My therapist has remarked a few times that I don’t talk much about my teenage years. No, I don’t. I’m too embarrassed and ashamed; too afraid to go there. All this time I’ve thought I was the problem: that there was some inherent defect in me; some inherent badness that I’ve not wanted to reveal.
I’m starting to wonder, though, if I wasn’t the problem after all. Well… I was, but only because of circumstances and the things that were done to me – not because I was inherently bad in any way.
Even after all these months of therapy I’m still not sure about this.
I was very unhappy for most of my teenage years. Aside from the regular awkwardness of growing up, there was the fact that I lived two lives: one pretending I was “normal” when at school… and another life at home.
I was a social outcast, particularly with boys. I avoided being around the boys, except in groups. I’d go to parties, but I’d act the fool and get drunk. It got laughs and also blocked out the hard stuff.
I didn’t get asked on a date until I was about 17. I never got asked to the “prom”. I never had that gooey, gushy awkwardness of teenage boys and girls. I was even too embarrassed to hang around too long at the tram stop after school. I was fat and ugly and I thought that’s why the boys didn’t like me. Perhaps it was, I don’t know? Or perhaps it was just that I didn’t understand life and boys and stuff like that? Perhaps it was that my father had scarred me so I was too scared, I don’t know?
When I was about 15 my father started accusing me of being a lesbian. It sounds so silly now, but when you’re 15 and growing up and life is awkward and fumbly and hard anyway… well, it just adds another scar. It shouldn’t, but given that everything my father said to me was negative, he only meant one thing with these comments. (As I sit here now, I wonder what the hell sort of father makes those kinds of comments to his daughter anyway, but I haven’t digested that.)
So I felt alone and unloved and that I didn’t belong, either at home or at school/with friends. I hated going home after school. My father and I would fight. When I grew up a bit I started arguing and fighting back… and that always spelled trouble. Eventually I learned that and I’d hide away in my room and do my homework… and cut myself or burn myself, just to take myself away for a little while.
Back then I’d tell myself that I didn’t want to go out anyway, but I did. I didn’t understand why the boys didn’t like me. I thought I was broken in some way. I just wanted to be pretty like the other girls and dress up in pretty dresses. Even now I’d like a pretty dress, but I’m still too embarrassed and ashamed to wear it.