Welcome to Sara Westbrook’s “My Voice Your Choice” with mindyourmind.ca - a Q&A for youth on life issues. Sara answers Q's from youth in a way that promotes life tools and that encourage them to make responsible choices, giving them the power to create an extraordinary life. Submit your question today! Learn more about Sara on her website and check out our interview with her here!
Q: My Dad choice alcohol over us. I really miss him and want to see him but I can't because he lives so far away. What can I do?
A: It is very upsetting and frustrating when someone makes a choice that we don't agree with.
My Dad also made choices that I didn't like or agree with. He made a decision to leave without saying goodbye and without talking to me about why he was leaving.
Unfortunately, I allowed the pain I felt from his choice, to eat away at me and my happiness.
I began thinking that his leaving meant that I was unlovable and unacceptable as a person. I thought if he really cared about me he wouldn't have made the choice to leave without communicating what was going on.
After awhile I began to realize that neither my Dad’s choices nor the choices of others were in my control. I started to realize that I was a great person, that there was nothing wrong with me. We can’t make anyone do or be how we think that they SHOULD be. As much as we may see their 'potential' - if they don't see it - then that potential becomes wasted.
A few years after my Dad had moved out, I had the opportunity to ask him why he left without saying anything. He said, 'I thought it would be easier on you.'
I didn’t agree that it was easier on me, but since I wasn’t the one that was in control of his choice(s), all I could do was accept his decision and learn from it.
Sometimes we learn from people how we want to be and sometimes we learn how we don't want to be. From my Dad I learned how much pain not communicating thoughts and feelings causes. From this pain I chose to learn to communicate openly with people.
Here are some suggestions that may make a difference for you:
*Write a letter to your Dad expressing your feelings in a way that doesn’t make him bad and wrong because that will only cause him to become defensive. Use the words 'I feel...' and talk about you and your emotions. Even if you choose not to send it, it feels great to release the thoughts and emotions. You can write it and tear it up if you want.
*Since your Dad is an alcoholic I would suggest going to Alateen. It is a support group for teenagers that are affected by someone who is an alcoholic. I started going when I was 13. At first I didn't want to go, but looking back I am so glad that my mum insisted I go. It turned out to be a place where I could openly share and listen to other people my age that were going through something similar. It helps to know you are not alone.
*Set up times where you and your Dad can have conversations over the phone. You can both share about your day, your interests etc. You can keep the conversations light and simple. I know for me this worked best for my Dad and I.
*If you feel comfortable, discuss your feelings with your mom, or someone close to you that you trust and respect. Sharing allows us to release emotions that build up inside.
I know it is painful, but you don't have to live in that pain forever. Feel it. Write it out. Share it. Choose to learn from his mistakes. Take the lessons learned, not the pain, into your future.
Know that your Dad loves you, even though you feel he has made poor choices. He just doesn't know how to love you the way that you want to be loved. Like my Dad he may believe that by leaving he is sparing you pain.
Alateen is a fellowship of young Al-Anon members, usually teenagers, whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking.
Until next time...
This has been 'my voice' but I respect that this is your life - this is 'your choice'
P.S. If you are faced with a circumstance where you need help, one of the best UPower choices you can make is to Reach Out to your parents/adults, teachers, principals, counsellors, friends or www.kidshelpphone.ca to get the support you deserve. Keep reaching out until someone listens.