Adulthood as a Teen with Emotional Problems
“Fuck the whole world.”
I write it from a coffee shop now, but I meant it from my soul in 1999, 2000, and 2001.
My dad’s deep, maniacal, psychological mistreatment, my family’s history of substance abuse, my closet sociopathic sister, my broken family, my unrealized and misguided free spirit, and some bizarre abuse I don’t want to mention here--imprisoned me with a negative attitude, a lack of care for my future, and an abusive behavior towards others when I was a teen.
Hate radiated from my core; kids from healthy backgrounds deserved to be made fun of; conformity prodded my unnecessary wounds.
I barely graduated high school and didn’t attend college. I was an uneducated 18-year-old in Mechanicsville, Iowa; a loser from a negative world who'd made lousy choices at a pivotal time in life.
No sunglasses for my future.
I entered the work force right after high school.
After 3 months at a call center, I got an entry-level job at a textbook manufacturer. The funny thing was, I always wanted to work there.
I lived in a house my grandparents owned for cheap rent as long as I mowed their lawn and shoveled their walk.
As my peers headed to UNI and ISU, I sat in my hometown and hung out with 9th graders.
I’d come home from my job so depressed I could barely look at myself in the mirror. The results of bad decisions snarled a victorious smile at my lifeless body.
I adopted a confusing routine for an 18-year-old: I got up at 5:50 am, worked 8 hours, came home, got the mail, took a shower, and ate dinner.
As I tagged the devil’s thorny paw at a place I can only assume was rock bottom, I set a life goal to avoid repeating the cycle of dysfunction, no matter the sacrifices.
My life now had meaningful direction.
I started to see my routine as an opportunity. I had freedom and a few hours of free time each night, so I sat at my kitchen table and wrote raps like my idols.
My rapper phase took off and I built a studio in the living room of my place.
Two avenues of my life formed; one where I worked jobs and made money (a path that eventually led to Massage Therapy and Real Estate school) and another track where I pursued my creative passions.
These two routes have evolved, intersected, and remodeled themselves countless times since 2001.
Now, as a 36-year-old whose “creative” small business did $18,244 in revenue last year, and as someone who serves tables at a steak and seafood restaurant, it’s complicated.
Making decisions around what I learned about myself during rock bottom felt worthy of trust and opened a self-made lane. After emotional Hell, the potential of failure and rejection was no big.
As a person, I learned new behaviors and used student therapy to root out my demons, but I never fully recovered from the confusion of abuse and the pain of missed opportunities. I can’t snap my fingers and instantly have the emotional connections, lifestyle, or education that others worked their whole lives for. I have no clue where I fit in socially (those missed social opportunities that should’ve come naturally still haunt me to this day).
I never have girlfriends. I rarely get second dates. My friends are people who’ve also been through heavy stuff. Conversations with new people usually end when I honestly answer the dreaded, “So, what do you do for a living?” question.
I went through a down and dirty lifestyle stage that involved a couch, I drive an old car (and a scooter), and I experience very little recreation.
I can freak out in groups, I struggle with opening up, I sometimes shake when talking about my life, and I have to apply some serious self-management at places like weddings, where family stuff looks like a magical fairy tale.
In a way, I’m still a loser, and that’s okay. Admitting I’m a loser prevents any overcompensation and allows me to see things and people as they are--less projection and triggers--other people aren’t the enemy.
I self-regulate with running, learning, writing, setting goals, sipping coffee, and making decisions towards the positive traits I’ve developed from this journey.
I don’t talk to my dad unless it’s serious, I’m not on good terms with any siblings, and holidays are lonely and painful.
I interact with others regularly, but I attract a lot of people who want their emotional stuff heard.
I find solace in rap music, self-made stories, and authentic creativity. I’ve avoided abusing drugs and alcohol by having a life goal (and I got into some scary trouble with beer as a teen).
I've developed a relatability and caring attitude that feels right.
The only advice I can give someone who’s gone too deep with negativity, abuse, or toxic habits would be: find something that’s genuine and let your passion and interest grow like a tree of positivity from within you. A negative period can be just a chapter and the speed of moving on depends on the depth and timeline of the phase and your motivation. There’ll be a buildup, a climax, a recovery phase, a rebuilding process, then ongoing management. You’ll have to expose your demons to yourself, address your triggers, and heal any ugliness in a healthy and safe way. Parts of your brain may not work as well but identify the parts (and skills in general) that have strengthened.
At 36 years of age, I have a lot of inner tools for life. I accept that things won’t come easily, but I hope to balance out, make deeper connections when it's right, and use what I’ve learned to positively contribute to society.
Recovering is possible for those who have taken shit…and given it out.