This is the latest column from Lucy Saunders, who provides a regular agony aunt feature - Ask Lucy.
If you have a question for Lucy please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Lucy, I recently finished my second last year of school and during that year I had been talking to a guy that I was introduced to by one of our many mutual friends. However, he was in his last year of school and preparing for big exams. As we started to get close he said that nothing could happen because he didn’t want any distractions that year. We stopped talking. Months later, just after school finished for the year and he was in the middle of his exams, he messaged me. We got close and talked every day for a few weeks. Then he invited me to his friends house for a few drinks- it was his friend’s birthday. The night went really well but since then he’s been distant with me. He takes hours to reply when I message him when he is clearly active on social media sites. I’ve asked him are we okay but he just apologises for his slow replies and says he’s had a hectic day. I really like him and according to him he likes me but I just don’t know what to do. Please help me.
Lucy Says: It sounds like he wants to control when he wants to see you. He also sends conflicting messages. First of all he says he doesn’t want any distractions and then he gets in touch with you when he is right in the middle of his exams. It also seems that when ever you get ‘close’ he withdraws, he might be scared of his own feelings. It sounds like he doesn’t know what he wants? I was also wondering did anything happened on the night of the drinks party that made him become distant again? I really feel for you as you don’t know where you stand and not knowing is worse than knowing. You could bite the bullet and have a face to face chat with him and tell him you are confused the way he is behaving towards you. If the response is negative then try and forget him, as there are plenty more fish in the sea and the world is your oyster.
Dear Lucy: My daughter is 14 and is self harming, she is under our G.P. and getting the help she needs. I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about it. This has been a devasting period for my family. My husband and I have been divorced for four years and my daughter hardly sees her father.
Lucy Says: Self-harm is a very complex issue and unfortunately I can only write a few lines on the subject. I really hope you are feeling supported at this very stressful time.
Self harm can ironically make the individual feel ‘alive’ and ‘real’ and in ‘control’ by inflicting pain on the body. Attacking the body normally takes place when one becomes upset and cannot manage one’s feelings. Self harm can be particularly a characteristic of young adolescents as this is a major period of transition and the need to self harm is usually triggered by an anxiety or rejection or a trauma linked to the past which can turn into anger and an aggressive attack towards the body.
Adolescents are dealing with huge sexual and physical changes to their bodies which can also cause inner conflict. Sometimes there can be ‘psychic’ conflict in this transition stage with an inner struggle of a fear of becoming over close to their mothers but also needing to distance oneself, as the fear of being possessed and the fear of then being rejected can seem very real.
Abandonment can be a very big theme in self harm and I was wondering if your daughter might have felt abandoned by her father when you divorced and am wondering if you could be open with your daughter about how she feels and encourage her to build a relationship with her absent father, which can hopefully help her to heal her past wounds?
Dear Lucy: I failed my A-levels due to having so much fun in my 6th form and now I feel I have let my parents down. I just had the best 3 years at College partying and having fun with my mates. However I now have got myself onto a degree course, but still feeling guilty, Can you help?
Lucy Says: I feel it’s very easy to feel guilty that you haven’t lived up to your parents expectations, however you cannot allow your parents to live through you, as you are responsible for your own choices and actions. It seems to me that there was a need for you to have fun with your peers and enjoy your social life, which at the time seemed like a great education in itself? It sounds like you needed to learn and find out who you are. Everybody matures and goes through different phases in their lives at different times. I don’t see this as a failure, I see this as an important phase that you needed to go through and everyone is different. Guilt is a very negative emotion and you were probably picking up your parents’ concerns about your future and their worries that you might be left behind. I would advice you to talk to your parents about your feelings of guilt and be open and honest.
Lucy is a BACP Accredited Qualified Counsellor. She previously worked in the media as an actress.