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MY STORY- This is only the beginning. Part 1

The church we have considered our church home for some time often has people give their testimonies. They call it "MY STORY". They value transparency. The point of this blog is to tell the story of how i got pregnant the first time. It's the start of my testimony, but it's also important for my personal growth, as I still continue to process and struggle through the results of my decisions at that time. My hope for my readers is that it sheds light on how you can talk to your teens. Of course, the biggest teacher for me was having vivid memories myself.

I will preface this by saying that as I describe MEMORIES, some of the memories are straight out of my teen-age brain at the time, and were i to experience them now, i would most likely encounter a different perception. Nonetheless, these experiences have shaped who i am and make me into the person that I am today.

I will call this Scene #1. I am in 7th grade. My main priority at the time was to be accepted by my peers. In reality, I was a tall, awkward girl with a horrible perm and haircut, way too boy crazy, and add in a few blooming hormones. My main memory of this time was arguing with my parents over my need for some designer label or "cool clothes." This, of course, was probably typical and recurring. But in one argument in particular, I remember crying, "I just want to be popular!" and my parents, not really in touch with my plight, told me, "Well, if your only concern is to be popular, then we haven't raised you right!" That may be true, but raised under a bit of 2nd generation Catholic guilt, and still wanting my parents' approval, I took it as though I was the one at fault for not "getting the message" and felt ashamed of my 'wrong' desires or priorities. Needless to say, I learned that approaching my parents to either understand or support my need to fit in with my peers was no longer an option for me.

As i grew older, it also became apparent to me that gushing over a guy or confessing my crushes was taboo in my family. I was given plenty of rules, not really understanding the reasons for them, and frankly, not feeling as though I had parents who understood me. The main rule for dating was that I was not allowed on "a date" until age 16. After that, dating/boyfriends (synonymous) were fair game. Guidelines given for who to date were mostly handed down through my interactions at church. "Date only those who could make a good mate", meant in order for a boyfriend to be 'approved' he had to be a church going "Christian". On my sixteenth birthday, I went on a date with my current "boyfriend" at the time, a 19 year old!!....but he was after all, a Christian. He actually broke up with me because knowing that I was a good Christian girl who wanted to be a virgin at marriage, things were getting a little 'hot and heavy' and he didn't want to be the one to de-flower me.

Since I knew so few Christian guys with whom I would consider more than friendship throughout my High School, I steered clear. That didn't mean, however, that my friends and I, to whom these guidelines were given, weren't essentially on the look out for our Christian boyfriend/potential husband. We were. One summer camp, in particular, I attended, had large prayer meetings and people came from all over the country and Canada to worship together. It was a very moving experience. As I often did at church camp, I met a special young man. Long story short, during one of the prayer meetings, I thought "God told me that I was going to marry him." Even now, it is embarrassing to me that I believed this. Or worse, that I was looking for a husband at sixteen!!! My kids now would just laugh at me.

Understanding this mentality is important, because in walks Craig, (name changed for protection, father of my children.) He was a friend of a friend, who encouraged me to go out with him because he was a 'really nice guy' and he was taken with me after seeing me at a car-wash fundraiser. He saw me, I didn't remember him. He was a freshman in college, I was a sophomore in High School. (!!??). As he stood by my locker, waiting to take me to lunch, I caught a glimpse of him and literally wanted to shrink away, run the other direction. He was a petite, dark skinned guy, who looked 'eager' for lack of a better word. My self consciousness kicked in about my athletic, too-tall body and I knew immediately he wasn't my type. Skin color, however, was never an issue for me, despite being raised in a mostly Anglo community. My mom is Mexican, and raised us to be proud of our Latin heritage. Since he easily recognized me, he started walking toward me. We went to lunch that day (after I grabbed a friend on the way out the door to go with me), and didn't speak to him again. At least for a year.

Now a junior in HS and driving, I saw him one night on "the cruise". He convinced me to allow him to teach me tennis, and I agreed. For 3 weeks, we played tennis and it became apparent to me that he was smitten. The feeling was not mutual. He took me out on a date and then to the river park where I knew he was going to try and "make it official." Planning on saying "NO WAY", his friends showed up and started crashing the date, playing Frisbee above our heads. I couldn't bring myself to say no, to crush his ego in front of his friends. What a mistake! He later took me to an overlook near the freeway and started to maul me with open mouth kisses. I felt stuck. I didn't know how to say no. I didn't know how to get away from this older guy, who bought dinner, and in return expected a relationship.

After 6 months of an on again, off again relationship, (mostly me breaking up and then he using guilt and manipulation to get me back together with him for his fear of 'abandonment'), we found ourselves in his apartment in a compromising situation. Still adamant about maintaining my virginity, he played on my ignorance and need for attention/affection. My first time was not fully aware, or frankly, consensual. My poor assumption was that if he was "Christian" too, he didn't want to have sex. That is what he told me. Since I was fooling around and there, my guilt kept me quiet. Feeling dirty, he was the only person I could then talk to about this. He couldn't have planned it any better.

For those reading this to see if i accept 'responsibility' for my actions: Did i lie about my whereabouts? Yes. Often. Was I allowed at his apartment? No, but who was going to find out? No one insisted that we 'hang out' with mom and dad. In fact, when we eventually married, they told me that they didn't even KNOW him. Also, for the record, California Statutory law states that a person who is NOT a minor who has sex with someone who is, commits statutory rape and that the penalty for that is more stringent if the difference in ages is over 3.5 years, which it was. There is no such thing as consensual sex with a minor.

