Tag Archives: shame

Immigrant blues

Global Counselor,

 I am 15 years old. My parents are new immigrants and are now learning English. I speak good English because I learn from my friends. I learn a lot of things from my Canadian friends and that helps me to feel more confident and to know how to go about my life here is this new country. We have been here for two years now. I have a brother and a sister. They are only 7 and 5 years old. My mom said that after they got me they did not want to get another child in  Afghanistan because they were waiting to leave for another country. Anyways my problem is that my parents do not want me to have a life, my life is to take care of my brother and sister all the time. All my friends can go shopping at the mall, or for an ice cream or something but not me. My parents say I have to look after my brother and sister.  One of my friends tells me that I could tell Child and Family Services and they will take me out of the house and put me to live with other family where I will get more freedom. I love my family and they are good to me but they say it is my duty to take care of my brother and sister.  They also said that girls should not be out walking and having fun because it is not how girls behave in our culture.  We get into fights all the time and I am tired. One day I lied to my mom. I told her I had to join a program to learn better English and in the meantime, I went with my friends. They found out what I was doing and beat me. I could not leave the house for two weeks. I am still mad with my parents. If they give me some free time I would not have to lie. How can I get my parents to give me some free time to have fun with my friends?

Mad

 

Dear Mad,

Have patience with your parents. They are new to the country and are still trying to hold on to their culture.  Maybe that is how girls are treated in Afghanistan and maybe it the duty of older siblings to take care of the younger ones. In many parts of the world people cannot afford to pay babysitters so they depend on family members and older siblings to help out. Your parents are still adjusting to how different it is in Canadabut they will learn in time. I know it is frustrating for you because you want to have fun now.

   It might be helpful to speak to someone who has lived in Canada for a longer time and ask them to speak to your parents.  Having you look after your siblings all the time could be interpreted by Family Services as a kind of abuse.  Speak to someone from your cultural group or from a service providing agency to tell your parents that is normal for girls to go out.  Keep having conversations with your parents, help them to trust you and to see that you are responsible and will not do anything foolish.  Do what you say you are going to do, return home at the time you say and do invite your friends over.  When they know your friends, they might be more willing to allow you to go out for a walk or to a movie with them.  I am glad you did not listen to those friends who tried to tell you go and live with foster parents or in a group home. Being home with your parents is the best place for you to be, unless your parents are extremely abusive people and risk hurting you, I suggest you remain at home and be a little understanding. Use your knowledge of English to help them understand Canadian culture and what is good about it.  Finally you have to earn your parents’ trust by being truthful, listen to what they say, keep their curfew i.e. come home when you say you will and let them know where you are going. Things will change in time, I promise you that.

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I live in a hellish relationship

Dear globalcounselor,

I am 50 years old with grown children and I live with a husband who still abuses me. My husband likes a present our family as intact and he being in control of this thing call family. Behind closed doors he screams at me and when I scream back at him he pushes me around, slaps me in my face and calls me all kinds of name. I am a professional woman too but because I do not have a PhD like he does, he thinks I am less than him and that I should be so grateful to have him as my husband. He is a bully and I hate him. Sometimes I feel like boiling a pot of water and throw it over him when he is asleep.  My children are aware that things are not right at home and they stay away as much as they can spending time with their friends or going to the gym. I am fearful that I am not being a good role model for my daughters. I would not want them living the way I live.  I am thinking seriously of leaving my husband of 30 years. I know my Nigerian community will reject me because they feel a woman should always remain with her husband and pray to God but God is telling me it’s time to leave this junky man I married. He is heartless and cruel and does not have any love in his heart. I am tire and I am too old to live like this. What do you think globalcounselor, would it be so terrible if I leave, am I being unreasonable, a bad wife and mother. What should I do?

Ashamed

Dear Ashamed,

You need to get out of this relationship. After 30 years, you need a break.  No women should remain in an abusive relationship. Abuse is about controlling a woman. You are an abused woman living in a violent relationship with an intimate partner and sometimes the only way to find peace and a life free of this violence is to leave.

A man who abuses his wife has not self-esteem. He is a man who feels that he is not getting enough respect outside the home so to make up for that he becomes a tyrant in the home and asserts his power over his wife and children. When the children are old enough and he can no longer abuse them, he still has the wife to make her life a hell.

