PREVIOUS LETTER ||
NEXT LETTER >
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have gotten myself into a truly terrible situation. My parents and I don't
exactly see eye to eye on a few rather important (to me at least) issues; like
getting a driver's license, and doing something with my life besides being a
housewife. Not that there's anything wrong with being one, if that's what you
want. But, I wanted more and started going to summer school when I was 14 so
that I could graduate high school at 16 and leave my parents.
I live in a fairly rural area, and since my parents don't believe in women
doing things outside of the house, I couldn't go to anything better than a local
college. I did the fast food/odd jobs to help augment what little I had left
over from my scholarship. I was never able to save up enough to take a private
driver's ed class (required for first time drivers where I live), since it costs
about $300. I'd also have to rent a car to take the test.
When I was 17, I met a guy who I thought was really great. He gave me rides
to work, helped me out with tuition money when I needed it, and always tried
to find a way not to let me starve without making it seem like charity. Great
guy, right? I had a nervous breakdown from all the stress of trying to do everything
myself with no support from my parents when I was 19. At that point, I was willing
to let "Mike" take control of my life, as I didn't really have any one else
to turn to and couldn't cope with it myself. Well, about a year ago, my apartment
got a new manager and rent went up to something I couldn't pay. He offered to
let me have the second bedroom in his apartment and we would split rent/utilities.
Now, at almost 21, I'm ready to take my life back, but he won't let me. I
still have no license, and now no job. He says I am "too good" to work at any
of the places in town, and refuses to take me there. And since we have no buses
or taxis, I'm stuck here, wondering how I managed to mess my life up this badly.
It really scares me, because I get upset and cry constantly, which is a lot
like how I was when I was 19. I'm beginning to hate myself because I can't deal
with the frustration of having so little control of my life. I would love nothing
more than to drive away and change my life...but I can't.
Any suggestions? The whole license thing frustrates me to no end, as it makes
me feel like I'm a three-year-old who can't do one damn thing for herself, and
has to get someone to hold her hand to cross the street! Help!
Yes, indeedy, that license is both symbol of and actual
key to your independence. But first, the guy. Some
of the things you say about him set off the kind of alarms that, unlike car
alarms, BG cannot ignore. You're "too good" to work? He "won't
let you" take your life back? Hrm. It could be that he's tired of
being "helpful" -- and you're understandably tired of...everything
-- and he's been handy for so long that you're stumbling without that long-had
leg up. Or it could be that he's got you -- for whatever reason -- right
where he wants you: stuck and dependent on him, even for the nothing he's giving
you. That, Keri, is where a relationship lurches over from the bumpy lane into
downright scary. Please, oh please, read this
column to see which side of the yellow line you feel you're on. Plus, if
you think about it -- which you should -- he (as our own Belleruth
points out) is not all that different from your parents. The freedom he used
to represent for you may just have been a new face on familiar.
So whether for your independence and self-esteem -- or
for your very safety -- you've got to find a way to put some distance between
yourself and his control. With or without him, yes, you've got to get that
license. Don't let the feelings of powerlessness short out your resourcefulness.
Borrow from a friend. Crash with someone closer to town. Ask at the church.
Something. People who want something from you are not the only ones who
will help; some will do it just because -- and yes, without making it feel like
"charity." Think. Plan. You have...time. And you've done it before,
at an age when, arguably, it was even harder. You can now. Consider teeny
steps -- even one will give you momentum for the next. And as Belleruth says,
"Having to start over is terrifying, but it isn't the worst thing in the
world; it's surely not as bad as being trapped." First, find a way to put
the auto in "autonomy," and you'll be on your way.
Belleruth and BG
P.S. Remember, if something about distancing yourself from
him makes you frightened, please click here
"How do I turn a first date into a second one?"