- Calling my parents and telling them I was critically wounded in an accident
- Getting hurt in a car surfing accident
- Getting myself kicked out of the house due to my attitude and language use (putting it nicely)
2010 PRO YOUTH WORKER
Dear Mom and Dad,
Did you know it has been four months since the razor has made it's last impression on my wrist? Four months since I watched the blood trickle down my arm for the last time? Did you know I made a promise never to do it again? So far I've kept that promise to myself, but trust me, there are still nights I want to break it. Any rainy and sad day; anything I don't believe I can handle—-and my blood, sweat and tears want to flow. Did you even know this was going on? I started to cut myself in
the middle of last year. It was an absolutely brutal time. Where were you? Do you even know why I would start? Take a glimpse at my life.
Did you know I had no friends? Did you know I have no support here at home? Did you realize I had nothing? You and I constantly fought, and then you hit me with the possibility of moving away and that hung over me. Then there were the guys. One I trusted let me down in the worst possible way and the jerk I was dating hurt me more than loved me. I could go on and on. Did you know that many of these things are still with me today?
I’ve found a better way to cope. I wouldn’t say I’m TONS happier, but I am a bit. My heart is still bruised, and I’m still broken and bleeding. People I trust still find the need to kick me when I’m down, but whenever I’m upset I just remember that each day I go without adding another scar to my body, is a day closer to conquering this addiction. It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. It’s been harder, but before I hit rock bottom, I never realized how deep in it I actually was.
Just thought you should know
My family is one of the lucky ones. I have both parents, a stable home, and have never truly known death in my life. We are like the Brady Bunch without all the weird serial killer behavior and bell bottom pants. So now that we have that out of the way and you all thoroughly hate my guts, let’s begin. I thought rather than tell you about my family, I’d talk about families in general. I promise not to include any more rainbows and sunshine if you keep reading… okay, well maybe a little unicorn frolicking in a meadow if I have the time.
You’d enjoy that, wouldn’t you? Here goes…
The physical needs of the human race are well know to anyone who has the ability to form a coherent thought (also, apparently Dane Cook knows them too, much to the chagrin of people with senses of humor). That is to say, what our body needs in order to survive is an intake of water, food, oxygen, and some form of shelter from the outside world. But the human condition is maintained by more than just sitting in your house eating Funyuns and drinking a 2 liter bottle of 7-up while playing old N64 games on your flat screen.
There is another type of need, which we must address in order to stay emotionally happy:
companionship. It is the people who provide for this need, even when we don’t reciprocate,
who are our families.
Now a stereotypical thing to do here would be to quote from a reliable source the true
meaning of the word family and, from that, tease out an essay worthy of that ‘C+’ from the English teacher who really doesn’t like you (I know, I know, She’s got it in for you). The problem is, I don’t aim that high. Instead, I present you with this half ***** attempt from Wikipedia:
“Family… is an group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence.” (sic). All that those fancy words mean is that family is either the people you live with, have a friendship with, or share the same blood with (insert vampire joke here).
The point is family is what you make of it. So, why is it then that so many people put-up with so much crap just to keep the shambles from falling any further? Some say love is blind, I say it’s retarded (in the fun loving ‘unicorn frolicking in a meadow’ sort of way). I feel that sometimes the best option is a new start. All the remedies in the world can’t heal you if you are still drinking poison.
Contrary to what you may have gleaned from my long winded stream-of-consciousness style writing, I in no way support you getting an emancipation at 13 years old because your parents grounded you for a week when you stole their car and wrecked it after an all night binge at your local pub. My intention was to focus you more on the company you keep: your friends in other words.
Many people I know have that one friend who they used to consider family. Now they are a little older, a little wiser, and realize that their once lovable tiger cub of a friend has grown up, and is eating the villagers. For some reason beyond everyone else’s comprehension, they keep this friend in their inner circle. They’ll scold the friend every now and again, possibly even have a fight, but eventually they reconcile; and, pretty soon another person goes missing (a metaphorical person usually, unless your friend really is a tiger or other large predator).
I’ve been in that situation before and I did the only thing I could think to do.
I kept them as a friend, but distanced myself.
I monitored my words and actions around them.I erected impassable barriers protected by grey wizards.
