Explaining Broken Homes: From the Innocence of Youth, to Teenage Depression, pt. I

teenage depressionThe Last Broken Home is a little different, I know.  A bit unique, I know.  It’s the result of 23 years of unhappiness, though; of a world I didn’t understand, of a Self I couldn’t stand, of a childhood that taught me all the wrong lessons, and so little of what I needed to survive in a world far more difficult than I could manage then.

It’s the result of simply growing up.  As we all grow up.

So what is it?  What is a broken home…?

The answer’s both simple and complex, really; something perhaps easily explained but not so easily understood.  Unless you’ve lived it.  Unless you’ve experienced it.  Unless you’ve woken everyday knowing that something was off, something was missing; a part of yourself unfulfilled, a piece of yourself incomplete.

The fear and confusion; the desperation and depression; the desire above all else to simply feel and live normally, happily, confidently; to be a better Self.

It’s far more the average person than the rare person, I believe.

And that’s the problem.

That the average teen is not all too thrilled with their place in life, or school, or family at all – cursing their parents often, hating their families at times, wishing above all else they were like someone else, looked like someone else, were someone else; hurting inside, struggling inside, desperate to fit-in in a world they don’t believe they fit into.

And the average adult – walking aimlessly through a life they no longer enjoy, and a job they despise, feeling as if life – to them – is a chore they can’t shake, and a prison they can’t break, a never-ending line of work and bills, work and family, work and bills, and more the same – so far from the life they’d imagined when they were young.

A world of people living depressed – whether ever diagnosed with it or not.  Discontented.  Angry.  Vindictive.  Jealous.  A little messed up.  A little fucked up.  Living as less than their better selves, and oblivious as to why or how it became so – why or how they came to be as they are – so far from the child who once laughed at every simple thing, and smiled at every passing person; who was so happy with so little.

Not someone to truly look up to or emulate, if they were truly honest with themselves.

Not someone they could be fully and completely proud of.

Not their best.

Not happy.

Billions like this, though.

Billions living in sadness – wishing they were someone else, or somewhere else; cursing their fortune, their circumstances, their pasts; the families they have, the friends they don’t have, the people that leave them, or those that never choose them at all.

And because of it – because of all of it –  the world in general isn’t as great as it could be, or should be.

Because we ourselves aren’t as great as we could be, or should be.

And it starts in our childhood.

It starts in the homes where we were taught love or not, forgiveness or not, how to live and deal with life or not.

It begins with the friends we kept, the influences we allowed, the figures in our lives whose words and opinions we took to heart, when we were too young to know otherwise.

It begins in our broken homes.

And to many, that may seem upsetting, or offensive.  And I understand that.  A lot of people – raised in a lot of very good families – would surely disagree.  I know my Mom would be like, “wtf, Adam!?”

But, their minds are referencing a certain definition of “broken home”.  You know…the regular one.

To them, the term understandably conjures certain mental images – of single parent homes or emotional or physical abuses; of kids raised with little or no guidance at all, in conditions unfitting of a human being.

But I think broken homes are so much more than that, really.

And so I’m purposely “misusing” the word.

Cause to me, broken homes aren’t just the most fucked up homes, the most horrid homes, the most criminal homes.

They’re every home.

Lemme explain…

My childhood home – thankfully – didn’t resemble those usual mental images.  I wasn’t raised in a “broken home” in the traditional sense, the kind more likely to produce the 45th prisoner in a chain gang than the 45th President or something.

In fact, it wasn’t like that at all.

I grew up in a two-parent home, in a well-enough sized house, and before that well-enough sized apartments, in the suburbs of a rather affluent area, in the most affluent nation in the world.  I have two parents who love me, and more family than I can count .  I have friends, and an education.

We experienced some serious difficulties, for sure, and in many ways still do.  But no matter how it may have felt at the time, or still feels now, I’m not nearly stupid enough to believe that my story is some sob story.

There weren’t days I went hungry, or nights I waited anxiously for a drunken father to stumble home.  I had no reason to fear our home being repossessed any day, or our family subjected to violence.  I didn’t witness atrocities or genocide, war or hate.  I was never targeted physically because of the color of my skin, or the beliefs of my religion; never made numb to the idea that roadside bombs and suicide bombers were just a way of life in my neighborhood; never in danger of being taken from my home through threat and abuse, to be made into a soldier in a war I had no part in or something.

