Lost at 25

Postby losthillary » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:09 pm

Hello to all,

I'm new to this site but enjoyed the few posts I read and the feedback seems legitimately helpful. So here it goes.

I'm 25 and have recently found myself struggling with my life. There are a few things that contribute to this as follows. I have always had extremely low self esteem and have struggled with bouts of depression but for the past six months or so, I've been feeling lost and empty. Being the oldest child in my family, I feel like I have always taken care of everyone else.

Religion was very strong in my youth. I was definitely taught near everything I did was a sin or defied my parents and God. (ex: I couldn't shave my legs until I was 12 because I was told I was doing it for the wrong reasons etc. etc. when really I just wanted to stop getting bullied in school). I became very aware of myself around 11 or 12 and my perception of myself was very poor. I always wanted to fit in and have 'everyone like me' and I know this is a childish mindset to hold onto. I was bullied and pushed around a lot through middle school and high school, struggles with body image and the works. My parents were poor while I was growing up and peers noticed that as well. It wasn't until I was around 18 and 19, I started feeling like an attractive person and 'coming into my own'. But I struggled with this mentality as I've been taught, when I was younger, that confidence was similar to vanity and vanity was a sin. Also at 19, I got into dieting and exercise, which transformed my figure. I had never been 'proud' of my figure before. About five years later, I'm still in this regime and have continued to struggle with my image and exactly what it means to be secure with myself without coming across as vain and the religious aspects that have been ingrained into me.

My parents eventually left the strict church they were involved with and backed off the 'everything is a sin' train. They started new jobs making 'good money'. But church and youth group and God in general was very much present in my teen years still.

My relationship with my parents, mainly my father, has been pretty awful since I was 18. I guess I hit the rebel stage a little late and 18 specifically was a hard year for me. But in the process, it destroyed the rather good relationship I had with my Dad. I straightened out and have 'been on my own' since then. But I'll jump to a recent conversation I had with my father, right before Christmas. My Dad told me it's hard for him to have a relationship with me because I'm not an active Christian, I smoke cigarettes (save the remarks, I'm attempting quitting for the millionth time), and I don't have a college degree.

What's harder to watch is the relationship he has with my sisters who are 16 and 18. I feel like my parents, having me in their teens, spent most of my childhood getting their sh** together and I was always so scared of asking even for lunch money because we were that poor. There were hobbies and sports I wanted to do in school that either my parents told me I wasn't good enough to do or the time was never right because of my younger siblings. My own fears of failing miserably and wasting my parents time and money contributed to this as well.

Granted, my parents are amazing people, amazing parents. But I feel like the black sheep with them. I feel like I'll never 'make them happy'. When I bought my house with my long-term boyfriend at 22, my Dad told me I was an idiot and didn't talk to me for months. And over the past several years, this has continued to happen. I feel like we're getting close again, and then he backs off and tells me the three main things that he "struggles" with when attempting a relationship with me. We also live in separate states now since my family moved which affected me more than I thought it would. More recently, they both keep telling me how I have no future, no independence, and I need to go back to the church. (in the most loving way they can say this). Make of that nonsense what you will. I know validation is important to me, especially from my parents aka my father. But I, personally, don't think he's fair towards me at all and I struggle immensely with this dynamic.

As for me, I may not make a lot of money. I have a full time job as a caregiver. It's the one thing about myself I can say I like and enjoy. It is a gift I'm proud to have been given. I feel like I love my job so much because I'm so good at taking care of everyone else (3 younger siblings). I started working with this company right before I turned 19. People have always told me it's one thing they admire about me, yet it's still not 'good enough'. I do want to a college degree and have gotten some certifications that help with my line of work, I just haven't gotten there I suppose.

Despite my nasty smoking habit, I'm a pretty active person and a runner (yeah, crazy right?) I'm a good person! I really mean that and it's the one positive thing I can say about myself. Maybe I lost the faith I had along the way, but I'm still open minded and very much believe in something bigger than myself. I like my job, my life, but it's kind of hard when I feel like the people who I admire most tell me what's wrong with it. What's wrong with me, etc.

I've been getting so overwhelmed with life. Literally life itself. Finances and my future and where do I want to be etc. etc. and I really don't know that answer. And that doesn't seem okay at 25. Actually, one thought that pops in my head when I ask myself these questions, is if I will always be so insecure and unsure of myself and my place in this world. So I googled self help forums and here I am. I don't want to be sad and overwhelmed with my life and these expectations either I've put on myself or others have down the line.

