While watching teen movies I often find myself sad.

As my daughter nears her teens I find myself struggling more and more.

It is baffling why teen years are such an issue for me. Then, when I reflect, I realize why. My teen years were the worse years for me!

Some may think my late 20’s to early 30’s might have been my hardest and most traumatizing due to the abuse sustained through my marriage, but that is not true.

Truth be told, it is a miracle I made it through my teens.

I have had many “phases” of things I was into once I hit preteen years. The earliest I can recall is New Kids On The Block (namely Jordan Knight and Donnie Walburg).

Next was Elvis Presley (I can’t apologize enough to my mom and sister for watching Elvis and me numerous times a day and breaking down into tears each time).

Heavy metal and hair bands would come next as I entered my teen years. At this point anxiety, depression and PTSD were already present in my life. Confusion and bad memories rocked my world.

I would cry in my room for hours, dabbled in cutting and would burn my hand with a lighter to name a few things. It was a very dark time as I questioned my existence. I didn’t want to live, but was afraid to die.

The haunting of sexual abuse and bullying became too overwhelming for me. I could care less for school and jumped at the opportunity to home school when it was offered after being diagnosed with Malignant Hyperthermia at 16 (end of grade 10 year).

As the thoughts of suicide came more and more, and my emotions got worse my parents were unable to help because I had no way of opening up to them because of my own personal feelings of shame.

I had been put on prozac at 12 thanks to a mis diagnosis by a psychiatrist of a dual personality disorder. Being on prozac at such a critical time in my life (puberty and development age) I ended up gaining weight and became zombified.

One weekend I babysat for a family member and it would be a changing moment in time for me. They were big into watching wrestling on the weekend. I scoffed at the idea. I’d been exposed to wrestling a few times growing up.

I recall the Hogan/Bundy feud, the Mega Powers union and Hogan in general.

At this point it was 1993, leading up to WrestleMania 9.

As I am cracking jokes about wrestling, on came the man that would be the reason for my life game changer. I was in awe and could barely speak to ask who he was.

There he was, sitting in his father’s study with the championship over his shoulder talking about his upcoming match with his opponent for the belt at WrestleMania.

I managed to be able to ask who he was.  The answer was “oh, that’s just Bret The Hitman Hart”. My response was “just…” In shock of the lack of excitement for telling me who he was.

Shockingly I forgot his name until I was able to ask again the next time I babysat. After that I was sure to tune in to watch the shows, I don’t think I babysat again after that.

Saturday night Calvacade would be the main show I would tune in to.

I had a reason to fight for another week, the chance to see Bret on tv.

Soon once a week wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted to see everything I could of him. My parents started renting me older VHS tapes from Jumbo video. Old Wrestle Manias, Summer Slams, Survivor Series, Royal Rumbles, and whatever else they had.

I had a hard time sleeping at night, so I would watch the videos through the night. I found other greats that I adored, Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth, Roddy Piper, Mean Gene, The Rockers, Koko B. Ware, etc etc.

There was a flea market in Welland at the time and I would get old wrestling magazine .25 or 5/$1. It was there I would meet one of my oldest dearest friends Mandy. We shared a love for wrestling. She adored Shawn Michaels though, so when him and Bret wrestled things got interesting.

I had soaked in so much wrestling history from 1986 through to 1993 I could have won any trivia challenge around. The first wrestling show I ever attended was at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum. May 23, 1993. Main event was Lex Luger vs Bret Hart. My sister took me and we had awesome floor aisle seats 8 rows from the ring!

I even remember what I wore!

My parents completely supported my new love for wrestling. They bought me wrestling items for Christmas and birthdays, WWF magazine subscriptions, old magazines, new magazines (PWI, Inside Wrestling, WCW, etc), PPV’s and more.

I asked them later why they did that. They were no longer together but both had the same answer, they seen the difference, how happy it made me.

There were many wrestlers I would become enchanted with over the next few years. I didn’t understand what it was about them, or the wrestling in general I was enamoured with. I am not one to condone fighting or aggression, but there was something different. The talent of these athletes to do what they were doing while trying to tell a story was amazing.

They were strong, fearless, sure of what they wanted…everything I wasn’t.

Wrestling was there at a time I truly needed it to be.

6 years to the day of my first live wrestling show, would be the horrible death of one of the most amazing men and wrestlers there was. Something died in me as well that day. My love for this “sport” became altered and I could no longer bring myself to turn it on.

From then a part of me seemed lost, but it would eventually be rejuvenated through local wrestling promotions.

The WWF/E got too big and full of itself, caring more for the almighty dollar than the talent and fans that made it what it is.

Seeing the indy wrestlers give their all and interact with the fans reminded me of being a teen and going to house shows, meeting so many greats out back.

The wrestlers in the WWE owe so much to the amazing greats who broke themselves so they can live their dreams.

I find myself hurting with every death of one of the greats I watched as a teen. I am grateful for each and every one of them. They were there, and didn’t even know it, in a time I needed something the most.

They essentially saved my life.

A huge part of me always wanted to be a part of it all.

When I found out about the Malignant Hyperthermia being a wrestler was not an option, but I did dream of being a manager, following in the foot steps of greats like Elizabeth, Sherry, Woman, etc. unfortunately between the prozac, depression and physical limitations of the MH I never had the proper look. I was too big to stand beside the ring.

I had the wonderful opportunity to join an upstart indy promotion, behind the scenes. I was slightly living the dream, but it took it’s toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally through my abusive marriage blowing up and ending, becoming a single mother of two, physical overall pain due to Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome Hyper Mobility Type (which was recently discovered that I have), PTSD raging, anxiety overwhelming me and depression literally kicking my butt.

What hurt the most, was feeling like I never mattered when it was all over.

I now sit wondering where the last almost  25 years went.

I now realize in many ways I feel like that lost teen girl, and that’s why I think it’s hard for me to watch the teen movies and see my daughter enter the years that were such a struggle for me in far too many ways.

– Candace