Embarrassing Childhood By D.I. Jolly

I used to think I had an embarrassing childhood. Then I moved away from home for university and realised I just had really bad parents. They liked to use shame as a weapon to try to make me behave, by their definition of how a child should behave anyway. If I tried to show off my personality and intellect by talking to people at events of social gatherings. The next day I would be told how ashamed they were with me; how uncomfortable everyone was by my actions and how they could ‘never show their faces in public again.’

Then I went out on my own, met people who, in my extremely shelter opinion, were way worse than me. It took some time and a guy named Josh, but I eventually learned that what I had been told was the worst things worst thing, was pretty normal and that I actually wasn’t a hideous uncultured mess of a human being. Josh helped me find myself and learn that embarrassment wasn’t death and that people could like me. He also thought me how to drink, how to be hungover, and how to have the confidence to wear my mistakes like a badge of honour. When he spoke about the things he got up to as a child I still cringed, but less and less. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time he told me how he got so drunk at a Christmas party when he was only thirteen, and vomited over someone’s shoulder when hugging them goodbye, casually announced,

“And not a drop on you, admit it, you’re impressed.”

And then passed out. He tells that story in a way that makes a room burst out laughing, I want to die just thinking about it. In comparison the time I had half a glass of wine at sixteen, felt sick at a party and vomited quietly in the bathroom and then had to be taken home only to be told that everyone would now think I was an alcoholic and that I needed to write the host a formal apology really didn’t seem that bad.

The biggest problem was I still wanted to love my parents. I wanted to understand them and make excuses for them in my head, try to tell myself that they were just doing their best and that not everything was bad. But the more I opened up about them the more shocked everyone around me became. Until the day I simply had to admit that they were horrible people who set out to manipulate me and weren’t doing it for my best interest but their own with no regard for me. It was that day when I cried on Josh’s shoulder for an hour. My heart broke and the weight of my ‘embarrassing childhood’ hit me. It was also the day when I slipped out of the dorm in the middle of the night, got into my car and drove home. I needed to confront my parents, and hear their side of the story. The drive was long and it gave me a lot of time to think about everything, over and over again. When I finally arrived it was just before sunrise I knew there was only one sane thing I could do.

When the police and fire department arrived an hour later I was sitting in my father’s favourite chair on the lawn roasting marshmallows. They tasted a bit strange because of the smoke from all the burning carpet, but I did feel a lot better.

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