Thus began the cycle of my senior year: I run to him for approval, acceptance, get taken advantage of and cry. Pray, repent, even at times "pray together." I would get up at 6 am and drive to his apartment, crying, showing him all the verses that I had learned about in Youth Group, and tell him how we can't do this anymore. I would try to break up. He would convince me that he didn't want to have sex either and we could stay together. I remember he used a dinner at his parent's house to convince me to get back together. How? Well, his parents were youth pastors in the church i grew up in. I grew up extremely fond of his dad, and I couldn't bare the thought of disappointing them. For 6 months this went on. I then gave up.

I decided I was so far from God, so far from the person i wanted to be and so tired of feeling guilty, that i thought, *$%% it, I may as well have fun. I had unrestrained sex. Like all sin, this didn't seem to be the answer either. With my senior ball approaching, missing my friends, and the acceptance to 5 prestigious universities with an entire future ahead of me, I was finally ready to make clean break. Summer after senior year was turning out to be all i could hope for. My parents were less controlling, having 'done their duty'. I could go out with friends, hit the lake, and look forward to deciding my next step. Best of all, Craig and I finally made a lasting split. It seemed to be going so well, we remained friends.

Then it happened. I was staying for a week with my best friend. Her parents had gone to Canada on vacation and we were left to house sit. Sunning by the pool and scrapbooking our high school years took up the majority of our time. I began to feel sick. Nauseous, more precisely. Then a late period. A call to Craig. A late night run to the store. A sleepless night. A positive test first thing in the morning. My knees collapsed in grief the morning of July 12. I was two months pregnant....I said, "What are we going to do???" "Get married, I guess."

Living at home, my dad was self employed. We had no health insurance and it was always feast or famine. I had worked part time jobs since i was 15, knew the value of a dollar, and the father of my child fit the minimum criteria with which to pick a husband. He was, after all, a Christian, with full health benefits and a decent job to boot.

I knew going into the situation that telling my parents that I was pregnant going to be the single most excruciating point of my life to date. It was. Worse than finding out that i actually was pregnant. And i did it alone. Telling Craig's parents was easy. From their view, their college-aged, adopted son who had moved out at 18 and who often got into trouble had at least made one good decision: I was a good Christian girl from a good home and at least I had graduated High School. My dad's response was to pick up a rifle and stare out the window. His dad's response was, "Well, it's going to be a beautiful baby!"

Six weeks later (**&&^%%!!!???), our parents and their church friends gave us a nice wedding. During that six weeks, Craig disappeared to 'get his party on'. After all, he was 21 and going to have to give up his freedom. I was left to deal with the enormous amount of shame I had caused my family, my dreams of fleeing my hometown and attending university completely shattered, suddenly laid with responsibilities that I couldn't even begin to fathom, the guilt that 'my sin had caught up to me', and terrified of being seen in front of my dad without a ring on my finger.

Thus began my adult life.

Lesson number one with your teens: Don't take their word for it. Question where they are, who they are with. Question their real motives. Teaching dating guidelines is a future blog. As a Christian, your number one job as a parent is to teach your kids (especially your daughters) WHO THEY ARE IN CHRIST. What He thinks they are worth. Acceptance of a Heavenly Father who made us in HIS IMAGE. A girl who is boy crazy is not getting the message. If she is doing the chasing, its because she doesn't feel WORTHY. Satan attacks girls at their self-esteems. All teens want approval. They want approval from their peers, yes, but more importantly, they want YOUR approval. They will lie, just to stay in your good graces. Maybe they are lying to themselves, too. Just like we want the approval of our Heavenly Father, they want the approval of their parents. After all, they come from YOU.

Comments

  1. Oh friend, what a lot of memories this evokes. I remember visiting you in the middle of those 6 weeks (was that really all??) and feeling so vividly the tension, and in particular your mom's misgivings about you choosing marriage (funny, it did seem like your choice at the time, but as a grown-up reading your story, I can see now how not-a-choice it really was).

    I am going to think more about what you've written about parenting teen-aged girls, and what my own life was like. I do feel a lot of "but for the grace of God" when I think about our lives - I too was desperate for the love and attention of the boys I knew and I too had parents who loved me and loved Jesus and didn't let me date til I was 16 (ha!). I think about the moment you describe above when you told them you just wanted to be popular and I feel a bit sick: how many moments will be so life-shaping to my children and will feel so just-another-day to me as the parent? Will I waste the one moment that matters, spent by the work and effort of making a life and a marriage and raising kids and making dinner?

    I am so glad you are writing the story. I will look forward to hearing where the working out of it all takes you.

    One thing I'm pretty sure I believe is that nothing "happens for a reason" but that all things do work for good, as promised. I hope you find space to write about what good you can see now that you might not have seen then. I mean, the awesomeness that is A. is kind of obvious, but beyond that, in your own heart...

    XOX. A.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You, my friend, have no idea how much that means. It feels scary to finally "put it out there" with all the remaining flaws in my thinking. I hope to remember all the wisdom He taught me along the way, by writing it all down. Thank you for reading. I will look forward to future comments.

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