Auntie SparkNotes: My Family Is Moving And I'm Miserable
My family is moving to across the country over the summer. I REALLY don't want to move, since it will be my junior year, and I love my school/ neighborhood etc. However, I am trying to accept it, because I don't have a choice. I am really upset at my dad (he is the one who wants to move), and I tried talking to him about staying with my grandparents (where I live now) until I finish High School. He completely shut me down, and basically ignored me until I stopped talking.
I know this could be a great opportunity for me to "reinvent" myself, since I am really shy, but honestly, the thought of moving and leave my friends/home/life here just makes me plain sad. My question is, how can I deal with this? I start crying every time I think too much about moving, and its all that my family talks about now. This whole year (I've known I was going to move since last summer) I feel like I'm struggling under this big, heavy cloud of SAD, and I really want it too stop. I have a really great best friend and I talk to her about it all the time (I'm starting to feel bad about it) but this doesn't seem to help. On top of it all, I'm so angry at my dad all the time, and I can't stop being mean to him. Any advice?
Oooooooh, Sparkler. I’m sorry, because even when you’ve done everything right, this will always be one of those Situations of Unavoidable Suck. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as long as you’re under your parents’ roof, it’s their prerogative to decide where that roof is located—and it’s one of the few parts of your life in which you don’t get a say, even when you’re old enough to deserve one. So even though you’re having a hard time accepting it, you still get serious props for having the maturity to try.
Especially when you’re being treated—wrongly—like you don’t have any maturity at all.
Because when you don’t have a choice, you still should have a voice, and your dad’s ignore-you-til-you-stop-talking approach to your unhappiness is a seriously jerky move. Being a parent gives you great power, and with great power comes great responsibility, and possibly the greatest responsibility of all is to not slap your nearly-grown-up kid in the face with how much she still has no control over a decision that seriously affects her life. (Not to mention dismissing or diminishing her totally legitimate feelings of sadness with ridiculous cliches about how it’s a great chance for “reinvention.”Blargh.)
The good news is, you’re on the right track by doing your best to make peace with the inevitable—not just because you can't change what's coming, but also because that’s the route to making peace with your dad. And if he doesn’t know that you’re working hard to be okay with moving, now is a good time to let him know, and to ask for his help in making it easier. So pick your moment, keep your cool, and offer up an in-your-own-words version of the following conversation starter:
“I understand that moving is necessary, and I’m doing my best to make peace with it—but it’s hard to handle this like an adult when I’m being treated like a child. I’m not asking you to change your mind, I’m just asking you to talk with me about why we’re moving and to listen to what I have to say, so that I can stop feeling so sad and angry and powerless.”
And then, by all means, say what you have to say... but also make sure that you listen, too. Because right now, your understanding of the impending upheaval seems to begin and end with “My dad wants to move”—and while that may be true, it also doesn’t tell you (or me) the whole story. The fact that this is your father’s decision doesn’t mean he made it lightly or easily; moving is an unmitigated hell for adults, too, and your family wouldn’t be doing this if there weren’t a really compelling reason to do so. And the more you understand what that reason is, the more you’ll be able to see the move as something you’re participating in for the good of your family, instead of something you’re being forced to do against your will.
And once you’ve done that, do this: for every hour you spend feeling sad about the move, devote at least a few minutes to finding a few things about it that don’t suck—not because it’ll replace your sadness with sunshine and smileys, but because it’ll give you some much-needed balance in the way you think of what’s coming. The opportunity to reinvent yourself may not be all that appealing, but maybe your new home will put you close to an amazing city you’ll love to explore. Or maybe your new school is full of amazing extracurricular clubs and/or really hot guys. Or maybe you’ll have access to decent pizza for the first time in your life.
Basically, it doesn’t matter what you find to look forward to, as long as you find something. Because leaving can make you sad, but it doesn’t have to destroy you—and if you’re even just a little bit psyched about where you’re going, it won’t. Promise.
Have you ever made a cross-country move? How did you deal? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: Parental Perspectives