Wife abuse is damaging to a woman, physically, spiritually and emotionally.  Many feel they deserve the abuse or they cannot do better than what they have with this man, or they tell themselves they cannot leave because of the children, or that he will change. They make up these stories to justify them remaining in the situation.  It is the shame they feel that force them to make up stories until they cannot make up anymore and then the remorse and sadness sets in, which then expresses itself as anger mostly at oneself.  Do not return abuse with abuse.  You said you are a professional woman, develop a protection plan for yourself before you make a move. Tell a trusted friend, seek help from a counsellor, make sure you have money and a place to go when you leave. Plan your escape well. You can also get the police involved to keep you safe in case he comes looking for you. No one has a right to hit you or make you feel less than. Take back your power. Good luck.

I hate myself

Dear globalcounselor,

I am 15 years old and weighs about 200 pounds. I hate myself. I wish I could be thin but I cannot stop eating the things that make me fat. My mom is on my case all the time. I think she is ashamed of me too because she is so nice and thin and here is her daughter like a fat pig.  I have gone on a few diets but I can resist junk food. I love to eat donuts, I love to eat french friends and chips and sweet things. I know these things are not good for me but I don’t know how to stop.  I do not have a lot of friends.  I have a few good friends but sometimes when they are mad they call other people fat pig in front of me forgetting that hey, you have a fat friend too. My self-esteem is at its lowest. I want to lose weight and be like a normal teenager and have normal dates and feel good about myself because I have a lot going for me, I am smart, I am funny and I have a good heart.

Fatpig,

Dear Goodheart,

Calling yourself names like fatpig will not help your self-esteem. Regardless of your weight you sound like a great person. Losing weight should be a priority for you because it will save your life. I am not a dietitian but what people always tell you is to start keeping a diary of what goes into your mouth and what’s going on for you at the time you are eating.  You might be an emotional eater.  My advice is to simply cut out the junk food, get help if you need from your school dietitian if you have one, or have your school counselor refer you to one, engage is some form of exercise that you like – walking, skipping, basketball, yard work whatever’s your fancy, and eat three square meals a day.  You will see a difference. There is no magic wand anyone can wave over you to lose weight.  It’s simple maths, you have to use more calories than you ingest.

You can do this by exercising more or cutting down on your caloric intake. I find that once I have to start writing down what I eat, I eat less because I am lazy to write and that helps me to keep my weight in check.

And no matter how you look, love yourself, be your own best friend. If you do not love yourself, do not expect others to love you either. When you love yourself, it shows and others take the cue from you. Our worth does not come in weight, it comes from what’s inside.

Good luck.

Wife Abuse

Dear globalcounselor,

I am at the lowest point in my life. I live the life of a dog, my husband’s dog. We have been married for 26 years and he still beats me.  I am so ashamed. I feel so bad sometimes I feel like just disappearing from the face of the earth but my faith in God prevents me. I don’t want to burn in hell forever. My husand is a big shot and I have a good life materially. I can’t survive on my own. I have always been a stay at home wife. My husband never wanted me to work. I knew he loved me at first but after the first ten years the love died and he has never been the same. We go out together and I have to put on a brave face. I have to play the part of the happy, contented wife. I get through these event in a blur all packed up with anti depressants. I live on the stuff. Sometimes I think I am addicted but I am not sure. 

I have no children just one sister who is younger than me. We get along fine. When I try to share my problems with her she brushes it off by saying I have it too good. How can I tell my sister that I am an abused woman, that the brother-in-law she respects is just a plain old abuser. How can I get out of this nightmare globalcounselor.  Tell me what to do.

Desperate.

Dear Desperate:

You need to get out of that house immediately and find yourself a good lawyer and a counselor. It is unhealthy  to live in such an abusive situation. You also need to get yourself to the nearest AA program. You are addicted to antidepressants. You are not living my dear, you are merely existing. Tht’s not good enough for you. Take what is left of your life and live, even if you have to live in poverty, it will be 100 per cent better than living in  a gilded cage. There are laws in this country to protect women like you and after 26 years of marriage there must be a good chunk of change  coming to do  should you decide on a divorce.  A wife is entitled to 50 per cent of the family assets.  Do not put this off for another day, take charge of your life today and start living.  Good luck.