’13 Reasons Why’. Wow, just wow. A new TV series that I feel is a must watch for everyone. A must stop, a must consider, a must discuss and a must ‘teach our youth’ series on topics that culturally we generally shy away from but seriously, need to start facing head on. Particularly as our youth dive further into an era of cyber bullying and face the pressures of ‘sexting’ and sexual ‘exploitation’ online. The part that social media plays with that now and how our youth also have these mediums to now try to ‘fit in’, the extent this plays in what ‘popularity’ is now considered to be and the pressures this creates to find acceptance in a world where we are seemingly more connected, yet understatedly more disconnected then ever before.
A confronting, honest and completely raw look at the lives of some American teenagers faced with conflicts and situations real in today’s world, and how they deal with it individually. It takes on a perspective not explored as deeply before, in my experience. And takes on topics that I’ve never seen depicted on the screen in this way, ever. It has not only made me consider my youth, my now adulthood in light of the fact that I am still here to reflect on that. But it also has me considering life as a Mother. A Mother of a recently graduated prince of childhood, now emerged into teenage hood; hormones, changes, but in all seriousness, could be faced with these similar situations and circumstances, (minus the serious ‘Jock’ mentality, thankfully absent in our Australian high schooling system – in our experience in Brisbane anyway).
As a Parent:
My partner has watched it avidly with me (when he has been awake). His 9 year old son apparently previously watched it with his Mother, (think it may be a tad too ominous for a child of his age). And then my son started watching it near the end, as we all lay down in bed together over the weekend for family snugs, (thankfully our boys haven’t grown out of that yet. Hopefully they never do). And as I finished watching it I knew there wasn’t just a message in this for me as a person, as a parent, but for my son, for all teenagers, all parents. I called my son in to watch a part of ‘Beyond the Reasons’, where the cast and crew were talking about the messages they wanted to deliver and why they didn’t shy away from these confronting topics. I wanted my now teenager to hear their messages. We talked briefly about this and then I asked him to do some homework; watch each episode (which he wanted to do anyway after seeing a couple the night earlier), and after each episode write down any emotions that stirred in him, write at least three points that he learnt from each episode, and any questions he may have had so we can then discuss them.
Why did I do this? There is so much I got out of this series personally. But there is so much a teenager could get out of this in relation to many pressing issues faced in today’s society as a teenager that this delves into; bullying, relationships, lies, friendships, ‘bro code’, sex, parties and so much more. But I can’t tell him what I want him to take away from it, particularly when my little man thinks he knows it all (bless his cotton socks). And realistically what teenager listens to their parent telling them anything anyway?
Catch a fish, the boy will eat for one day. Teach the boy how to fish, he will eat for the rest of his life… By him exploring these episodes in his own time, in his own way, and coming up with his own ideas, messages and theories on life, school and so on, he will get way more out of it, then I could ever tell him. But discussing it after, not only will it give us the opportunity to spend some time together but gives us the ability to be able to discuss some pretty relatable topics for the now. I can reaffirm the support he has at home, in our support network outside of home and we can really get into a good discussion about our thoughts on this, together, without him feeling like I’m interrogating him or directing his life and life choices. This will be the perfect platform to deepen our previous conversations on similar matters and in a more generalised format for openness and greater communication on both parts.
As I neared the end of the series though, there were many tears. And so much that I took out of it, so much that I was able to reflect upon. Tears flowed as I recalled my youth; as I recalled my troubled years and my abuse. Thankfully there were only tears and no pain now. Tears flowed for the one time I bullied a young man during my tumultuous, rage driven time in junior high school and feeling grateful that he was stronger than I clearly was then.
Tears flowed as I recalled my experiences that led me to feel like leaving this place on Earth was the only option a few times in my own life. Tears flowed for feeling grateful that on the two attempts I had made, that my result was different. Tears flowed for my little man that saved me and made me so determined to change after the last time I ever felt that burden, that despair, that overpowering darkness. The last time I ever considered that option, I made the decision to do everything in my power to get the strength I needed to build the life I knew he deserved, and to draw from whatever reserve necessary to make sure I wasn’t selfish in wanting my own pain to stop, for his benefit. To ensure I never left him alone, on my own accord. He deserved much better than that. And for that, he was my first Earth angel, who more than once, pulled me back down to reality, straight to him and his needs. Tears flowed because I chose life, and even though it was for my son at the time, I made that decision and stuck to it. And tonight was the first time I had thought about that in a very long time. Tears flowed because I could have missed all of this, all because the darkness was so thick, dense and hollow, all at the same time. That in those moments, I could not imagine that it could get better, and did not believe it would either.
The tears flowed because now I live a truly beautiful, uplifting, enlightening life surrounded by beauty, love and incredible support. I have so much to be grateful for. And the darkness that once consumed my life, eventually became my greatest comfort and gave me an unwavering strength and perseverance that I now know I can and will achieve anything I put my mind to. I now dedicate my life to helping others choose life and live the life they truly deserve. Help people get through the moments in their life that seem like too much. And I am living, breathing proof of having been served a ‘hard’ life, of making bad decisions, of people taking advantage of me, of being hurt to the point where the pain feels like it’s seeping through every vein, of being depressed. I am living proof that it all starts with a choice to be here, no matter what happens or stands in our way.
I don’t know why I started watching this series. I certainly didn’t have the time to dedicate a week to it while renovating a bathroom, seeing clients, working my other business, studying for my Trainer’s Training, while still managing to be a partner, friend, Mother and Step Mother. But I was drawn to it and it was obviously something I was meant to experience. Something I was meant to reflect on, as that is not an area I have reflected on deeply before.
It’s interesting how life draws us in, directs us to things that impact, influence and encourage our lives, isn’t it? Though sometimes, it doesn’t feel that positive or straight forward. It doesn’t feel like it’s for a ‘reason’, for a purpose of discovery, self engagement or preservation. It’s fascinating how we are pulled into certain things that help shape our journey, good or bad, give us knowledge, experience and awareness to empower our growth and evolution. Yet sometimes, at the time, it feels like the worst thing in the world. Like so much has been taken away from us in that moment, (and this can relate to many things, not just abuse), that how can we ever be the same again. How can we face the world again. How are we meant to live another day, the same person. The truth is, we never can. We never can or will be the same person ever again. Nor should we have to be. We are and will continue to be reborn, in this life, in the next, time and again, but only from the strength, perseverance, choices and decisions we make in those darkest hours that there is more to life than this, if we so chose it. In the knowing that there has to be more to life than this. That ‘this can’t just be it’ and searching, asking, doing more, to find more, that is the only way to turn the dark into light, existing into living, pain into happiness, loneliness into love.
Today, as I appreciate the life I have now, the amazing journey I have explored, faltered and manouvered through, I thank every single person who has been there on this incredible journey with me; past and present, good and bad and everywhere in between. You all gave me something, a little slice of life, even if I didn’t know what it was at the time.
Thank you for all the special people throughout my life, that supported me immensely, gave me a roof over my head, fed me, laughed with me, cried with me, picked me up when I feel, and particularly those who showed incredible patience with me in some instances. A special thank you to the beautiful girls, who at the time, actually walked in the darkness with me, until I was ready to face the light in my own time. Jake saved me once, you saved me then. I will be forever thankful for all you gave me in those moments. I will be forever grateful for every single person that has contributed to making my life what it is today.
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