In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Helpless.”
The writing prompt reads: Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?
To get around in Maine, you have to own a car. So, when I lived with my parents as a teenager, I was completely helpless.
I love my parents and I realize that they are not perfect people, but neither am I. When I was a kid, there were times that I should have said that I needed help, but I thought it was clear to them that I did. I needed to learn how to drive, but I felt that I was overstepping if I were to say anything about it.
While in high school, I still didn’t get the chance to learn how to drive. Some relatives would ask me: why haven’t you got your driver’s license yet?
I wouldn’t know what to say to them. It was partly because I was too shy to ask my parents for help and partly because my dad, who was the only one who wanted to teach me, was too busy.
I did drive this big old truck of my dad’s until it broke down. My parents were going to give me their old jeep, but it the engine was dead from running over a deer. While my older sister, Sandy (not real name), got her license and was driving back and forth in my parents’ old Taurus to school and home, I was at home resenting my parents for not helping me out.
I graduated high school and I still didn’t have my driver’s license. All my friends were going places. I stayed at home wishing I could go to college with them. My parents promised me that they would teach me how to drive and help me get a car in a year’s time.
Then the house fire happened. If I wasn’t completely helpless then, I was after the house burned down. When we moved into my aunt and grandmother’s house, my mom told me that college and a car was out.
Living with my aunt, grandmother, and my parents made me realize that my luck wasn’t going to change. I had to seek help outside of my family. I moved out with a then boyfriend (let’s call him “R”) and his mother. I became a little more independent. While living there with them, I had money and a job. Although, that didn’t stop my then boyfriend from telling me how I should spend it.
My semi-independence also didn’t stop R from telling me that he didn’t approve of my spiritual lifestyle (I was Neopagan), my feminism, or my curiosity of the occult.
While with R, I wanted to go to college so bad. He was going until he decided that he was ranking up too much debt. R would rather work himself to death at a low paying job than be in school. Two years in the relationship, he dropped out.
I didn’t mind that he decided college wasn’t for him. What I did mind was that when I told him I wanted to go to college, the first thing he said was “See what my mom says.”
Because I had a job and I paid for our stay at the house, my future was R’s and his mother’s business.
After another year of that, I decided I needed to break up with him. In that year, I became deeply depressed and anxious about my future. I couldn’t take it anymore.
At 23, I finally moved out from that horrible relationship. I moved into an apartment close by work, but since R wouldn’t help me pack or move my things, I had to get help from a friend.
For work, I rode my bike back and forth. In the winter, it was unbelievably freezing and drivers would splash me with the cold crude slush.
I gained a little independence at the price of feeling helpless again. This time in a different way.
At the apartment, I got involved with an abusive man (let’s call him “B”). I couldn’t see or talk to anyone or do anything without my ex knowing about it. In his mind, if I didn’t tell him what I was doing, I was cheating on him.
Because B didn’t want to help me, when I lost my job in August 2012, I had to move back in with my parents. I decided that I didn’t want to chase jobs anymore and go to college. I was going to start school in the spring 2013.
I still didn’t have my driver’s license. Because I couldn’t drive, I took all my liberal studies courses online.
I finally got a car in April 2013, but I still needed my license.
Because we were arguing for a week about my friend I hung out with on Monday, on July 12, 2013 – that Friday, I broke up with B. It seemed that he could do whatever he wanted, but he wanted me to stay at home and not talk to anyone.
After the break up, I felt relieved.
I got my driver’s license in August 2013! Just in time too. I had to take a campus course.
I began college in January 2013 (online courses). I bought my car in April. Broke up with an abusive boyfriend in July. Got my license in August and began taking campus courses in the fall.
I met my Loverly in February 2014. Since then, we’ve lived together and we’re so happy (yes, you read that right. I moved in a month later, but only because he asked me to).
Helplessness is a terrible state as well as a terrible feeling. Knowing you have to depend on others for help is the worst. Throughout it all, I never gave up. I just kept on climbing the independence ladder slowly gaining control over my life. When you’re in an impossible situation, that’s all you can do.