In my parents' move from their home to "The Home" (an apartment in a senior living community, really, not a HOME. But that's what they call it, affectionately). I was given boxes of my stuff that had languished in their basement for years.
We have no room in our house now for anything. Seriously, we are full-up. The process of claiming or reclaiming things from their home was fraught and difficult, with worries about hurting feelings, and actual hurting of feelings, and JUST TRYING TO GET THE DAMNED HOUSE CLEANED OUT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I'LL TAKE IT AND THROW IT AWAY AT A REST AREA ON THE WAY HOME IF WE CAN JUST KEEP MOVING... that kind of thing. Anyway, now it's done and everyone has a few (or, many many) extra boxes of things in their houses.
I was given a passel of my old diaries from high school and college, and this Summer I've read through them. Some of it is so fun to revisit, and some of it is so horrifying. It's a funny thing to see how dramatic I was, how typical-teen I was, how... (how to say this? I'll just say it) ...randy I was. I hope to God my mother and father never read these journals, for their sake. As for me, as an adult and as someone who has worked with kids for so long, some of it was horrifying to read, and it was about me! Ay.
I was telling a friend about how alarming my relationships back then were to me, reading them now. I want to go find my former self and give her a shake, tell her she can do better, tell her to play it COOL every once in a while for crying out loud. I want to tell her she's better than waiting for a boy to call, and that the boy is just messing with her head and probably could use a good therapist! (I'm not even being specific to a boy now, they all messed with my head and all could have used a good therapist, and I could have used that shake for letting them mess with my head.)
I told my friend that I wished someone had told me this stuff. My friend (who always asks me great questions!) asked, "who should have said that to you? Who would you have heard it from?" and that is a (see?) great question. It wouldn't have been my mother... in my reading I saw with 20/20 hindsight some of the opportunities that my parents missed, to help me. I'm not sure my Mother could have done much right in my opinion by then, but I do think she blew some chances to be supportive and uplifting.
I don't know if my siblings could have helped, either. The me writing those journals felt very much in control of the situation. The thing about being in a bad relationship (I remember well) is that you work so hard to make the world think you're doing just fine, and you convince yourself, in order to convince them. These relationships weren't abusive, I should clearly state here. They just weren't healthy, and didn't honor who I was. It was a pattern I lived over and over again, until I met my husband. By the time I met him, I was sick and tired of bad boyfriends, and was rewarded for my new strength with a prince. (cue: Awww.)
Anyway, I think that if I could have heard the advice, taken the shaking, it might have been from adult leaders in youth ministry. I had some great relationships with people through YM, and they really honored who I was. I think it was this genuine respect for me, in these wonderful God-loving people, that gave them the kind of credibility that I respected, that I might have listened to.
We can't re-write our youth, and as it turned out I learned a whole heck of a lot from all those bad relationships and here I am alive and a-love to blog about it. I hope all those boys have found great therapists and mates who don't let them mess with their heads. I am at peace with the fact that my parents did the best they could, and I am so thankful to my YM leaders for showing me what was valuable in me, so long ago. All this makes me want to be a better minister to young women, and to be bold in reminding them that things can be different. They don't have to live like they've lived. And they are worthy of good boys.