All of which are things millions of kids must and do worry about or deal with every day – as something normal, as something so usual they know no else, or know of no else.

I mean…it was suburban Virginia.  Not Somalia, or Gaza, or even South Central L.A.

My parents made mistakes with me, as all parents do, but they’ve done more for me than I will ever know, and endured and sacrificed tremendously to provide a future for my brothers, sister, and myself, and I’ll love them forever for it.  Always.

And yet, despite all that – despite all that should have been and was a blessing and an advantage compared to so many countless kids who did without – I still ended up my own kind of messed up.  I still ended up a loser and depressed.  I still hated most others, my life, my self.

And there’s something so very wrong about that.

There’s something very wrong that that shit’s way too common.

It’s too regular.  It’s too average.  It’s too normal, here on this earth.

And so, when I say we are all the product of broken homes, it’s not an indictment on parenting specifically, or disadvantageous circumstances alone, but of all that shapes and surrounds us in our youth; of family and friends, neighborhoods and nations, religions and cultures.

It’s the acknowledgment that most who walk this earth are less than they are capable of, and must have become so somehow.

Because we aren’t born that way.

We aren’t born sad, and sorry, and depressed

My brother and sister-in-law recently brought a baby girl into the world, and she’s super cute obviously.

But when you hold a baby, when you watch them look up at you – at everything – in complete amazement, you can’t help but be in awe at how utterly perfect they are, how miraculous their very existence is; the result of two people who love each other, of the flawless division of one cell into billions, of a process which took thousands of years to evolve, and science which took hundreds of years to perfect.

teenage depressionYet when I look into my niece’s eyes, I also see that which few recognize, or care to verbalize: that one day this little girl, who is so perfect and so loved now, will feel inadequate and undeserving; that she will at times be depressed and lonely, hopeless and confused; that she will be picked on and ridiculed and will likely do the same to others.  Her parents will yell at her and she will do the same.  Both will say things they wish they hadn’t, and will do damage they wish they could undo.  She will suffer and feel pain.  She will cause the same in others who do not deserve it, and allow it from those who do not deserve her.  She will lie and cheat.  She will hate.

Who amongst us, if any, looks upon any adult as we look upon a newborn?  Who sees that same perfection of infancy in the grocer, the neighbor, the trucker; or your parents, your siblings, your partner?

It almost seems ridiculous, right?

Laughable even.

Because most become so utterly imperfect.  They become as we all become.  Because it happens to us all, it seems.

From that baby – perfect, innocent, and so completely incapable of wrong, who owns no part of the insanity and madness which is the rest of the world – from that baby, we become sad, sorry, scared, and stupid, in a way.  We become the dysfunction that is the world – the vengeance and cruelty, the bigotry and hate.

You needn’t be some kind of monster or whatever to be a part of the greater problem; to own some share.  Cause even the simplest of cutting words prove it.  We’re all a bit guilty.  We all have our small part – our mistakes, our hatreds, our small sins against others, against ourselves.

 

The Effect of Youth

I know some will disagree.  You may have had loving parents.  You may even have had a wonderful childhood.  Or maybe the complete oppposite.  But regardless of the size, quality, or love of our families and those close to us, we assuredly learned behaviors, thought processes, and belief systems in our youth which proved insufficient later in life, when problems mounted, when dreams died, when the rosy view of the world shown in our childhood proved a thing of fantasy.

How else could so many people be stuck in worthless relationships?  Or scared to leave the job they hate, or follow the path they dream; choosing instead the life they hate over the life they fear?

How are they unable to stop caring what others think about them, or say to them; doing and living instead as others tell them they must, or insist they should – just cause they just wanna be liked?

How are so many just entirely unwilling to make the changes in their life they KNOW they need, though they feel and live the pain of their inaction every day?

Do you believe these people ever really learned the proper way to live?  Do you think they learned how to take the life they’re given and make into it the life they want?  Do you think they ever learned happiness?

No.

To the greatest extent, we are the effect of the affect of our youth.  From our earliest days to this very day we have been shaped as the wind shapes the dune – sand by sand, little by little.  And like the sand, grain by grain we drift away.

We lose our Selves.

We come from homes where we were, at times, wrongly discouraged when excited, wrongly blamed when innocent, wrongly lied to when we would have easily understood and greatly appreciated the truth.

