Dear Perception Anxiety
I am 22 so I think of myself as an adult but in many ways I still feel like I am a child. The problem is that life doesn’t feel cosy and warm any more.
When I was a little girl I knew my mum and dad would make everything all right but two years ago they got divorced and I saw them yelling at each other, I saw mum crying and my dad walking out. We didn’t see him for a month.
I wasn’t ready to see them like that and now I’m scared that I’m just not ready to be an adult.
‘And they DIDN’T live happily ever after!’
’That was just a fairy-tale, dummy!’
Feeling lost 🙁
Dear Martha 🙂
This is one of life’s hardest lessons to learn. Because you are right the whole walking off into the sunset holding hands thing is a myth. As a belief we come across it first in fairy stories and then it’s reinforced by Hollywood.
And when that realisation hits you, that life doesn’t stop at some blissful stage to be lived in happiness for ever and ever, it’s scary. Understanding that all things come to an end including ourselves is like being centre-stage in your very own horror movie!
But Martha, here’s the thing, you are only 22! You left official childhood just 4 years ago and you have a long long way to go, so it is completely normal for you to feel the way you do. And to be honest, I am not sure that we ever really feel grown up. I am 52 and still waiting lol.
Seeing your parents at their worst will have been a shock but over time you will see them more and more as just people. Sure, they are people that are special to you but that’s just it; they are special to YOU! But they weren’t born on Krypton. They are super parents, not Superparents!
When you were a little girl they did their job and made everything all right for you but now you are a young adult they will start to live their lives more for themselves and their flaws will become more obvious.
Although, understandably, this feels a little unsafe to you right now, you will eventually see it as a good thing because it will give you permission to live your life. A life that is not tied to your parents or anyone else that you do not wish to be tied to.
So Martha, here’s what I suggest you think about…
1. If you are missing that cosy feeling that you mentioned then what else will give this to you? No, it won’t be the same as believing that we will all live happily ever after, but there are plenty of other things in life that make us feel good. What makes you feel good? How can you create more of it in your life?
2. Start to see your parents as friends. They will carry a certain amount of guilt for appearing to ‘behave badly’ and will be eager to participate in this new stage of your relationship with them. You don’t need them to make EVERYTHING all right for you any more because YOU are learning to do that for yourself. But they can still make some things all right by being there for you and offering the benefit of their own life experiences.
3. You say that you are feeling lost so it sounds like you are looking for a sense of direction. There are so many ways you could get this. I suggest you brainstorm your life. Write ‘My Life’ in the middle of a sheet of paper and then write everything that springs to mind. Don’t censor yourself…write it all down and see what you come up with.
You can categorise what you have written into positives and negatives, social life, work, family and friends etc. Then see what you feel drawn to and work on it. Whatever it is, it should fill you with enthusiasm because we put most effort into the things we love doing.
Don’t be hard on yourself Martha. You are young and you will adjust to adulthood. Find something that truly matters to you and focus your attentions on it.
Try to live your life well each day so that you have less appetite for looking back to past events or looking too far into the future.
It is in the enjoyment of every ‘today’ that we take care of all our yesterdays and tomorrows! Think about it. When you have a bad day it becomes a bad memory and creates uncertainty in our future.
So focusing on what we can do to make every today as good as possible will improve that immensely. No, of course we cannot avoid bad days completely, that’s just part of life. But what we can do is react to them in ways that reinforce our belief in ourselves!
Being with like-minded young women will also make a big difference. It will help you to see that you are not alone with your thoughts and feelings and give you the chance to find out what others do to make life better.