Thank you for your time, really.
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Postby Livetowin » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:07 pm

About halfway through your post, I was able to virtually write the rest of what you had to say because I've been through all of the same weights and expectations you have been through...only add my dad was a part time Sunday School teacher and guest pastor when needed. How would you like that on your dad's mantel? If Christ sat on the right hand side of God, my dad surely felt he had the other side reserved. So I know all of the heady expectation placed upon you with the Bible used as his shield of shame.

Here's the good news. You don't have to drink from that cup of "sin" anymore. I have two rules that govern my life each and every day - 1) I only control myself and 2) I never let others define me. I'll explain shortly how I got to those two rules, but first I want to give you some additional insight into the life I grew in as a boy and a young man. Much of the shaming my father placed upon me growing up catered greatly to my low self-esteem and need to somehow "earn" his approval. If I did something well, he would give me praise. But if I found something challenging or something I simply wasn't very good at, he would layer the disappointment on me thick.

He use to have a line he fed me from the time I was roughly five or six until I was a teenager. If he got really frustrated, he would say, " I wish you were never born." Being I'm both a parent and a grandparent now it's inconceivable for me to think a parent would say that to their child with such venom, but my dad did. And my mother unfortunately was not much better than one of the kids herself in terms of standing up to my dad. She came from that era in the 30's and 40's where the man was the head and that was it.

Now as adults we can all look at that and find that action really awful to say to a child. But when you're the child, you don't have that context. You wear it. You own it. And you think if your dad is saying it, there must be a very good reason.So when my dad would holler at me and say things like that , I would go numb and feel literally like a worthless human being. I figured if my dad was saying it, then the whole world must really know it. But here's the part that did the most damage. He would calm down after a while and come back in and say, " Son I am really sorry I said that." Unfortunately he had to qualify it by adding, " But you knew you had that coming." ....?????... Ouch.

So what he did in actuality is give his conscience a pass by saying he was "sorry", but needed to make sure his thumb was still firmly pressed down on my self-esteem so I understood he was still the judge and jury That made me grow up VERY ambiguous about myself and whether I did anything good. And that includes times when i won trophies for football or even awards for good grades. I always doubted myself because somewhere in my mind I kept thinking, " What if they don't mean it?" So what I would find out much later in life is that it wasn't a standard I couldn't reach, but rather an insecurity my father was covering up. And I paid the price for it.

So how did I overcome it? Well I was VERY fortunate to have good friends with healthy families whose parents never talked to them like that. This was my first clue I was not in a ideal setting at home. The other part was I was extremely hardheaded about wanting to do something with myself. I played sports, applied myself in school and slowly began to see I had my own vision of myself. I've always said confidence is built from demonstrated ability. There's probably nothing more true in life. You enjoy doing something that you have a craft for? Do it.

But the other thing was my dad could just never accept me as my own person and it finally came to a head after I had moved out. I bought a condo and after about a year, this girl I had been seeing moved in with me. My parents eventually caught wind of it and even though they really liked her, they would have no association with her if she lived in the same space with me. In fact they disowned me over it. Literally disowned me. They illustrated this by saying I wasn't allowed over to house even for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I sad, "Why?" They said because to welcome my company would be to condone my life choices. Wow. The real truth was my dad didn't want to risk being seen in a light he thought others would not approve. So his image as a "devote christian" was more important than the company of his son. Tons of irony in that if you think about it for ten seconds.

So we got through those holidays but my girlfriend was understandably upset over the level of rejection they had delivered. We ended up breaking up around the Fall of the following year. I went through a lean period soon after because she had left me with bills to pay and I was just a kid barely making ends meet as it were. I paid all of my bills but it left little for me and my dog. It was not uncommon for me to go through the house looking for change. Many weeks I lived off of $7 to $10 eating out of cans of food. Here's where it gets really good. My mother FINALLY checks in on me as the holidays roll back around and I inform her my girlfriend is gone. I don't tell her I'm having a hard time. I jokingly say, " Well I guess it will be okay to have a meal with the family for Thanksgiving, right?"

To my unbelieving ears, I hear this statement - " Well, your father and I don't know if we're ready to have you back yet. Having that girl live with you was really a terrible thing to do and we're not sure if you have learned your lesson or not." I was outraged. I calmly said, " That's fine" and hung up the phone. It was at THAT moment that I curled up in one corner of the condo dining room and just let all that rejection course through me one last time. I was done. DONE!! I knew I was at a cross roads. I could either be consumed by all of this horrible shame my parents had spent my entire life draping on me in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or I could stand up, tell my father what he could do with that ghost and walk my own path in life. That was it. I was done catering to my folks. Letting them take cheap shots and wearing this ridiculous shame which they felt I "deserved".

