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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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I am becoming a woman, AGAIN

Hello! So I've been working on a whole mess of essays, which is good. It's good to be actually working instead of, say, clawing my face off. Although I have to tell you, I'm not really seeing the difference between the two activities, right now. Because for some reason, some reason I possessed many months ago, I elected to write about my adolescence, and "torture" does not fully begin to describe the experience of tackling this subject matter.

In order to write about the events surrounding my blossoming into womanhood, I have to try and recall what precisely happened, and that means burrowing around in a subsection of my memory that I locked up a while ago. Not that my adolescence was particularly traumatic, although parts of it come close. It was just awkward. And painful. And I was a half-formed human being, reeling around being spiteful and petty and then retreating to my bedroom to listen to the Smiths and feel sorry for myself. "I was drunk and also an idiot" seems to explain a lot of the insane behavior I exhibited, back then. Actually it pretty much wraps up my life from 14-25, which not coincidentally was the year I stopped drinking. (And then, yes, started again in my thirties, but by then I had morphed into an adult who could walk away after half a glass of wine, an idea that would have been completely foreign to me during the years that one drink turned into twelve turned into waking up and not knowing where I was.)

Many of the events surrounding my pre-teen and teenage years make excellent essay fodder, which is why I'm writing about them, duh, but really it would be better if I could simply lop off that part of my brain and hand it to someone who can sift through the material and get it on paper without needing to call her therapist a few times.

All I can think while I'm writing is, my son is going to have to go through adolescence? With all of our scientific progress, haven't we found some way to help us skip this part of life? Can't I put him into some kind of suspended animation?

Reader Comments (41)

I never thought anything would be as bad as living through ages 12 - 25. But living through your child's adolescence is worse! It's like watching all those awkward stages and painful mean girls episodes and not being able to do anything about it. ugh!
November 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGiyen
i can't stand reading my journals from my late teens to early 20's. IT'S PAINFUL how annoying i would find me if i met me know. wait, what?

November 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersarah
I really appreciate this post - it puts exactly how I feel into words. My oldest is 13 and in 7th grade right now. Until now, it never crossed my mind that by having children, I would have to go through middle school/junior high again. I can assure you it is NO easier the second time around.
November 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStacy
You could not pay me enough to go through my teenage years again. Definitely not HS. 20's were significantly better though. My husband and I were talking about what we anticipate to be the hardest part of being a new parent (due with our first in 3 weeks) and we're thinking teenage-hood. But we really have no idea. Just personal experience of our own teenage-hoods.
November 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercrazylovescompany
Fuck. I think I'm still trapped in adolescence. Which means I'll need to find something else to write about. Gosh darn.
November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
I did precisely what you describe. Worse probably. I had more relapses in my 30s though.

This must be some kind of denial on my part but do you ever look at that time and think that really isn't you--that it was someone else's life? I see those self-destructive traits in myself still (e.g., I can't really stop at half a glass most times) in myself but honestly, it's now hard to relate to, e.g., that college student in the emergency room of the inner city hospital who might be od'ing. The waking up and not knowing where I was. Being blotto in an alley of a truly scary neighborhood. It seems so strange now, and I cannot occupy that mental space I must have been in. (For example, I am so alarmed by the crazy shit I did! All remembering turns me into so kind of retrospective mother of my past self and I freak out at my past behavior.)

Maybe to write about it, it's better to fully own it as 'you' though.

I hope it goes well.
November 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
I cannot imagine sifting through my adolescent and teenage years, let alone actually writing it down! Ugh. Those are years I would prefer to leave in the 'black out' category of my brain - which is what most of it was.

Oh, the pain of it. Good luck and I admire you for taking it on.
November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngie
Suspended Animation -- isn't that an oxymoron?
November 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBOSSY
Perhaps it's different for boys...yeah, probably not. Another thing, it seems that they are faced with so much of the angst so much sooner. Mayeb they'll be wiser sooner..again, probably not.

I do think that in the end being loved and accepted at home helps.
November 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramanda
I'm thinking adolescence is not going to be so bad with a boy.

Course, at some point I will have to explain that the box of TAMPAX is not really filled with disposable cat toys as I had earlier explained.
November 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLorrie Veasey
I have renounced my adolescent self. Because she was INSANE. That 's right !
November 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJane Choo
I actually did save all my teenage diaries, and oh my god, that is some funny, sad shit. I read through them recently and the whole thing was one big "owwww". good luck with that.
November 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermfk
ewwwww sticky topic, I'd rather forget and I was one of those little goody two-shoes who did everything right,

However, my mom says that the first 20 years were a breeze but the last 20 I've been hell on wheels and makeing her crazy...gee thanks ma!
November 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJerri Ann
Yeah, going through my journal from those earlier years is BRUTAL. I don't know how exactly our stories compare, but adolescence sucked and I certainly don't miss it.
November 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney
I think it skips a generation. The crazy teen years. Since you were a crazy teen (me too), you will be a more reality based Mom. More in tune to the reality of teenage life, more likely to actually SEE your kids and be able to talk to them. So this is my hope with my kids anyway!
December 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNikki
Maybe writing about something that's not depressing and awful would make you feel happier. You always sound so sad.
December 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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