Oh, how I have been dreading writing about this chapter of my life. Even after so
many years, it is painful to remember. I can philosophize now and understand how the
decisions we make can have a profound effect on our future life . . . especially the
momentary missteps that come with youth and innocence and affect our ability to mature
with confidence. We can forgive ourselves and move on, but that doesn’t make the
memories of such events disappear. I am a grown woman with a fabulous life today, but I
remember with clarity how a single traumatic experience caused me such mental and
emotional distress, it shook the very ground I walked on.
It was so painful; I was ashamed to share it with anyone. I lived with a sense of
shame and self-doubt for months. It haunted me day and night and almost destroyed my
interest in maintaining relationships with members of my family and friends for fear I’d
say something and reveal something evil about myself.
Coming “of age” for a girl in the fifties was as difficult as it was for young women
from any previous decade, especially when hormones are raging and the desire to be a
self-reliant adult is so strong. I definitely found it complicated. Young women then
tended to be less aggressive and more subservient, because they had their mothers and
grandmothers as models. I was raised to be a conservative, well-mannered and upright
girl, one who wouldn’t bring shame to the family (even though the latter rule didn’t
extend to a few men in our family). Beverly Hills High School students were more
progressive in their thinking and the boys were more than willing to let their own
hormones rule their bodies. They were as aggressive then as they are today. How far is
the girl willing to go? Was their mantra, I learned very quickly that the best way to avoid
being tested was to remain a buddy, not a date.
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