Tortured Teen Years

On my recent trip (because remember it was *not* a vacation), Sister K and I spent hours fondly reminiscing about our formative years. We laughed about all kinds of things. So much of what we thought was so serious back then serves as slapstick humorous now. It’s amazing what being an adult and gaining a lot of maturity can do for you.

Since adopting Hope I spend a lot of time pondering my adolescent years and the dumb things I did. The few times I snuck out. The boyfriends and crushes. Football and basketball games that were followed by an after party at the nearby McDonalds. The *ahem* underage drinking—I had a particular fondness for the blue curacao in Blue Motorcycles at a local dive bar where a friend’s older sister worked, and the occasional “puff, puff, pass.”. Dates and dances. Asymmetrical haircuts with a lot of crimping…man the late 80s and early 90s were something!

I remember rarely talking to my parents about my life during those years. I bumped heads with my mom a lot, and looking back, my dad and I are so much alike that I think it just made us repel like two magnets. In any case, I wouldn’t dream of talking to them the way that Hope talks to me.

I am amazed weekly by our little confabs and what she wants to share with me. It’s so crazy cool and at times terrifying since it can be shocking and I know it’s the edited version. Now, I won’t lie sometimes I have to fight hard to pay attention because the topics can be blindingly boring to me and there is a high, high risk for me glazing over and putting the following on a loop:

“Uh huh. You don’t say? Really? Noooooooo! Yeah? Hmmmm. Shut UP!”

One night this week we were up late talking about her crush life. It was so serious. I mean, really in her mind we are talking about her entire future!!! In my mind we are talking about maybe a week and a half from now…at most.

It’s kind of hard to stifle my internal chuckles, but I manage.

Our chat this week was really fun despite her tortured soul status. I was so moved by our girl talk that after she retired to her room for the night, I went to my sacred shelf and fetched one of my journals from high school.

I have all of my journals since high school. I keep them on a shelf. Before this week they were tied together with some twine with a note to give of one of my dearest friends in case something happened to me (it’s also in my will—just saying you gotta plan for that kinds stuff! Do you want it falling into just anybody’s hands??). I undid the twine and opened this book for the first time in at least 20 years. I started at the beginning; when I was going steady with the boy I spent most of my teen years obsessing over. I had reached my own love pinnacle by going steady with Bob*. About 10ish pages later he had broken up with me—unclear why—and the next 50+ pages I mourned the demise of the short lived relationship. You would have thought I lost a blood relative. (Side note: I ran into Bob a few years ago at a grocery store in Florida; he had dreads that started in the back of his head….#dodgedabullet)

I had other serious crushes throughout those pages, but they were all measured against Bob*. My writing was full of angst, anger, sadness, episodic joy (like when I got my wisdom teeth out before prom and dropped more than 10lbs!!!), and just teen messiness.

I documented a LOT of my teen life. Sometimes I think this is a lost art, what with social media. It is interesting to go back and look at my life when I was close to Hope’s age. It gives me perspective on her struggles and emotional turmoil. I suppose I could be a bit more sympathetic to her plight.

It’s easy to look back almost 30 years and think all of the shenanigans were silly and as a result be callous about Hope’s feelings now.

Reading my own words reminded me how hard it was and how I probably was miserable more than I was not during some of my teen years. I imagine that things are probably really hard for Hope given all the extra stuff she’s had to deal with before these moments.

I wish I could make it easier for her.

I suppose I can by just loving her harder and realizing when I need to listen and when I need to shut up and give her some space.

In the meantime, I’ll keep reading my old journal, hoping for more insights.

*Not his real name.


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

4 responses to “Tortured Teen Years

  • AdoptiveNYMomma

    WOW what a nice gift to get for yourself to be able to remember what happened and how much you went through yourself. So glad you and Hope can talk even if it is edited. It really is a nice sign.

  • TheChroniclesofaNonBellyMama

    I have all of my journals since I was 10 years old. I had a teacher in 4th grade that started us journaling, and I never stopped. I also have them, stored in a box, way in the back of my closet, and every once in a while, I’ll go in there and read what happend 3, 7, 10 years ago on that particular date. It’s so awesome to have that kind of stuff. I feel you on the anguish ish of having your heart broken at 16. Girl, the ish I write in those books would PAIN me if it got into the wrong hands. I too have left them in my living will, which my wife thought was ridiculous, mainly because they aren’t for her, but for my sister, who loves my writing and I know would read every word! LOL! It’s awesome that Hope is so open with you, because I was NOT that way at all with my parents! I definitely am now tho. When my siblings, my parents, and I get together, we have Confession Friday’s where everyone’s 9-12th grade dirty laundry is aired out. My parents think it’s hilarious actually. Love how you are with Hope…

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      See!?! Another person who’s made provisions for her personal papers! I tell people I’m not crazy! Those journals got me together quick. It was eye opening to put myself back in high school and remember all those emotions. Tough stuff.

      Hey, did ya see my email??? 🙂

  • thebeautifulopportunity

    Hilarious with “commentary on a loop” bit. Seriously, I hear you there. Uh-huh. Really. You don’t say! (Just kidding!)

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