Growing up in an unstable home puts us at a disadvantage of our peers. We’re faced with obstacles at a young age that the typical child doesn’t have to endure and that in itself can make us less optimistic about our future. You go to school stressed out and go home with even more stress and stress can build up until there’s physical consequences of not having a safe haven and a chance to release all the feelings you are experiencing.
Between the suicidal threats and dangerous black outs my mom had when she drank or the irrational violent outbursts my dad had because of his drug use, I feared going home. It wasn’t every day that something bad would happen but part of the fear was not knowing, and I suppose that’s the exact definition of an unstable home.
Regardless, I was able to put myself through school, start a career, manage money, have healthy relationships, and feel at peace with myself. It’s about having a balance in your life and maintaining that balance so that you can mentally feel sound in your day to day life.
Here are some things that got me through the toughest times during my parents struggle with addiction.
Finding the Right Definition of Love: No matter how you are raised, you’ll have a different definition of love. Our parents are humans and they have learned how to love in different ways and we’ll have to learn how to accept love in our own ways. Sometimes love is felt but never talked about and sometimes the people who love us most hurt us. If you don’t learn how to feel and accept love, you’ll find it hard to love yourself. There’s a phrase that we hear often, that you must love yourself in order to be loved. It’s true, but when you grow up without a definition of love from your family, you are lost from the very beginning and it’s even harder to find a way to self love. For me, I knew that my parents would kill themselves to protect me. From all the sacrificed they had already made to make sure I was raised properly, no matter how often I came home to threats, violence, and fear I knew what there love meant. It’s inherent to love our parents and the people who raise us, so you’ll have to work hard at finding a way to accept the way they love you back. Accept it, embrace it, talk about it, and own it. Know that the people who raised you love you no matter what they say or do.
Express yourself: I expressed myself through writing, music, and looking up quotes online. It got me through the toughest days. The only way to truly express your individual self is to be alone. Being alone seems like the scariest thing when you are dealing with the deepest feelings of depression. When you’re around a friend or two sometimes it masks the feelings of depression but as soon as you’re alone they come rushing back. I found that when I was alone writing out how I truly felt I was able to formulate my story, accept who I was, and find my own way to release all my emotions.
Remember your story: Remind yourself what you’re going through and what lessons you are learning. Remind yourself that you can make it through whatever you are going through, because you can as long as you believe it. Making a story out of what your going through isn’t harmful if you tell it as a voyage and not as a tragedy. What’s your final page look like? Are you going to be the underdog that rises above, or the central character whose diversity leads to their own demise.
Stop looking for an easy way out: It has to be harshly said because your closest friends wont tell you and your probably not telling the people who will actually step in. The feeling of drinking alcohol that you enjoyed so much is not your way of easing into social situations because your awkward. It’s actually your excuse to not accept yourself. You’re taking liquid courage in order to be like everyone else and you’re not like anyone else. You’re going through real life things that make you different and you have to stop acting like that’s a bad thing. Escaping yourself through any substance is literally you giving up. Your giving up on the authentic person you’re meant to be. Drinking and doing drugs is the equivalent of admitting your responsibilities. Yes you are young and most kids don’t have the responsibilities you do but your also not weak because of that you are strong. So stop making yourself weak by escaping and taking an easy way out. Stop making excuses and deal with the fear, anxiety, and depression you’re feeling.
Make Your Own Fate: No matter what you read from me, your told from your parents and your teachers, or what you hear from your role models you’re not going to get on the right track unless you really make the decision that you aren’t accepting anything but success from yourself. You’ve got to feel it within and do it for yourself. You’ll know the feeling too. If you don’t feel it and aren’t striving to feel it (which takes hard work and concentration) then you’re just not ready. So ask yourself- are you ready? Are you ready to take full responsibility for your emotions, your decisions, and the life that you were born into. Are you ready to stop allowing all the excuses to pile up? If you’re not ready now, you’ll realize it in 15 years but right now as much as you think your slate isn’t clean, it is. You have every reason to make your fate in your favor.
If you’re ready to make the changes in your life necessary you’ll also need to smarten up about your day to day life. Once you’ve decided that you’re a warrior and going to make it through any obstacle, this will be the easy part. In unstable environments we are easy to adapt to new environments and to thrive in low conditions. Put us anywhere and we’ll survive. Work at these steps below and see yourself shine even brighter.
Treat others with respect: Some people may have it easier than you do but that doesn’t make you any better than that person. Treat everyone as if they are going through something as bad as you. They don’t know your struggles and you don’t know theres. If you’re assuming there life is easier than yours your giving yourself an excuse to feel an advantage or disadvantage towards them and that just doesn’t work for your sanity.
Accept your faults: Because of what I’ve grown up with I’d say I’m a very paranoid person. I mean, my dad wouldn’t even talk to me if there were windows or heaters in a room because he thought someone was listening. From someone that taught me that loyalty is everything, it’s definitely a reoccurring theme that I get paranoid about the silliest of things, and I value loyalty way more than the norm. It’s taken a while to accept that, but once I did I was able to understand myself better and I’m able to express myself better. Being honest about your faults will make you more likable as opposed to trying to hide your insecurities, fears, and faults.
Try hard at school: I don’t care how much you think your teachers don’t understand you and that all the students are privileged and that the idea of going to a place for 8 hours a day while your not sure if your family is dying sounds incredibly stupid. Your teachers have chosen that career because they do care so utilize there knowledge and passion so that you can succeed. There are misconceptions of the real world when you’re in school. The truth is, there’s more drama outside of school than there is in school so if you don’t find a way to handle situations and learn in school, it’ll only get worse once you’re out. The only difference is the drama in school doesn’t matter and the drama in the ‘real world’ can cost you your job.
React wisely to friends and classmates: Choose your friends wisely. But how? If you’ve been influenced to do something that you know is wrong or talk bad about people who have never harmed you in any way you know in your heart they aren’t the right people to hang out around. Be honest with who you are. Stop telling yourself that you have a true friend because they make you feel good in that moment. A true friend will encourage you to accomplish your goals and want to keep you on track. They won’t distract you from the big goal. And as for classmates. People can be mean but here’s a quote to live by. How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
Find your Ambition: There’s something that will motivate you within to keep going. Find it and remember it every single day. Write it down. For me it was my dad. The love we share is indescribable and my life will always be to speak on behalf of addiction and the true strength it takes to live with it. It’s also on behalf of children of addiction. Even if I end up in a job or career that has nothing to do with this or even if I lose absolutely everything and everyone no one will take away my story and this ambition. Everyone born in instability has an ambition they are born with.
Turns out instability is a blessing in disguise. We’re born with a much greater ability to make it through struggle because we’ve been fighting since a young age. We have anger and sadness that some people don’t experience till much later in their lives. It’s not easy to deal with but if you decide you will deal with it face on, you’ll end up stable. The base of your ‘chair’ is your struggle and the four legs that hold you up is your courage, ambition, resilience, and drive.