I Didn’t Rebel as a Teenager, and I Don’t Know How I Feel About That

TWs: sexual abuse, abusive relationship, childhood

Royseven 1Today’s prompt from The Daily Post is “Rebel“, so I’m thinking this morning about the times in my life I might have rebelled in some tiny little way. When I was 15 I stopped learning piano and took up guitar instead (and I am still kicking myself for not just playing both). When I was 16 I started making arrangements to study medicine in university because it was what was expected of me, but eventually changed my mind and studied English instead. That same year, I was open about the fact that I was pro-choice, which was very much frowned upon in rural Donegal (by the way, repeal the eighth. Thanks). When I was 19 I talked to therapists and doctors and got prescribed antidepressants, something my mother isn’t keen on. When I was 21 I came out as transgender.

These are all, in a way, tiny little rebellions. They’re doing little things that are not what is expected by the people and systems around me. But they weren’t big, conscious rebellions. They weren’t me making a decisions to disrupt the flow of things happening around me. They were just me, on occasion, opening up about who I really am. And that’s neat and important, but it’s not what I’m looking for.

Mum and IWhat I’m trying to say, in my ineloquent way, is that I have been… dutiful(?) for as long as I can remember. My goal in life has been not to inconvenience people, and that includes my teenage years. I didn’t drink or smoke (I briefly had a go at drinking when I was 18/19 but found it wasn’t really my thing)(I have still never so much as taken a puff of someone’s cigarette, which is sort of lame probably). I didn’t party. I didn’t go into town to “hang out” unless someone was already going that way.

I’ve seen an interesting video called “The Dangers of the Good Child” and it seemed interesting. Everything in it should be taken with a pinch of salt because it’s from one of those ~school of life~ pop psych channels that can convincingly argue just about anything without any real evidence, but it seemed to hit home a little too much to be completely false: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DTIzzf6ncg

I think I liked being a “good” child. I liked being liked and trusted by teachers and I liked rarely getting in any form of trouble. I didn’t so much like being pretty much invisible because of my perceived lack of problems, though. I didn’t like that at school I was given a piece of work in the morning and trusted to basically do it all day without supervision while the teacher focused on the ~problem students~.

P1010916For the most part, I think it’s fine that I didn’t really rebel in my youth. There aren’t too many embarrassing photos and stories from my teen years, because I didn’t really do anything noteworthy. I worked hard, I got good grades and I got into university, and that has been pretty fantastic.

There are some problems though.

Like, I wonder if I would have stayed in an abusive relationship for three years if I hadn’t grown up to be quite so dutiful. I wonder if I would have allowed myself to be coerced into sex when I was far too young to understand what was happening. I wonder if I would have listened to the “I can’t live without you” manipulations. I wonder if I would have asked for help if I wasn’t so sure it’d just cause difficulties for everyone.

I wonder if I would have allowed my mental health to decline so much before seeking help if I wasn’t so worried about the fact that loads of people have it much worse than me.

As usual, I don’t know what my conclusion here is. I am glad I was a “good” child and that I have grown into a good person. I just wish I had the guts to be a little more selfish sometimes.



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