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Difficult Episodes of My Life - How do I overcome them?


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Hey everyone,


I'm sad to say that the first couple of years of marriage to my husband have also been the same two years when a lot of difficult problems in my life have befallen me. I'm here mostly for advice... and commiseration could also be cool, too.


I used to think I had a very good sense of myself... but lately, I feel like I don't know myself at all. I think this is my fundamental problems right now... but let me back up and explain.


Back in 2010, I graduated teacher's college and entered a job market more flooded than I was willing to acknowledge. I was always a top student, so I thought my resume would help me navigate turgid waters, but it was still incredibly difficult. I ended up in a job at a private school that was a nightmarish experience. I can say this, now, looking back, as I am employed with a public board now, two years later. My principal was abusive towards me; she attacked my character continuously, made random appearances in my classes and I felt like an outcast at the school, which was predominantly of one religious and cultural denomination that I was not a part of. My relationship with my mother, I realized, was characterizing how I dealt with work relationships; she was always aggressive, and I was always quiet... so those dynamics played out in my work life. That same year, I witnessed my grandfather experience a stroke, as well as his mental decline thereafter. My brother -- the person to whom I've always been the closest to -- went to live several hours away for school. So... besides having my then-fiance with me, it was the most lonely time of my life.


Or so I thought, I guess. I spent the year after unemployed, which was also very lonely. My principal gave me just enough notice to send me packing -- but not enough time to apply to other boards early enough in the process, which were over-flooded. I made money tutoring and began my own tutoring "business" of sorts... raking in actually a decent amount of change. By this point, my fiance and I were married and living together; luckily, I was able to rely on him quite a lot. But my period of unemployment left me feeling like a piece of junk... like I made the worst decision choosing to go to the private school, instead of the public system... and also made me question my ability, in general.


In September of last year, I was blessed with a position at a school which I love. And then in early January, the next "hurdle" presented itself to me. My brother, who had told me four years prior that he was gay, finally decided to come out to my parents. My parents are incredibly homophobic. We knew this would be one of the most difficult situations in our lives to navigate, and so far, I guess we have come out alright... but it will NEVER be over. I think about my future children with my husband and how difficult it will be to raise them in an environment where my parents are homophobic and my brother is homosexual.


So... I continue to feel depressed. Going back to the problem I outlined earlier... I feel like I have lost sight of who I am. I used to want children, and I used to feel that I could overcome obstacles in my life. The only person who had ever made me feel differently was my mom, who is incredibly over-protective and a micro-manager. I spent much of my young life trying to break away from her and live for myself.


Now, I wonder where I am. I feel like I don't have a real family anymore. I can't talk to my parents without them bringing up my brother and how disappointed they are. For a good month, they shifted the blame on me in order to make themselves feel more capable at coping with my brother's news. Now, they're just depressed and living day by day.


The biggest plague for me is the feeling that I don't know what I want in life at all. I used to think I wanted children, but now I am afraid of having children. I used to think I would have a job and a life, but now I feel like I don't care about any of that. I suppose I am "depressed" -- but I don't really know if that's true... because I can't really identify with my feelings. I cry alone sometimes, but I don't know why... and even though it helps purge some feelings, I feel like it's pretty stupid as SELFISH to cry! It's not like I'm the only one with problems. Are they EVEN problems? I don't know.


Sometimes I think that... well, my life is no more difficult than anybody else's. This is the course of life... it's unpredictable; you make mistakes... why am I SO BAD at handling these mistakes and issues?

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First, it is not selfish to cry and be sad. If that's how you feel, then that's how you feel. Crying is a coping mechanism and if that is what you need sometimes then that is what you need. It's very sweet of you to worry about others having bigger problems, but the guilt will just make things worse.


Second, it sounds like you're going through an identity crisis. You're dealing with a lot given your current family situation and the stress with the job situation. We all have a certain vision of who we are and how we handle things. I went through something very similar a few years back where everything I believed about myself, the world, and what I could do and accomplish seemed to fall apart. I was taking on all the things that went wrong in my life and not giving myself enough credit for the good things. It made me question who I am and what I want. It sounds like you're going through the same thing.


The important thing to realize, you're not alone. Anyone who is interested in living a fulfilling life goes through this at some point, especially when faced with one event after another that contradicts what they thought was true. It's completely natural to question whether you want children right now because of the conflict in your family. Give it time to sort it out and to sort yourself out. Right now things are still intense and shocking for your parents to handle, it's been less than a year. They need time to readjust the way they have been thinking and accept things too. Even if they never accept it, you will learn how to maneuver the situation around them. If they become too hostile to you, it may be good to tell them that you know they are hurting, but it is hurtful for them to take it out on you. Or failing that, to take a bit of a break from them.


Third, from what you described it doesn't sound like you made any bad choices. Actually, it sounds like you made some pretty good choices for yourself - learning to break away from your mom, finding a job you like after being in a job you learned was all wrong. But we all make mistakes and bad choices every now and then. That's what helps us learn and grow. Learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes and more importantly grow from them.


Finally, if you find yourself continuing to feel down and overwhelmed and your crying spells become more frequent or even if you stop crying but can't seem to find energy or excitement in aspects of your life, that's a strong signal you are depressed and I would talk to a counselor. Sometimes just talking it out with someone is very cathartic.



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My relationship with my mother, I realized, was characterizing how I dealt with work relationships; she was always aggressive, and I was always quiet...


I think some of your depression stems from not being able to have a genuine relationship with your mom. I'm a little aggressive as well, but I encourage my kids to come out and say what they need to say, and that helps. If you've always been quiet, then maybe a therapist could help you open up to her about the situation with your brother.


I feel like I don't have a real family anymore. I can't talk to my parents without them bringing up my brother and how disappointed they are.


If your mom starts in about how disappointed she is about your brother, you might say "I'm worried that people will judge him too much at a time when he needs love."


I hope they come to acceptance soon. Some of it might be that your parents just aren't good at communicating. As I get older I tend to get more blunt, and a few times I've had issues with impulse control and keeping my mouth shut, but I don't mean to do purposefully. If I'm called on it, I'll usually take a softer approach. Do you think your mom would come around if you remained your brother's advocate?


I suppose I am "depressed" -- but I don't really know if that's true... because I can't really identify with my feelings. I cry alone sometimes, but I don't know why...

It does sound like depression, which is understandable given how disappointing the last two years has been.


I went through something similar in 2009, when I lost my business to the recession. It's been a series of ups and downs since then, with me having the job of my dreams, then being laid off a year later, to finding another suitable job, then being laid off six months later. I've also walked off the job once, when it became unbearable after just five days.


I finally found a job last week, at a garden centre. I have no idea what the pay is, I don't even have a title! But they talked about supervision, training and even asked if I'd ever thought about being a buyer, so I hope this is something that'll turn out long term.

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