December 31, 2020
As a child and through my high school years, I failed at things. I was bullied – truly, physically bullied – by more than a few sociopaths. My stepfather, who came into my life when I was six, was emotionally abusive to both me and my mother. Hell was created with people like him in mind. My mother eventually descended into serious emotional disturbance. By the time I was twelve, I knew I was on my own. My father, with whom I went to live when I was fifteen, turned out to be an irresponsible, commonsense-defective narcissist. I lived with him a year and went back to live with my mother and the ogre. I came three feet from driving my car, accidentally but stupidly, off a cliff at age sixteen. Three years later, I was supporting a family.
I was never traumatized. Hurt, stunned, cut down to size, humiliated, disappointed, emotionally abandoned, stressed to the max, but never traumatized. I just picked myself up and moved on. I learned to pick myself up and move on by picking myself up and moving on. It’s what my mother did and I figured it was the thing to do. Besides, she had no time for sob stories. She had enough of her own.
My childhood was not exactly a happy one, but I was never depressed. Early on, I figured out how to make the best of it. When people ask me what my childhood was like, I tell them it was “interesting.” I was blessed with more problems in eighteen years than a kid in a Dickens’ novel. Yes, blessed. I do not dwell on anything about my childhood. I am who I am today because of it. I am a happy man and I credit my less-than-happy childhood. The only thing I’d do differently is start learning to play the guitar earlier and devote myself to it. Rock ‘n’ roll music was my escape from reality then, and it’s been my passion ever since.
The point of the story: I don’t have much sympathy for people, even young people, especially young people, who claim to be suffering from the aftereffects of some “traumatic” experience. A few weeks ago, a guy in his early twenties complained to me that something I’d said during a radio interview had “triggered” him. I wanted to say, “You are in desperate need of a growing up pill,” but I’m not quite that impulsive anymore.
So many of today’s young people complain of having been traumatized by something that would have been a molehill to me. They have anxiety about stuff that I had to deal with all the time. They’re depressed. They’re bipolar. They’re ADHD. They’re test-phobic. Blah, blah, blah. To me, their carping is nothing but soap opera.
They seem to believe that a life without soap opera is a life without meaning. So, to infuse their lives with meaning, they create soap opera. They tell their soap opera to anyone who will listen. I just want to slap ‘em, but I’m not that impulsive anymore. In many if not most cases, these soap opera factories are seeing therapists who validate their soap operas, which explains why nearly every parent who tells me his child saw a therapist says the child’s problems got a whole lot worse during that descent into quicksand.
I have concluded that today’s kids are in dire need of problems. Real problems as opposed to the tsunamis they make out of ripples on the waters of life. The problem in that regard is that lots of today’s parents spend lots of energy filtering out any and all problems from their kids’ lives and solving the ones that get through the filter. Which is why their kids are so easily traumatized.
Copyright 2020, John K. Rosemond