Physically developing into a woman at a younger age than my peers was like shining a spotlight on parts of myself that I would have rather remained hidden. Without a woman to guide me through the changes happening in my body, I once again sought out a surrogate mother.
At this time in the early 80s, single fathers seemed to be a lesser acknowledged thing. And having to raise two daughters without any frame of reference of how a girl develops and what that feels like, it created gaps in understanding my body and that what I was experiencing was a beautiful rite of passage. Instead, it was met with awkwardness, confusion, and embarassment.
All my feminine firsts were experienced without acknowledgement, let alone celebration. In those firsts, I had my first taste of shame as a developing woman. And there was another side to this coin. Developing early also brought attention, but not in any way valuing and honoring my body. It reached a tipping point for me in middle school, by then mostly developed with a young woman’s body but a young girl’s mind.
Being tall and curvy at a young age brought that spotlight I tried to shun a couple years earlier back, but this time cast a deep, dark shadow. I came to dread hallways and sitting near certain boys in class. If it wasn’t physical, it was verbal, and often times both. The one time I spoke up to a teacher about what was happening in class, he only asked if I wanted to move seats. No reprimand or repercussions for the boys, just it falling to me to take precautions.
Of course I moved my seat to the front of the class, but that only made it worse, and never helped in the hallways. I would have one more year until I could leave that school behind and enter into high school.
Around this time also, my Mom left her abusive second marriage and actually moved into the apartment building next to ours. After several attempts to leave him, and several times going back to him in a repeated cycle, she left for good.
I had my Mom back, at least for the moment.