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Decisions, decisions: what was I thinking?


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 30, 2001

I have made some stupid mistakes that may have consequences far beyond anything I ever imagined. I certainly can't change the outcome now, so trashing myself because of these mistakes will only make me feel more stupid. I would like to figure out what I was thinking when I made the decisions to screw up. The problem I have now is to figure out how I can get myself out of this mess, if there is a way out. If I feel this bad, don't they think I have learned my lesson?

I thought I was just rebelling against the system and my parents. Now things look different to me as I am reviewing the result. You see, I figured that if I just did things my way for a change, they would see that my way worked as well as theirs. All I set out to do was to prove my point. Then I screwed up, royally!

I could spend a lot of time listing all the bad decisions I've made over the past few years, but I have figured out that making this list doesn't matter in the big scheme of things. The list could read something like this: I used drugs, got way too drunk, failed classes at school, had sex or, even worse, unprotected sex. It could be that I shoplifted something, got arrested, skipped school, cheated, lied about where and with whom I hung out. Or, perhaps I stole from my parents. It could be that I have done all of these things at one time or another, and the deeds have finally caught up with me.

I never knew that I could feel this awful about me, especially when I thought I was in control of my life. I just knew I could do a better job with me than everyone else could. I got so sick of always being told what to do or when and how to do it. I felt the authority figures in my life wanted me to be their little puppet on a string. I just decided not to be their parrot anymore and reacted accordingly. How could I have been so wrong about my ability to control my own life?

As I write this note to myself, I am feeling a bit hopeless. I can't go and ask anyone for help now. I can't let anyone know what a mess I have made out of my life. My parents would never let me live this one down, and I surely don't need more condemnation heaped on me to make me feel even worse. I am incredibly stuck, and I am scared. Can I find a way out of the deep hole that I have created for myself? Is there any way I can save face and ask for help? Is there anyone in my family or in the system who would help me instead of criticizing me? If I turn to a friend, will that become one more stupid decision that will end up coming back to haunt me in the end?

What's going to happen to me if I don't face the people who say they love me the most and ask them for help? All by myself, I cannot fix this problem that I have created. I have to ask for help. Not only do I not have the resources to solve this problem; I also realize that I don't have the insights I need.

Now I find myself facing a bigger problem: My pride is standing in the way of finding some answers and admitting that I was wrong.

I know that neither the system nor my parents are out to ruin my life by trying to control my every move. Now I realize I do need boundaries and guidelines to follow. I cannot live my life fully without their help. What was I thinking when I thought that I was old enough and wise enough to do life all my way?

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IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Tucker, who has been in counseling practice since 1979, writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza). You may write her c/o: IT!, X-Press, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridian@sptimes.com.

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