We were given a model of the world as it was experienced and learned by others of equally broken homes.  We were crippled by the limiting beliefs and moralities of parents who knew no better, of friends who were as immature as us, of a society less interested in nurturing healthy minds than in producing productive hands.

We were made inferior by forced comparisons to siblings and friends who never asked to become a standard, and made desperate by our own innate desire to please and be loved by those around us.

It is no one’s fault usually, but the cruel irony remains…

We suffer today because at our most impressionable age we were children.

We were taught to live when we were least prepared to live; taught useless facts and dates when what we needed was wisdom; taught how to make a life in a society that values sameness, instead of how to find an identity in ourselves that we’d value.

And every day since we’ve suffered the consequences.

We were born in dysfunction, raised in dysfunction, and thus live in dysfunction.

We are all the product of broken homes.  We all bear scars of our youth.

Every “home” is a broken home, by this standard.  Every home can harm a lifetime.  Every childhood does some damage.

Some, of course, far worse than others.

It is up to us, though – through our own struggle and journey – to fix what’s been done, to come to terms with ourselves, with our lives, and with this world.

It’s up to us, then, to make our home the last broken home.

And it’s my hope that this site is able to help you, and help myself, take those steps together…

What Next?

If you enjoyed the article I ask you to please CLICK TO TWEET IT!  Share and comment below.

___

Now, if you’re ready, continue to PART TWO…

Explaining Broken Homes: From the Innocence of Youth, to Teenage Depression, pt. II

About Adam Austyn

Adam is the founder of, and principal contributor to, The Last Broken Home, a site dedicated to the journey from teen depression to self esteem, as well as the effect, nature, and problems of our youth. If you're cool too, follow him on TWITTER and FACEBOOK!

8 Responses to Explaining Broken Homes: From the Innocence of Youth, to Teenage Depression, pt. I

  1. Michelle says:

    Great article. I was particularly inspired by your statement about personal accountability for our lives. Thanks for reminding the reader that our past doesn’t have to dictate our future. If we truly grasp that concept, what a powerful tool for change it can be!

  2. Mira Faraday says:

    Adam,
    The grace within of your words on your site are empowering and essential for our youth of today. Our world is changing, opportunities available at this time with the economics as well are adding stress to our youth along with all the other associated issues that happen during the teen years that come into play with fitting in to social circles.
    I commend you for speaking out and sharing your story and for reaching out to help others such as the teen, parents, grandparents as well as extended families that may be involved with raising a child that is not their birth child but those of us whom step up to make a difference for the life of a child and want to so badly make a difference for that child.
    Please keep the faith and continue with your sharing and passionate desire to help awaken and create change! My hat is off to you!
    Many smiles and my best to you this day and as well as a very bright future ahead of you as well that is successfully bright.
    Yours,
    Mira Faraday

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Mira, thanks. Definitely appreciate the very kind words and I’m glad you find it helpful. Mostly I just ramble whatever I’m thinking, haha.

  3. dan dekker says:

    What a great post on teen depression. I have been searching the web for 3 hours and came across your excellent article. You have very viable information and i will be checking your posts regularly for updates. Keep up the great work!

  4. Madison says:

    I burst into tears during the part about how that innocent little baby girl will feel insecure and inadequate someday.

    It’s so weird that you said that because I sometimes find myself thinking the same things when I look at a little kid who is just so happy and excited about everything, surrounded by love and people “oohing and ahhing” over them. And then I think about how I used to be the same way and how people used to ooh and ahh over ME. And now I’m the awkward girl sitting by herself at family gatherings, lucky to get an acknowledging glance in my direction and cringing at disapproving comments about the way I’m living my life or the career I’m pursuing.

    You’re right. We do all come from broken homes (I know I do) and we’ve all been shaped by our experiences and our pain. I’m slowly trying to learn and grasp the message of this whole website—That who I was or who I am doesn’t have to be who I will be.

    ~ Madison :)

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Oh no. Don’t cry, please. It’s not so real as that ;)

      And I used to think much the same thing just watching others. I think a lot of this site, though the articles vary in topics, is about the importance of looking around you and finally seeing what you couldn’t or refused to see before, and then turning that attention within, to shed light on what you thought you knew of yourself and your life.

      When you look at others, at how people treat each other and treat themselves, you learn about yourself. I’m glad, then, to see your looking too. Thanks for reading, Madison. I really appreciate it.

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