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#286016 - 05/01/09 10:32 PM When does adutlhood begin?
jls Offline

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
I've been struggling with something that my counsellor and I have been working on recently, namely she is trying to get me to see myself as a kid rather than as an adult when the unwanted sexual experiences and other abuse happened. I guess this is hard for me since I wasn't a child per se when it happened but a 16 year old trying to survive on the streets. Perhaps this makes it even harder to define the lines so to speak. Maybe I struggle with this since because I was surviving on my own that I became an adult in that situation, in my own mind anyways. I'm sure lots of others here felt they had to grow up fast too, but does that mean you really were? For a 9 or ten year obviously no but for me as a teenager this is more difficult to reconcile right now. I also have a difficult time remembering what it felt like to be a child. I suppose its easier to view oneself as being in charge and in control with all the power that comes with being an adult rather than feeling small + vulnerable, but on the other hand today I feel like I am going on 100 years old, which is honestly starting to wear me out.

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

#286031 - 05/02/09 12:31 AM Re: When does adutlhood begin? [Re: jls]
ericc Offline

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 1986
I'd say that at 16 living on the street you are still a kid. Sure, you had to grow up in certain ways to survive but in the end you were still a kid developmentally. I understand where you are coming from, thinking "hey, at that age I should have been able to prevent it" or whatever. But you were still a kid. I don't know the details of your story, but I will say with certainty you were not an adult at that age.

#286032 - 05/02/09 12:46 AM Re: When does adutlhood begin? [Re: ericc]
king tut Offline

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2488
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: jls
When does adulthood begin?

Interesting. My first thought would be "when you are ready".

But of course, many of us are forced into seeing more of the world than we are ready for anyway.

Does that mean adulthood begins? no, i don't think so. Struggling to survive on the streets may mean you have adult things to deal with, but you were not ready, you were not an adult, you were still young and developing in many ways.

In the end it comes to how you chose to define adulthood. Responsibilities? sure, you had those. Was it wrong that you had to have all those responsibilities with such little life experience and guidance? definitely. Maybe adulthood is marked not by the responsibilities placed upon you, but your readyness for those responsibilities through life experience and guidance.

Anyway, i don't think i have to explain how a kid or young adult is vulnerable to this kind of abuse, and even so, full grown adults can find themselves vulnerable to this kind of abuse too.

#286043 - 05/02/09 02:16 AM Re: When does adutlhood begin? [Re: king tut]
jls Offline

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
The interesting thing for me is that because of my past experience I've been ready for the most intense things since then.

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

#286094 - 05/03/09 12:33 AM Re: When does adutlhood begin? [Re: jls]
DannyT Offline

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 645
I think adulthood is not so much an age thing as a centeredness thing. When one is stable in one's self and able to see from multiple perspectives easily and without fear, then I think one is an adult.

To me it is maturity, not of age but of spirit.

I also think it is possible to revert from adulthood to childhood and back.


#286118 - 05/03/09 09:24 AM Re: When does adutlhood begin? [Re: jls]
Sans Logos Offline

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5796
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
for a teen, yes it would be difficult to reconcile, because upon entering puberty when you begin to encounter the sexual realm for the first time, with all of its release of hormones and new brain changes, you would naturally feel complicit in a sexual experience, even if is something you enjoyed doing at the hands of your abuser. sex feels good. period.

but i think in your case, it is more a degree of responsibility. would you agree that you were in survival mode when you allowed these things to occur?

i could certainly say putting myself in a situation where i was raped a knifepoint was my fault. my own little legs carried me right into it, even though i was not expecting the circumstances to unfold as they did. i feel lucky to be alive.

but what i understand for today is that my propensity for staging my life in such a manner happened far earlier than my teenage years when i would be introduced to the delights of sexual feeling. after my older brother sexually initiated me, it became my 'meal' ticket for having my appetite sated. don't make the mistake i did and confuse want and need here. i needed love, but i used sex to buy it.

no, we did not create the circumstances under which we were abused, that happened during our formative years by circumstances beyond our control as we were left to respond to the haphazard manner in which our deepest needs failed to be met by our earliest nurturers.

i am not looking to point fingers of blame at anyone. in many cases these people who raised us were just broken people as well, doing their level best as children raising other children.

what i am getting at is that you most likely had less autonomy than you imagine. you most likely were being driven to act by the undertow of your unmet implicit needs striving to find a way to be satisfied, yet you did not realize it at the time.

if you are anything like me, you were a puppet of your own unmet needs and desires, and in that regard you were not responsible for your actions and behaviors at the time.

please give yourself forgiveness and permission to move on and let your young self catch up with the rest of you, and tell that parent inside of you to slow down fer pete's sake.


Ron Schulz, MSPC, NCC


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