March 20, 2013

an open letter of apology on behalf of adolescent girls everywhere

Dear Mom,

Hello, hi. It's not been long since last we talked, but I just want to take a moment to say some things to you. If I may. It's about the times we rarely speak of - when I was... well, adolescent. 

See, I was in Target just the other day, minding my own business, browsing through the clothing, when I happened upon this mother and daughter, shopping together. The daughter, on the low end of her teens, was shopping for bras; certainly a sensitive venture in and of itself, but they seemed to be faring alright. They were bantering a little about brands, basically, what the girl wanted vs. what mom was willing to spend. Nothing too spectacular. I smiled a little as I listened to them go back and forth, even thought fondly about shopping with you, way back when, bickering at Kohls about how I'd rather be at Abercrombie. I walked into the dressing room to try on my items and promptly forgot about them, stepping back into my own little daze.

Oh but see, they followed me, back there to those dressing rooms. I recognized their voices and I noticed their presence, still focused more on my own current tastes than anything they were doing. I tried on a dress, pretty cute, a little long. I tried on one of those peplum shirts I always think I'm going to like and never do, remembered I don't like them, took it off. It was around this time, however, that their presence in my midst became relatively impossible to ignore.

For the love of all that is good and holy, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Mom, for ever being that age, for ever using that tone, for ever screaming at you in a dressing room, because I know I did. Initially I was irritated - I wished they would take their brawl elsewhere so I could enjoy the serenity of the Target fitting rooms in peace. Then I was amused, for about a hot second, before my amusement was quickly replaced with something alarming and utterly distressing - like a ton of bricks it hit me - I was that girl. Like a PTSD flashback, all of a sudden it wasn't Arielle who was yelling, but me. I cringed, nearly fell to the ground in a dramatic heap of shame, certainly as red as the walls around me.

As a full-on therapist nowadays, I know that girl is (as I was) ridden with angst and body image issues and embarrassment and a whole gamut of things that, as a counselor, as a woman, I have empathy for. I possess that awareness, now. She (and adolescent me, by extension), on the other hand, did not. She just yelled and screamed and "UGH WHATEVER MOM YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ME 'd" until she was, I can only imagine, blue in the face; and even that didn't stop her from continuing to be the actual most horrible.

While normally in these types of situations I find assurance - yknow, certain job security for my whole life long (God help me) - what I felt in this particular moment was an uncontrollable urge to apologize to you. And to my other family members, parents specifically, certainly you were not spared from my reign of terror, not clear from my path of destruction - though not necessarily dressing-room specific - to you I extend heartfelt apologies as well. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for any family vacations I may have ruined, any trips to the mall or the movies or a restaurant I may have taken a proverbial crap on with my hormones, angst, and changing-body anxiety. On behalf of teenage girls everywhere, to everyone, in fact: I'm sorry. I will work my whole life to repent for the atrocity of my behavior at fifteen. I will be a freaking delight for the remainder of my years and even then my debt may not be paid. But I'll die trying.

This may seem like sarcasm, but having been privy to Arielle's Target meltdown, I can assure you, it is genuine [and maybe just slightly hyperbolized for the sake of entertainment, but who's counting]. There may be no degree of apology, in reality, to repair the trauma of being close to an adolescent girl. But that's why I wrote you this letter, so you could feel affirmed and validated in a public forum. Much like the ones I used to yell at you in. See what I did there?

So in closing, I'm sorry for all the dressing rooms in which I am certain you were mortified as unsuspecting bystanders in their late 20's stood by in horror while I screamed at you.

But also? I still don't really see why we couldn't have just gone to Abercrombie.



For those of you reading at home who are not my mother/other parents, this is me in the very beginning of my adolescent years. I know what you're thinking - how could a girl in such stylin' short-alls be such a pain in the a-money-money? I'm as confused as you are. Seriously. Look how hard I rocked those short-alls.

1 comment:

mdh said...

I swear I had an outfit just like that. And I did my hair just like that. Time is weird like that. Wondering what I'm currently doing that will come back in photo-form to haunt me in the future...