I had barely passed my nineteenth birthday. I was waiting for acceptance letters from universities. I was a band nerd who had attended few parties and spent a good amount of my time going to church and youth group. And now I was seeing two blue lines on a pregnancy test.
I don’t know why I was shocked. Little to no preventative measures had been taken and I knew what I was doing. I had experienced an odd tingle at what I imagine is the moment of fertilization that had tipped me off. Yet those two blue lines knocked me to the ground where I bawled my eyes out. These types of things don’t happen to girls like me, I thought. I was pretty sure I was invincible and untouchable to the things that brought a teenage girl’s world crashing down even though I always flirted with that line of “don’t go there”. Taking risks and being adventurous were awesome! – as long as I didn’t get caught.
Ask my parents – I always have learned the hard way.
My recipe for messiness? I was completely insecure and found my identity in being the girlfriend of so-and-so. I was nothing if I didn’t belong to someone. I felt like I was free falling and completely ungrounded if I wasn’t involved in a relationship. You know, I was going to marry my boyfriend eventually – we were totally in love – so it was *really* ok to be doing the things I was doing. Was life not was like a television show where problems were cleaned up in 22 minutes?! It all worked out for David and Donna!! (People use to comment I looked like Jennie Garth – I blame them for my delusions).
Looking back now, there were also some mental health issues going on during those years that were beyond just feeling insecure. Perfectionism, poor body image and disordered eating started to surface and affect my patterns of thinking. I lacked the tools to process intense emotions and would turn to self-destructive behaviour in order to gain a sense of control over my life.
My good girl image was important to me and now I was exposed. My swollen belly was on display to the world like a sign over me stating “Yep, she screwed up”. Shame was my constant companion and, at the time, I felt like I deserved it.
Nine months after taking that test, a healthy baby girl was born and my identity shifted solely to being a mother. I put school on the back burner and concentrated all of my time and efforts into learning about being a good parent and fulfilling that role. I devoured books, participated in MOP groups and started to root my identity in God.
Almost 20 years later I have realized that my recipe for messiness hasn’t changed a whole lot. I am still pretty insecure. When I became a young and unmarried teenager I somehow came to believe I no longer had the right to say anything about anything because I had messed up. My opinions no longer had merit. I was damaged goods and my mistakes negated my value as a human. No one ever told me this wasn’t true.
So I am writing now because I want those young moms-to-be out there to know that you are not sub par. You are still precious and worthy and valued by God just as you were yesterday, last year and from the time you were conceived. We are all still human with the same value to our voice and contributions.
Which means, daughter of mine, that you can still change the world.