I left home when I was 16 to escape an unhealthy and traumatic environment. I have been independent and self-sufficient since. Travelling and exploring the world in addition to my thirst for knowledge has led me to be accepted to a university, U.B.C. I feel as though my success has been made possible only through my turmoil. From an early age I had to manage the majority of responsibilities.
From grade three and upwards I was responsible for the transportation and well-being of my three siblings. One time, my parents had moved during the day, leaving only an address with the school secretary. With this address to go on, and my knowledge of the subway system, I had to get everyone home. These experiences in which traumatic circumstances were ubiquitous is what has helped shape the foundation of my character. Often young carers are given a lot of responsibility and put in circumstances that are, well, rather terrifying.
Through most of my adolescence I was verbally and physically abused by my parents, while taking on these responsibilities, which, as a whole, made things more difficult. As a young carer your “image” means a lot. You have to be strong and unaffected for you younger siblings, in order for them to feel safe. You generally hide injuries or physical pain because of all the questions and attention it would bring. You never speak about home life to anyone, and you generally don’t accept any form of help.
For me, this lifestyle was what I considered normal, I thought every child lived like this and never questioned my worth or the methods of my parents. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I broke the controlling sway of my parents, realized how I had been treated and left; never to look back. I have been actively supporting myself since, and I am quite happy. Granted, I no longer have any form of relationship with any family members but I think the solidarity suits me after years of caring solely for others.
At the end of the day I can understand why things happened the way they had and I hold no blame towards anyone. See, my parents both came from foreign countries. Both with parents who physically abused them. Having moved to a new country only to later start raising four kids must have been difficult. They had my oldest brother at ages 17 and 18; my parents were forced into a very new and challenging situation with no resources to help them at a very young age.
Understanding their situation and history allows me to appreciate the complexity of parenthood. Granted it doesn’t excuse or justify their parenting methods, but by coming from a point of understanding I have been able to forgive them, holding no resent towards two people that just happened to have a very difficult time.
Life can be hard, its hard for everyone; just in different ways. For young carers, that sense of “hard life” is doubled. Often due to the responsibility of the hard lives of those you, as a young carer, are responsible for.
You are not alone, and if you want it, and only if YOU want it, there are a surprising amount of people who care, and want to help. The question you must ask yourself is if you will be brave enough to let them.