In short, I did everything I could without cutting them off completely. They could no longer get at my inner workings and mess around. This may seem a sad story but it was required in order for everyone involved to grow. The greatest thing about your closest friends is they can be whoever you’d like them to be. It’s a privilege to be on the inside loop and that’s something we sometimes lose sight of. That love you feel for that person may still be there, but that doesn’t mean they deserve your friendship.
Well, if you made it this far in: Congratulations. You survived. There’s no t-shirt, but you can be proud of yourself. Brag to people about it if you want. I hope I provided a break from the norm and cut up some of these saddest stories ever told by anyone who hasn’t been to Africa. I feel depressed just thinking about them. Go get a latté. It’ll make you feel better.
“Mommy, read it again, please.” My toddler pushes the fairytale book open again. Her eyes stare at me with a puzzled look. I wipe my eyes quickly nodding and take hold of the Cinderella book for the second time.I tell the story and get to the point where Cinderella is crying in the garden and her fairy godmother appears. I feel the tears bubble in my throat again.It has been a month since I said good-bye to my fairy godmother. Ever since I can remember I thought that the fairy godmother in this tale was based on my own godmother, Judy. They both looked the same and taught unconditional love.When my mom died, Judy was my go-to person to talk about anything or to just listen.As my dad’s anger grew grieving for my mom, he focused on me as a target of his abuse. Judy faded away when she moved towns away. My dad’s abuse isolated me. I was afraid to tell anyone what was happening at home.From the time I was eleven until I was almost sixteen, I lived in the pain believing that I deserved it.After one extreme blow-up with my dad and stepmother, they took me to a counselor. They were concerned that I was depressed, my grades dropped and I had no friends.After two months of weekly counseling, I turned sixteen. It was an un-happy birthday. There was an extreme fight. My stepmom took off. Dad slammed the door to his room after telling me my birthday party was cancelled (a half an hour before it was due to start.) I didn’t cancel it and fake-smiled my way through the room of family and the few neighborhood friends that came.The next day I had my regular appointment with the counselor. After he asked me how life was going, I bawled my eyes as I poured out my heart. After I cleaned my face, he looked at me and informed me that since I was sixteen, legally I did not have to live at home as long as I had a safe place to go.After dinner I got a call from my godmother, Judy, wishing me a happy belated birthday. I felt like Cinderella in that garden and told her everything. Judy told me that I could come live with her for two weeks. After she had a long talk with my dad, I left the next day.After the two weeks, I entered the foster care system because she could not afford to keep caring for me. There was no way I was going back to my dad’s house. Due to the process, I had to temporarily live in group homes and smaller foster homes. Judy became my foster mother to help receive money to raise me.When I left her house to get married, we kept in touch. Our ‘adopted’ family kept the Sunday night dinner tradition for several years, rotating hosting duties.The day our daughter was born, a fairy godmother became a fairy grandmother.When Judy was disabled with a bad hip, the relationship between her and my daughter deepened. I got pregnant a second time and was unable to help Judy as much as I wanted to do.Judy died suddenly when my daughters were 2 ½ years old and 5 months. All the pain of losing my mom, my grandmothers and now her, came back tenfold. My daughters lost the grandma they knew. I lost the mother I knew all my life.I break out of the memories to my daughter staring at me again waiting for the end of the story.Hugging and kissing her tight, I am thankful I had one parent figure for as long as I did who loved me no matter what. Because of that gift, it is how I parent and love my miracle daughters every day.Do you have a special person? If not-all you have to do is ask. They are there.
Dear Mom and Dad,
"Life doesn't always go as planned, and there's 'grown up' things that I won't understand." This is what you tell me when you just don't feel like explaining. But when I'm the one explaining I don't have a choice. You've been there before though right? You've been through everything,. Every single thing that I've been through? When you were my age the problems were as different as the fashions and I guess that's hard to grasp. Every once in a while I need a little space too. A
place to call my own that you won't rifle through. A place where I feel safe to be myself, a place where it's okay to just let go. I love you both with all my heart and I know that you love me too but sometimes protecting someone goes a step too far: at times it's suffocating. I know you think it's what's best for me but I need to make my own mistakes to learn the way to be, sometimes I don't want to listen to your advice on your mistakes. I want them to belong to me. Sometimes the things that happen in life are beyond us; sometimes they're things we can't control. Some- Sometimes your life is hard too. You always let times me know when things are falling apart,
but sometimes I can't fix them for you. Sometimes I can't handle your problems and mine, sometimes I just want to be a kid.
