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Ask A Therapist: Never Alone But Always Lonely

Q: (16 year old young woman in India) I am an intelligent girl. Always one of those A+ types. And like all geeky girls on the planet I have no friends. I do have these bunch of people I hang out with in school but we aren’t really true friends. Once when we had a talk with this career counselor our lunch period got missed. I was supposed to eat from the canteen that day. But since lunch was over the canteen got closed. And my so-called friends happily came to the place where I sit and had their lunch which they had brought from home without offering me a thing! I remained hungry throughout the day.

My parents are separated and like typical chauvinistic men my father can’t think beyond my brother. Whenever we meet he only talks about my brother and his future. My father didn’t even want me to be born!! He had tried to get my mom to abort me.

My mother has a very volatile nature. She screams and gets angry very easily and so I don’t prefer to talk to her about my feelings. Once when I had suggested that I go to a counselor she got very angry and started crying about how she had failed in bringing me up and that’s the only reason I wanted to see one. I haven’t mentioned it since then. She still treats me like I’m four. Whenever we go out she actually tells me not to spill food on my clothes. I had applied and got in with full scholarship to a summer school program in the UK. My mom didn’t let me go because she thought it wasn’t safe. I really wish to go to this school in my city which has advanced coursework and will help me go to a good college abroad but my mother knows that if I go there I will definitely get into a really good college in the UK or US. So, she refuses to send me there. She has instead sent me to this rubbish school, even though she can afford good schools, where textbooks have wrong stuff printed. She refuses to send me to hobby classes because she doesn’t like me going anywhere alone.

I am constantly criticized by my mother and grandmother. They say that I have a sickly frame and bad hair and look ugly most of the times. They can’t stop raving about my oh-so-pretty sister even though she sucks in studies. My brother bullies me and my grandmother turns a blind eye to it. He gets annoyed if I come to talk to him and uses abuses on me. He is the least bit concerned about his future and that worries me. I am not allowed to do anything in my house and I have no friends to talk to about my dreams.

A: Thank you for writing in for help.  It sounds like your friends and family don’t yet see you for the bright and wonderful young woman you are, and that they aren’t supporting you in the way that you need to feel supported. What’s remarkable is that even without a lot of support at home, you have been able to keep your dreams and aspirations for your future alive! Let’s work together to find someone who does. I am not familiar with counseling options in India but I can give you a few suggestions.

I’m so glad that you brought up seeing a counselor to your mother. Even though she made your request about her failings as a parent, I suggest that you ask her again and let her know it’s really important to you.  If she doesn’t respond to your request then I suggest you look into possible school or community resources for counseling. Does your school have a counselor that you could meet with or any kind of peer support groups? If not I suggest that you try online support groups. There are many groups in the Community.

It sounds like your mom is really scared to lose you, and that may be why she seems so protective of you. Fear is probably why she doesn’t want you to go away to school or to go somewhere unsafe. That is probably really hard for you because you are looking toward your future and wanting to continue to grow up, which means trying new things. I want to encourage you to continue to follow your educational and life dreams and do whatever you can to get a counselor to help you figure out how to make them happen.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks LCSW

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