I didn't have anything to do with them over the holidays and that was with them deciding it was "okay" for me to come over so we could "talk". I told them I didn't want to talk to them because I decided they were not okay in MY BOOK. I was 25 and I had taken all the crap I was going to take from that lot of self-righteous pricks. From that day forward I invested in how I felt about me devoid of any other comments except my own. I decided what I liked and cleaned house of any people in my life that that were not serving my interests.

Through the course of doing that I discovered a greater truth that I see in most everyone's lives. We subordinate accountability according to the labels we give people in our life. We often defer to others because of the title they have. Be it your dad, mom, brother, pastor, brother, girlfriend, soul mate, best friend, counselor...you name it. Because we give them such unconscious latitude to be right or less fallible than others, we tend to lose ourselves in those relationships and forget we too have a voice and a right to express our identity which should be respected by those whom we offer the same consideration.

But you know what? I can't control what others say or do. My wife could get up tomorrow and leave me. My brother could tell me he no longer cares for me. My employer can tell me they have to make cuts, so the job I thought I would always have is being eliminated. My doctor could tell me I have a terminal illness and all the plans I had made will be wiped out. All I have as an anchor on in my life is what I SAY AND DO. People can love me, hate me, deplore me, reject me, enrich me or try and steal from me. But none of that means anything if I don't first know how I feel about me.

If I have to trust the opinions of people outside of me, no matter who they are, then I'm in trouble, because my worth is only as strong as how they know me, what they chose to know about me, and how it relates with how they see themselves. So I better have a good anchor on ME.

You say you feel exhausted and tired of being an underachiever in the eyes of your father. Well quit looking at your life through the eyes of your father. He's not you. He doesn't live your life. And he doesn't have a right to judge you since he doesn't walk in your shoes. Find YOUR voice. Find the things you like to do. Ignore the critics. That Bible doesn't make your dad right or better than you. He's Linus and that Bible is his security blanket because he can't speak for himself. Let him have it. You have your whole life in front of you.

So how did I do after 25? I eventually made peace with my dad when he discovered if he cared about me he would have to meet me on my terms. We learned to avoid the subjects we disagreed on and talk about the issues we found common ground with. Most importantly I forgave him for the things he use to say, because I found out before he was my dad he was a person with his own demons and his own issues that came out in ways he did not always understand. In 2005 I raised a glass and celebrated my parents 50th wedding anniversary and told all of their family and friends in attendance I loved them both dearly. I got to say everything publicly I ever wanted to say with the deepest of expression. In 2007 my father unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack. I was the closest of his three sons. I lost my oldest brother in 2013 and my mother passed away in 2014. All I have left from my original family is one brother five years older than me.

I'm 53, married over 25 years, with three kids and a grand son. I thank God every day for the decision I made that fateful day when I hung up that phone with my mother. I quit carrying the weight of others as my standard and learned to love myself. I started listening to my heart, my dreams, and what I thought was right and wrong. It didn't take me away from everyone for a long period of time, but it did teach me to come back with my own identity and my own sense of dignity that I would never let anyone ever take from me again. Believe in yourself. Trust only yourself and quit worrying about what others think. You only control yourself. Go take control. I wish you all the best.
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Postby laureat » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:13 am

You should know what to expect from oneself : when you know what to expect from self you are not botherd too much why someone else believe you are not doing good, its just when you are unsure what to expect from oneself that you may easy bother why someone criticize you which is normal when you are a kid, but when you become an adult you should know what to expect from oneself

What you focus on most of the times; that is who we become,; example if someone starts to play chess game just for fun even if he is not talented but plays every day he will learn it every day better and better; and even if he doesnt become a world champion still he may find oneself a place in a chess world like a coach for beginners or whatsoever but even that takes effort you got to be searching

Who you become depends on decisions

It seems like there are some kind of disagreements between you and your parents and im unsure about that, maybe if you simply distance oneself from them may be for your own good

Work, rest, play

Working is good;; even if someone has billions of dollars he shouldnt stop working; because happiness comes out of work

Rest, relax; you are a human and sometimes you get tired so you dont always need to work sometimes you need a rest

Play, life is not cool if we never joke, celebrate, dance ,
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Postby aaronstraine » Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:01 am

I am 27 and lost.
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