Then and now, me, as a Teen

Today’s exercise… a memoir snapshot contrasting my teenage struggles with overcompensating adult abundance.

I was awkward.

I know we all say that, but, well, I was.

My teeth were as yellowed as my sun-in hair.

They were also as crooked as my taste in music which was Debbie Gibson and Madonna, while trying to keep up with my few friends who listened heartily to The Cure and Depeche Mode.

Between the crooked and the yellow, in the few photos you can find of me, you rarely find me smiling.

Sure, to the outside theorist, I wasn’t smiling because my home life was Hell.

Too cliche?

Well, I was, after all, an American teenager in the late eighties.

We were the generation that inevitably developed into slackers and grunge.

It also didn’t help that my mother left her drugs around the house and had a revolving door of men parading out of her bedroom.

There may have been some warranted angst involved.

But really it was because I was embarrassed of my smile.

I was also beanstalk skinny. Lanky.

Something I would spend my adult years disbelieving as I battled weight issues of the opposite spectrum.

Disbelieving because I had blocked the good with the bad of my youth in one organic lump as though I were born into this world at age twenty.

My plumped weight, which I am sure began as a symbol of my burgeoning successes.

A sign that my life had gone from bleak and malnourished to abundant and overflowing.

As life is wont to do, without balance, my successes became my darkest adult torment.

A scrawny unliked teenager who didn’t love himself became a fat over-loved adult who didn’t love himself.

Half-way through my thirties, I finally am finding the balance.

The middle.

The yin and yang of my body, mind and heart.

The ability to receive love offers me the ability to love.

The ability to love myself requires less validation from external sources and allows me to be more selfless and kind.

Nourishment that is not deprived nor overwhelmed, but plenty.

The ability to find fond moments from my adolescence I was sure never existed.

To safely remember my past without fear of being forcefully delivered back in time.

To look back and smile at my silly yellow hair.

And be thankful for my now white teeth.

In a healthy loved body that is neither too skinny and lanky or too swollen and plump.

With a smile I shine cartoonishly wide in every photo, proudly and confidently.

A symbol of how far I’ve come and a foundation to go furthermore.

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