Baby Boomers love to shit on the Millennials. They say we’re lazy narcissists who are fucked up because we have Instagram applications on our iPhones. This is obviously stupid, but it’s also obvious that the Millennials are a screwed generation. Over 5 million young people struggle to find work. Seven out of ten Americans use drugs, with a particularly high rate among young people. There are 10,000 homeless young people in Los Angeles County alone.
Why is this happening? Time magazine claims I’m the poster child for all things awful and 20, but I don’t know. I’m certainly not a sociologist. But what I can tell you is what is wrong with me. After a stint in jail and a year of court-mandated rehab, I have developed a little self-awareness. Want to know how a 19-year-old becomes a junkie, addicted to the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood lifestyle? Here’s how.
I was selfish and immature. (Refer to any episode of Pretty Wild for examples of this. Really, any episode will do.) It didn’t matter if my attorney said I shouldn’t go to Mexico because I had court in the morning—if I wanted to go to Mexico, I was going to Mexico. I did not handle the word no. I’m sure this immature behavior was connected to my inability to cope with traumatic childhood events—after all, drugs killed the pain associated with reflecting on my well-documented teenage problems—but my intuition told me there was more to my problems. So I called Bob Forrest to ask him what he thought was the root of my problems.
You may know Bob as the counselor from Celebrity Rehab who wore the floppy hat over his crazy red hair. He’s one of the finest drug counselors in the world—a punk-rock sage who calls it like he sees it—and also one of my close friends. Whenever I’m in doubt and need the straight goods, I call Bob.
“Parents are supposed to prepare you to know how to live in the world, not make life easy for you, not be your friend, not be your confidant. They’re supposed to simply guide, protect, and mentor you, and prepare you for the world,” Bob said. “And most of this 20-something generation’s parents did not do that. And now it’s coming back to haunt the parents and kids.” He paused. “Alexis, you’re not going to want to say it, but do you think you were raised right?
I was in shock, but the more I thought about Bob’s words, the more I realized he had a point. Recently, after I asked my mom, “Why didn’t you teach me any life skills?” she said, “You learn life skills in school.” My mom didn’t learn how to balance a checkbook until she was in her late 30s. She let me smoke weed, encouraged me to take pole-dancing lessons, and let me throw parties in her house. My mom and I were in the friend-zone. We were a low-rent Dina and Lindsay Lohan, and had been for years.
My mom has a defense for this. A few weeks ago, Bob and I had lunch with my mom, and she told him she “did the best that I could under the circumstances.” I asked Bob about this, and he didn’t buy it. “There are a million things she could have done,” he said. “She did what she did. It was convenient. It wasn’t challenging. She didn’t put you in daycare, go to college, and get a real job. You know what I mean?”
But I can’t fully blame my mother either. She grew up in a cold, strict household, where emotional connections were few and far between, and after her mother died (when I was about ten), she decided parenting was about “love.” I’m no psychologist, but maybe she needed our love to replace the love of her mother. It’s nutty to think if you love your child and she loves you back, your child will turn out okay, but my mother genuinely believed the universe would provide for us if we just loved each other and created vision boards.
She parented me with the best intentions, and for years that’s what I thought mattered. When I started to get the hang of recovery, I saw blaming my mother as an easy excuse. So I forgave her. But how could I really forgive the mother I love if I didn’t understand what she had done wrong?
I’m speaking publically about this, because my relationship with my mother isn’t an isolated phenomenon. My gay bff’s Instagram bio describes himself as a [sic] “23 year old stay at home son” who likes “long walks to the refrigerator” and his dog. In Los Angeles, this is normal. Sixth-grade kids are given $1,000 handbags, 16-year-olds receive luxury cars for their birthdays, and college grads voluntarily return home after college. And why would they leave home, when at home they can do drugs every three months and then get sent to fancy rehab complete with acupuncture, massage, chef-prepared meals—all paid for by their parents?
I know many American 20-somethings didn’t grow up like this. America is a country with a class system; there is a first-class, business, and economy class on an airplane for a reason. I didn’t grow up flying first class, but I inherited my irresponsibility and entitlement from somewhere. Instead of wasting paper on articles about millennials’ relationships to our phones, magazines might want to take a closer look at the Baby Boomers that raised us. If we examine their mistakes, we might be able to solve our generation’s problem and raise our children with an understanding of the middle ground between discipline and love.
Alexis is a drug and alcohol counselor. She works at her husband’s sober living facility,‘Acadia Malibu.’ She is presently working on a memoir and raising her beautiful baby, Harper. She is almost three years sober.
Previously – Alexis Neiers’s Pretty Wild Road to Recovery