Things happen in my life that I'd love to tell you, but can't because it might scare you or make you angry. I want to talk to you, but there's this wall. My friends and I have been through things you'd never imagine, and will never know about because of our wall. I wish we could break
cause through. I guess all I really mean is that sometimes I need to have the room to grow.
I'm still you're little girl, just not the one you used to know.
Media is a good reflection of culture and while the dysfunctional family life of The Simpson's once seemed to be shocking now almost seems almost like an unrealistic depiction of family. Many teens would see the Simpson family as not being dysfunctional enough.
Today's family is better depicted in the show "Modern Family". Ill be posting a review of that show later on in the month so keep your eyes open for that.
The truth is that today's youth have already redefined family as my young friend Morgan wrote about in my last post: (http://proyouthworker.blogspot.com/2010/09/to-this-teen-family-is.html). Of course many would argue that all adolescents tend to go through a period of centering their life in their peers as opposed to their families, and I would agree. However the trend that I've been noticing goes much deeper than friendship. The question to ask is why.
Perhaps it is because frequently home is a place of uncertainty and instability. There are depressing statistics about young people that have been physically or sexually abused by family members. For others their house is only a place they reside. And many as their parents are not together are split between at least two houses. This is so common I don't assume that young people have parents but instead I will simply ask who lives in their house with them. There are some students that show more life maturity than their own parents. I might go so far to say that the teens often parent their parents.
Because of the lack of security young people get emotionally dependent on their friends, however as normal teen drama enters into the relationships they don't have a home to return to for acceptance and strength. I also have found graduates weeping and broken in the hallways feeling that leaving highschool is the splitting of their family.
So we see that friends may help compensate for a shaky family life they cannot replace it. Time and time again I have listened to young people explain why they aren't friends with whom they were best friends the previous day. They usually say something about having trust issues.
So young people are told about finding a spiritual family. However for those that are used to being abandoned wounded and not accepted see the faults of our churches much better than we do. The arguing, the unwillingness to change and the judgmental attitudes are way more apparent than the grace, hope and love that we day were about.
Another common issue is the segregation of age groups so that youth have little to no contact with the rest of the congregation. The thing about family is it is not segregated. So why is the church? Of course the youth learn to relate their lives to a youth pastor. The average life span of a youth worker in a church is a year in my city. If these youth workers don't leave the student are told that they must transition out of the group that has given them the security and into a "Comunity" where they have no sense of belonging. Again losing their sense of family.
So rather than worry about defining family as Christians why don't we start by just being family for those that have none.
Langley Area Director
Greater Vancouver YFC / Youth Unlimited
I love being married to April
Family is a funny thing to try and describe in words considering the unique variety that exist in society today. The dictionary defines a family as, “a social unit living together,” or “a group where the adults protect the offspring.” To me the dictionary is missing a lot of the dynamics of a family.
The fifties gave us the picture perfect family, a mother, father and the two little children playing in the picket fenced yard. I don’t know a single family with a picket fence nowadays though so where does that leave us?
The unfortunate reality of the 21st century is that the divorce rate is nearly higher than the success rate of marriage. Broken homes and families are everywhere, but do you need a successful marriage to have a successful family? Do you even need a marriage to have a family?
The traditional family has the married parents and their children, but my family consists of my two best friends, my dad, my step-mum, my nana, my sister, my step-brother and a friend’s parent. An unlikely mix up of the most influential people in my life have become the support system I lean on when things are impossible to handle and they are also the people who celebrate the triumphs and joys of life with me. I look at my family and see hope. I don’t see a broken jumble of misfits, I see everything I will ever need.
A family doesn’t have to live together. A family doesn’t have to share blood. Your family is the group of people you trust with your soul, the people who never leave you alone and the people who make the sunrise beautiful and all those other corny simplicities worth while. A family is whoever you hold in your heart, alive, dead, near, far, related or not. A family is love, simple and pure.