Never Assume You Know Your Teens, Even If You're Sure You Do!

A few weeks ago, I was at a funeral for an aunt that had passed away. She was almost 90, had made me laugh with her stories and memories of being a poor Polish girl growing up in Newark, NJ. She was tough and funny and smart, and left an impression on everyone she met, from family members to the people in the line at the grocery stores to the nurses in the hospital. Her sister was devastated and inconsolable, and my cousin had asked me to watch after her and stay by her side during the whole affair, which I did gladly. He said he asked me because I was the strong one.  I had at one time been the black sheep of the family, but more recently became the "strong one", the one who lived her passion and did what she had to do. Ok.

As I looked at my sixteen year old daughter on that cold and cloudy day in the cemetery, my heart swelled with pride. Of the three of my children, she was the one who was most like me. She resembles me and she has that "rebel soul" that says, "I don't really give a crap what you think of me, I refuse to wear UGG boots just cause the rest of you girls do, and I also don't listen to Justin Beiber.  I have a pierced nose, and want a tattoo very, very soon,  and God help anyone who gets in my way." She took pride in being different, in standing out.

This wasn't always the case. She was severely bullied in middle school, to the point that she had to change schools. Now three years after the fact, she had new friends, good friends that had her back, was doing pretty good in school, worked a part time job at Shop Rite which gave her a great sense of pride. She had been saving up to buy her own car.

Sometimes she had to work until 9:45 on Tuesday nights, which led me to have to be sitting in the parking lot waiting for her at 9:40 and then speed back home; you see, Sons of Anarchy was on at 10. Had to make it back in time to dim the lights, get a glass of wine for me and a Mountain Dew for her, and hush up everyone else that happened to be around including three dogs, two cats, her sister, brother and stepdad. They knew better than to disturb us during that show! I loved all this, mother/daughter bonding, it was something we did together, without fail. We were addicted; we cried together at Opie's funeral,  had matching SOA Tank Tops, and Jax and SAMCRO became almost like family to us; albeit kind of f*&*d up family...

One day last month, we had a particularly nice autumn Indian summer day, and my daughter and I rolled down the windows in my car, and drove downtown singing at the top of our lungs, Tonight, Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae; "La La La, Whatever, La La La It Doesn't Matter!" Next song up, "I'm Not Okay" by My Chemical Romance. Love that song! Yes, I'm almost 50, but belting that one out, oblivious to the weird looks we get from other drivers, allows me to tap into the long-ago teenage angst, get it all out, YEAH!!singing-in-the-car

So complete and utter disbelief and shock hit me as I found out two weeks ago that this same daughter, the daughter that I felt so close to, the one that was most like me, was severely depressed, had been self-injuring, and had been having suicidal ideation for a long, long time. The psychiatrist in the hospital said she felt she didn't deserve to live, didn't deserve to be happy, and when she saw other people happy, she felt worse, because she couldn't be. When she saw other people sad, she became sad too. She never felt close to anyone, even her friends. She just couldn't do it, couldn't form those bonds that transferred Facebook friends to real live friends, who she could call and talk to, who she could hang out with on a Friday night. She had thoughts of jumping out a window, of just leaving it all behind. "It was all just too much," she had told me that day, she didn't want to go on, didn't have the strength to go on. Didn't feel anything she did made a difference at all, and all she tried to do she failed; it was all for naught. What difference did it make in the end anyway?

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