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Updated: Dec 6, 2019

A photo series discussing generational traditions and setbacks experienced on the path of a young person navigating adulthood. Realizing traumas passed on and recovering from the mistakes of a conditioned mind.

004 Bridget

Were you taught to self-love? How do you feel this has affected coming into your own as an adult?

"Dude, I feel like I was taught self hate. At least that’s all I can see when looking back; body criticism, physical abuse... It feels busted to say because I know my mom was doing her best, but uh... yeah truly no. I had a rough childhood and was a REAL self hating mess because of it, but I also have had the amazing privilege of access to years of intense therapy. I still don’t know what self-love even means. Its like standing tall against a Goliath in a world that always wants me to feel like I’m not enough with what I have and who I am, in any given moment. Capitalism, you know? I feel good most days. I love myself and want better for myself. And it’s hard to sometimes sit with how good things actually are. Instead of focusing on the next goal, next milestone, and what’s next. I respect myself these days, though."

Do you feel like your cultural upbringing in America hindered your ability to feel confidence?

"So, my mom is this really emotionally and out of touch Irish Catholic. Feelings are uncomfortable. Let’s not even go there. Barely says "I love you." Then my dad felt to me like an emotional volcano, volatile and violent. Not feeling like it was okay to talk about feelings is out of control unhealthy. That shit literally kills people. There’s a history of unhealthy coping skills; drinking, eating disorders... I feel confident in myself in some ways, and really not in others. I wish I could handle school. The northeast feels really academically driven, and I’m a college drop out. That shit literally doesn’t matter, but sometimes I think about the versions of myself I’ll never unlock."

How has the expectation of growing up in your families household affected how you interact with love interest?

"Oh my god, there are so many cycles I am actively refusing to perpetuate. My grandfathers were violent and drunk, dad was violent, my stepdad was violent. That shit ends with me. Macho bullshit is far from cute and thank god I'm not attracted to that. I’m traumatized. Even like the yelling that comes with no fault shit like stubbing your toe, I really can’t handle. In my current relationship we communicate the best we can, we compromise, we share, we help each other, we show affection, and we express gratitude. The first and last are most important. But, you know we fall short. Unlearning is constant and I feel like the real test would come if I ever had kids of my own. That’s when you’re really faced with the real decision making. Are you going to do what you were taught, or what you know is better but maybe harder?"

Do you feel like past mistakes have any influence on some insecurities you may feel today? How did you recover from them?

"You know I feel like this question touches on a lot of things that are so central to my story. I was a mess for a really long time. I coped with life with drugs, and I coped with my feelings by burying them. That shit works, and if it didn’t then so many of us wouldn’t do it. So, when I got my head out of my ass and started processing my past by learning coping skills it felt like I had to play catch up. Like I said I’m lucky to be so therapized, but also the regular ass growing up that comes from just time was a big factor. I still catch my mom looking at me in this suspicious way. It drives me insane. I feel like I have to do extra well to not just make up for my past, but to prove that I’m doing better. For what it’s worth, I’m aware of how unhealthy all that is. The truth needs no explanation. Life milestones are not real life. So many people in my generation can’t afford having kids and buying houses (or don’t see the point on a dying planet), so all that heteronormative capitalist white picket fence la la feels out the window. Maybe."

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