Repression

In lieu of therapy (which I am clearly in desperate need of) I am writing down my random thoughts in the hopes that, once purged, they will be irrevocably gone from my mind.

For that reason I will begin with what seems like it would be a quite ordinary query from a person in the psychological field.

Dr. Shrinkowitz: How would you describe yourself in three words? Be honest.
Me: (with a sappy, yet bashful, smile) sweet, helpful, nice.

It baffles me that the subconscious can be so misguided.

A few years ago, these are the exact adjectives that I would have used to define myself (as long as I was feeling generous with the niceties), both now and in the past. All of that changed, however, in the last few months. It’s not that I suddenly became a bad person; in fact, those traits that I had said before are ones that I would use to characterize myself today (again: don’t think me an egotistical ass, the personal unpleasantries of my personality will come through soon enough). It is the memories that I have of my past that have come creeping back slowly, infiltrating my every thought. At unexpected moments, new (often disturbing) recollections of events that happened during my adolescence seem to manifest themselves in my brain, causing sudden anxiety: my fingers tingle, my stomach leaps about, and I begin to feel sick.
Repression
Lest anyone perceive this as an admission of illegal practices, let me assure you, dear reader: I was simply being a bit, well, tart (for lack of a better word) throughout these years. Could it have been the all-too-conventional daddy issues? Perhaps it was a call for attention? Acceptance? Whatever “it” happened to be, the solution wasn’t found until adulthood, when I finally felt content. How, you may ask, did it affect others.

Cheating on trusting boyfriends;

Breaking up friendships;

Pouncing on the romantic companion of another;

Unfortunately, the list goes on.

For a while they slowly trickled in, but then the memories all came to the surface as if they’d always been there. It’s kind of like when you have been awake for awhile, but a dream that had been cultivated the night before is suddenly and all-at-once is remembered over a turkey sandwich and Diet Coke.

This wasn’t good. Not good at all. Perhaps the analogy would have been better described as a nightmare.

No one has ever made the claim that teenagers are great decision-makers. As much as I realize the choices that I, as well as the majority of kids of a certain age, made were not exactly, um, the “best” (a learning experience?), in my 16th and 17th years of life I was a horror show. I dare to say that my image to many people was that of a good girl: quiet, but sweet; forgetful, but helpful; unorganized, but nice.

Others, those whom I hurt along my path during my high school years, would see me in a completely different light. So, many who I characterized as the enemy to me, the protagonist and champion of my life’s story; classmates who I looked at with such animosity and blame (because they were alarmists, jerks, or weirdos) in actuality, were the victims!

To find out that you are the “bad guy” in your own life story is not a good feeling.

I look toward the people whom I admire. Those who are famous, those who are present in my own life, those who I have only read about in brief. Are their childhoods riddled with misbehavior? Are there uncertainties and “bumps” along the path of their adolescence? Has the direction of their youth always gone the way of perfection?

As a young person who is learning and growing, there are many mistakes that are made. People who are hurt along the way. This is a fact of life. I specifically remember denying a friendship with my closest companion in elementary school to the “cool girls,” in the hopes of gaining their affections (if only for a moment).

P.S. It didn’t work.

Although I don’t ever want my children to make mistakes like I have in the past, I know it’s an important part of the learning process. By sheltering them from everything, aren’t we just perpetuating spineless demeanor and cowardly disposition?

A sudden coming to surface of all these repressed memories has made me realize that I had accepted the fact that I could remember all the words to songs I had heard- from “No Diggity” to the Les Miz soundtrack, but for some reason everything prior to age 26 was a blur.

Overall, I’ve been awful and I’ve been wonderful. I think everyone has at times. It’s important to focus on the moments when you were a good person in order to move forward as the good person you want to be. At least, this is what the psychoanalyst in my head says.

Author

Sometimes living life at its maximum, sometimes barely eking by. Trying to get through parenting with a modicum of sanity intact.

2 comments

  1. That was incredibly raw and completely hit home. I think many of the decisions we make in our younger years come back to haunt us and the thought of our own children making the same mistakes can be, at times, nauseating. You hit the nail on the head with this post. I would have described you as the originally three words you used in high school. I think a lot of us were mislabeled, both good and bad, back then. It’s what you do with the life lesson that matters most.

    1. Thanks Laurie- I was this way and that about actually posting this, because it’s so scary to admit fault on this level, but it actually ended up being a cathartic experience. I’m glad you were able to relate to some degree!

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