The teen years. Everyone has memories of that awkward time. I am reliving it …
Here you have her, the 80s punk girl. The teen years are about identity, experimentation, discovery and disappointment. I spent my time writing, sulking and listening to Depeche Mode. If you asked me then what I would be doing now I would have said, “Living in New York, writing for the Rolling Stone and driving a BMW.”
I wanted out.
Escaping Appalachia meant freedom … from honky tonk bars, from racists, from religious zealots, from closed thinking. I vowed no person (especially men) would “hold me down.” I vowed to hurt others rather than love them, to use and not be used; I vowed I would never marry. Anger and confusion consumed me. I blamed these feelings on my own adoptive parents’ failed marriage. While I loved being loved, I feared it too. I trusted no man.
My fear of love and my lack of trust were broken by my husband. With each burst of anger, he held tighter and embraced me. He withstood my irrational accusations and accepted my bizarre need for order.
He loves me despite feeling confused and rejected at times, and I am thankful for that. I need him. I need a person to whom I don’t irrationally think I need to repay.
Let me be clear. My adoptive parents never insinuated or implied that I would ever need to repay them. All those feelings of indebtedness were my own fabrication, possibly from adoption propaganda imposed by the public or possibly from the religious zealots who reminded me how lucky I should feel to be clothed and fed.
My identity has changed many times over the years from preppy college student to hippy to alternative to goth to wife to mother and now …
Now, I am unsure again. I am unsure of my past … that is, the past I do not remember. I find myself sinking to the regression of my teen years. My adult mind is wrapping itself around these suppressed feelings.
The ones who keep me grounded are my children. It is difficult for them; I know that. I turn to my fellow adoptees for emotional support.
For my family’s sake, I have hid my fears of what may come … fears of finding no one in Korea, fears of finding parents but being rejected again, fears of finding parents and not being able to communicate, fears of finding siblings but no parents living. A piece of me wishes I could just go back to the “bliss” of not knowing … not knowing why I was angry, not knowing why I felt distrust, not knowing why love was so hard an emotion to accept.
My precocious daughter said it best, “Mom, you are scaring me! I mean you act like a teenager with your loud music, wanting a tattoo and joking. Please be an adult!”
I so desperately want that, but yes, in some ways she is correct. While I may play my music loud in the car because my hearing is going, I am back in that teenage discovery mode. I am exploring my identity through art, thinking of a tattoo to accentuate this new identity and enjoying the immaturity of my youth with my teenaged son. That brings me joy for now …
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