“I was heartbroken and felt worthless and lost. Just like I did right after my dad died”: Laurel’s* story

My dad passed away about four years ago and my family hasn’t been the same since. In fact, we really haven’t coped at all.

I pushed myself to get back into dance class; it was the only thing that I could really focus on and the only thing that made me come close to being happy after my dad died. My sister Jessica is a dancer too. She was always so much more popular than I was. She had so many friends and would always get the lead solo in the spring show. This spring though, I was selected to join Jessica in the older class, and she didn’t like that at all. She’d always picked on me a bit, but her teasing and bullying got so much worse when I joined her class. She and her friends started teasing and bullying me all the time. They called me horrible names, tried to turn other kids against me and spread rumours about me.

I didn’t let that stop me though. I practised every day and had the routine down perfectly, and each day was starting to get a little easier than the one before it. As the spring show came closer I couldn’t have been more excited. My hard work paid off and I was selected to perform the solo. I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my mom.

When I got home that night I noticed that my sister wouldn’t stop smirking and giving me weird looks. I went to my room and my mom was sitting there on the bed with an anxious look on her face. She said that it wasn’t fair for me to get the solo, because my sister had worked harder and longer than I did. She wanted me to give the part up so my sister would have it. I tried to tell her that I worked every day and was so excited but she just wouldn’t listen to me.

I was heartbroken and felt worthless and lost. Just like I did right after my dad died.

I had no one to turn to and I had all these feelings that I couldn’t deal with. I needed someone to talk to and I had no one. I called Kids Help Phone.

The counsellor said I was brave for calling and that she could hear how upset I was. She said she understood that I didn’t want to disappoint my mom and sister but that it was okay for me to consider my own feelings.

She also encouraged me to let my mom and sister know how important dance was to me. Dance really is my passion and maybe if I told them how I felt, they would support me more. She was right! I sat down with my mom and my sister and told them how I really felt. I had never been able to express myself very clearly before, and my mom just kept on saying that she only wanted me to be happy. My sister was less forgiving at first, but even she came around eventually.

The best part was, I didn’t have to give up the dance solo.

Things still get tense with my mom and sister sometimes, but they are definitely better. Nothing will ever replace my dad, but at least in this moment I have dance and a happier family that is a little bit better at getting along.

*Based on a true client story. Details have been changed to protect the anonymity and confidentiality of the client’s personal information.