Dear Miss Emily:

Hi there.  I am 18 years old and terrified of the life I am living.  I have nothing.  Everything that has happened in my life, so far, I have managed to mess up in one way or another.  Most kids my age stay at home with their mothers, go out on weekends and are studying something they desire.  All I have done so far, is study what the hell has happened to me and what I can do to fix it.  All I have ever wanted is love. I never had a dad in my life, and somehow having a loving man in my life is very important to me. Nearly two years ago, I made a few bad choices.  I drank, smoked and took drugs. I have never done anything I regret as much as that, so I stopped it all, instantly, when I saw the people around me and realized what I would become. Just then, I moved back home, got a new job, and a new man. At the beginning of that relationship, it was brilliant.  He was perfect and on a whim we moved in together, and I put the past behind me.  I did not know at the time he was keeping things from me such as debt, bills, etc., and in my mind we were both happy and carefree.  This ended when I found an eviction letter and we moved into a shared flat with some of his mates. One by one, they all left and we were there to pick up the pieces of the mess we had been left with. During this time of financial struggle, I realized he had started taking drugs and I, too, started to fall into that narrow path, but I snapped out of it.  He, however, said it was fine and he could do what he wanted.  He started to get violent with me and my friends. We beat each other, and I tried to leave but somehow he had such a hold over me I couldn’t.  I know how silly that sounds but, when in that circumstance, you start to feel worthless, lonely and scared.  I stood my ground one day, packed my stuff and was ready to leave.  We had exchanged keys with the landlord, and I was on my way back to my mum's.  I looked at him and realized he had nowhere to go, and we talked for hours till we made up. We both moved into my mums flat. It is cramped, very stressful and a great inconvenience for my mum.  But I love my boyfriend and want to be with him.  However, we are broke, he still takes drugs and  wont change.  For a while there, we were happy again, but now he’s gotten so selfish and acts like he hates me.  He forgets I’m doing him a favor.  I am so stressed out.  I am making myself sick with worry.  I can’t sleep and am so busy trying to keep everyone happy, I don’t even know what I want anymore.  I am so tired of this crap and so emotionally drained.  We are supposed to be finding a place together, and my whole family have put so much time and money into buying us things so we can start again. However, I don’t want to get myself tied into something that isn’t real. If he really meant what he was saying, he wouldn’t let me down. He would stop the drugs and do some work and stop relying on me and my family to get him settled.  He makes all these promises of how he will change, but I don’t trust him anymore.  He’s put me through so much that I don’t know what to believe. Am I making a huge mistake with him, or should I go with my heart and give him a chance to prove me wrong?
A Rock And A Hard Place

----------------------Miss Emily’s advice-----------------

Dear Rock:

My opinion?  This plan is doomed to fail.  I know the type of guy you are talking about.  He’s emotionally weak and helpless.  He’s got a good heart, in many ways, but he has no faith in himself and needs others to get him through life.  His anger erupts when he gets flashes of false pride, and then he tries to pretend that he’s a player in life – that his opinion matters, no matter how broke he is, and no matter who has helped him save his butt.  He becomes repentant when he’s close to losing his support system, and his survival instinct kicks in and he acts as if the new plan is all he needs to fix all that’s wrong, despite his delusional attitude about his drug habit.  But drugs, at least now, are his mistress, and she comes first.  I get your need to be loved.  Who among us can say we don’t need it?  Caring for others, and being cared for validates who we are.  Those who live without love either tried and failed to create lasting bonds (for whatever reasons) or are human defects incapable of giving or receiving love.  But you are young, and neither is the case for you.  I know you love this guy and, in some ways, you feel as if you are kindred spirits.  He understands you, and vice versa. But it isn’t enough for you and you know it.  There is no magic wand to make things right with him.  You are wrong if you say you have nothing.  You are smart.  And I can tell by your letter that you are, for the most part, a rational person who wants a good life.  You should never really compare your life to others because, you may not know this, but there is someone out there who thinks your life is pretty good.  You have a mom and family willing to help you, and who wish for you to be content with your life.  I would use the word happy but that is often a fleeting emotion and no one is happy all of the time.  But you know, like your boyfriend, no one can live your life for you.  Some people are lucky enough to have a leg-up in this world because of wealth and position, but that was never the case for me, and I know it isn’t the case for you.  If I were you, I’d realize that it’s time to stop repeating the things you know will always lead you back to the beginning.  No one can fix the past, but the future holds promise if you are willing to take the time to seek out what it is that makes you feel alive, and then pursue it with every fiber of your being.  It’s an attitude adjustment – one that tells you nothing can hold you back if you put your mind to it.  And that’s really what you need to do. Rent the movie Crimes and Misdemeanors, by Woody Allen.  Beside the murder sequence, there is a realistic story about life and love. In it, there is a professor who talks about how often people choose, in their adult lives, friends similar to those who caused us emotional conflict as a child, yet we expect these friends to fix past damage.  It's time to re-invent yourself.  Keep the essence of the fine, decent person you are, but create a new life by becoming the person you want to be and focus on a real career.  It’s there if you want it.  You just have to want it more than anything else in the world.