destroyed our entire childhood. We were those kids who couldn't have friends over, the only kids in the class who couldn't go to the birthday parties. When we were in 1st grade my dad went to rehab, so I couldn't play on the baseball team like I wanted to.
What do you think we should do? Should we try to forgive and forget? Do you understand where we're coming from?
Childhood is a state of mind, and it goes so much faster than anyone could ever think. I grew up to 8 years old with an alcoholic and drug abusing father. I used to think when he would drag me through the house by my hair that the drugs gave him an excuse, because he couldn't help it. But you may know yourself that drugs don't make that big of a difference.
Forgiving and forgetting is easier said than done. Honestly, 10 years down the road, you may forgive, but truly you will never forget. Life isn't fair sometimes. It's worse for some than others, and sometimes you'll see someone else and wonder why their life is better than yours, but on the inside they may have it just as bad, if not worse.
I am just now getting back into contact with my dad a little over a year ago, and now he has 3 other children, and I see them play, laugh, and spend time together, things he never did with me. And I can honestly say I feel let down. Nevertheless, he is my father, so forgive him? I still haven't and I have definitely not forgotten.
But one day down the road he will be gone, and I will know I tried. You cannot blame him solely; you lost your childhood because of his alcohol abuse, but you also abused drugs and your body. You cannot use the excuse that it's his fault - you did the drugs.
Courtney, this is your life, not his, no matter how he treats you or how your friend is treated. Doing drugs and cutting isn't hurting him - it's only hurting you. You're becoming him; if you stoop to his level, you are no better than he is. Yes, after a while drugs and alcohol abuse is addictive, but it takes the first few times for people to become that way. It's your choice to pick up a beer or swallow a pill. I believe you should continue to see the professional help you have been visiting, and I think you should ask your therapists and counselors if they think you and Kaitlyn should have a family session with your dads.
Courtney, this is your life, not his. You cannot let his mistakes destroy your life and what you could have from it. I know your pain - the loss of childhood is painful, and it will be with you for the rest of your life - but don't waste and ruin your teenage and early adult years.
Don't Give Up,
Editor's Note: Each of us struggles through life with one or more handicaps, disadvantages of some kind. For each person, the struggle is different, and by no means is it fair or the pain equal. We may have grown up with poverty, or a physical ailment or limitation. We may be the child of divorce, or of abusive or alcoholic parents. We may dislike aspects of our physical appearance, or lack natural athletic, social, or academic abilities. It's easy to blame our parents, God, society, our school system, and so on for our situation. I applaud Mia for recognizing that there comes a point when, in order to move forward, we need to accept the hand we were dealt and make the best of it. Victory over adversity is better than victimhood by excuse. The best thing for Courtney and all of us is to call on our inner or spiritual strength and say to ourselves every day, "This isn't going to ruin my life - I'm going to beat this!" - Stephanie Lynn