On Anger and Shame

I spent years trying to hide how young I was. Whenever I would attempt to make friends with other moms at the preschool, I would try like mad to avoid the conversations about high school and college days and the year everyone got married. I’m not dumb (and neither were they) they knew I was younger. I just didn’t want to get into how much younger.

There is so much shame in teenage pregnancy. I’m not saying that it’s something to aspire to, but it’s been close to 18 years and the shame I felt all those years ago burns almost as hot even today. I am not ashamed of the beautiful family that I am blessed with, but when I read this article that Kelly shared last week it brought up some very real anger and some pretty intense shame that I didn’t know still hung around. It’s been four days, and I’m still stewing about it.

I was 18 years old when I got pregnant. As teenage pregnancy statistics go, I guess I was on the older side of things. I have always been grateful that I was, at least, out of high school but I hate admitting that I am a college dropout.

A lot of you know my story. I even stood on a stage last year and read a letter that I wrote to 19 year old me. I thought I exorcised some of those demons. Yet an article about teenage pregnancy shame has sent me into some pretty deep feels.

I’m still really fucking angry and I really hate that I am.

I have spent so much of my life worrying that I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings if I told the truth and said how I really feel. I have stopped myself from telling so many stories, because it might make someone feel bad. But at the end of the day, who made sure that my feelings weren’t hurt? Who made sure that I didn’t feel bad?

Not many.

I am still angry that the religious institution that I put so much faith in abandoned me and made me feel like such a fuck-up. I am angry that I lost so many friends because I all of a sudden became the example of what not to do. I am angry that people tried to get me to put my baby up for adoption. I am angry that all the anger and judgment and shame gets placed on the teenage mom. I am angry that I have no happy memories of my wedding day because almost every single person in attendance was against us getting married. I am angry that I still feel the need to joke that “we did things backwards” even today as I meet new people because there is still so much shame in being a teenage mom – even though I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m mad that I can’t read an article on teenage pregnancy without feeling like I want to throw up.

I’ve buried my anger deep inside of me for many, many years. I have this beautiful family. I know how lucky I am. But I’ve spent so many years believing that I’m not allowed to be angry because my life has been so blessed.

That’s bullshit.

Instead of dealing with my anger, I’ve let it fester into a horrible wound that has never healed. As cathartic as it was to tell my story, I censored all the anger because I had built too many walls and it would’ve been too much work to break them down. And, of course, I put everyone else’s feelings before my own.

But you know what? I can be angry and grateful at the same time. I can sit here and let some of those demons fly knowing full well that I would do it all over again because my family is worth it. They are amazing and wonderful but it’s okay if I tell you how hard I’ve worked or how much I have sacrificed to make that happen. There has not been one bit of this that has been easy.

But I’ve given way too much power to the shame of it all. I wasn’t promiscuous. I’m not tarnished goods. And if you would like to talk about the “problem child” I’ve brought into this world be prepared for me to tell you about her straight A’s and Stanford dreams and her kickass little sister that rocks our world. I’m not sorry for any of that.

I shouldn’t be.

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Turn the Beat (Year) Around

I’ve had writer’s block for almost two weeks. I can’t decide if it’s because I don’t know what to say, or I don’t know how to say what I want. I have things that I want to talk about…to write about…to hash out and try and make sense of things that don’t always make sense. I want to start conversations and get the ball rolling. I want to be creative and wake up that side of my brain that seems to be sleeping away the rest of 2013.

We had a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with family. We surprised the hell out of my mother in-law on Christmas Eve with visiting family from Mexico. I still get verklepmt when I think about how excited she was (and still is.) My sister came to town a few days ago, so we’ve been spending time with her and her family, too. We’ve gone to a hockey game, we’ve gone to Apple Hill…we’ve tried new things around town that we’ve never tried before. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve enjoyed my family.

So maybe it’s not that I have true writer’s block. Maybe my energy has just been spent on being present and enjoying my loved ones.

Maybe sometimes you just need to realize that you’re where you need to be.

I’ve taken some time to think back on 2013. To say it’s been a big and busy year is a tremendous understatement.

I started Life of Jill.
I chopped off all my hair. Because of course.
Sarah and I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
Ramona turned 11.
I was a cast member of Listen to Your Mother – Sacramento.
Beezus went to prom.
I went to a couple of amazing conferences.
Campfire Wednesday was the best thing to happen to summer.
We bought a house.
A Giants game where they lost, but we had a blast.
We met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences along the way.
Beezus turned 16.
Ramona started middle school.
My brother got married.
Paisley turned 1.
Cap City Moms became a (softly launched) reality.
Celebrated 16 years of marriage.
College Visits? Ooph.
I enjoyed the hell out of my family and friends.

 

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That’s not even all of it. Not even a little bit!

Yeah, there were stressful and hard times and sad times mixed in. But when I think about 2013, there were some pretty badass things that I’ll be celebrating tonight.

And maybe that’s where I get stuck.

I focus so much on the past. I am celebrating a fantastic year coming to an end. I think about all the good that happened. I am thinking about all the fun that was had and all the love that was shared. But for some reason, I get stuck on how great things were, and I have difficulty looking ahead. I prepare myself for disappointment in 2014 because 2013 was so rad? That’s a pretty piss-poor way to do things if you ask me.

AND YET.

I basically have about 15 hours to celebrate and enjoy the end of a very awesome 2013 and snap myself into realizing that 2014 could be even more. More fun. More family time. More awesome. IT COULD HAPPEN.

Instead of sitting here worrying about what could go wrong. I should focus on all that is so totally right.

Life is what happens when you’re too busy making plans, right? Well, sometimes you can’t even make plans because you’re stuck looking back at the past and trying to walk into the new year backwards.

So yes…I have 15 hours to celebrate an awesome year. But I also have 15 hours to turn myself around and start walking face forward and get ready for what an amazing year 2014 will be.

Happy New Year, everyone.

all the roads we had to walk are winding

The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is sad and happy and certifiably crazy. You just never know what Jill you’re gonna get.

But here’s the thing: I’ve woken up a lot of feelings and emotions this year. A lot of it surfaced when I wrote my LTYM piece. And then it continued to surface as I faced things that I didn’t know I needed to face. Maybe even forgive people that I didn’t know I needed to forgive. Maybe people that thought that teenage mom me shouldn’t, perhaps, keep a certain pregnancy…or maybe that I shouldn’t keep the baby. That I should give her up for adoption. And even more people that thought I shouldn’t get married.

I always thought that I wasn’t mad. But maybe I was a little. Maybe a little bit more than a little.

There were times that I worried that I was going to ruin that sweet baby’s life. We were too young…we weren’t ready. We had a lot to learn about being married and being parents all at the same time. We were ridiculously poor sometimes. We sacrificed a lot. We couldn’t give her and her sister everything we wanted to. I still have guilt and regret over the times when I have failed miserably. I worried that all those people were right. The ones that doubted us the most.

But I think now is the time that I let that anger start to go away. The anger at myself. At the other people. Because the best part of proving everyone wrong? It’s her. It is all her.

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photo: sarah maren photography

I’d gloat about being right, but I don’t even know how. Because I’m just still in awe that I get to be her mom. Even after sixteen years, I can’t believe she’s mine. She is magical. She is a blessing. And she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I would go through every bit of sacrifice and hard time if it meant that I could still be her mom. Every single bit.

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us…last year’s birthday party

I know I need to learn to let go. I need to learn how to let her grow up and be the amazing person that she is. But I can’t yet. I want to be selfish for just a little while longer.

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photo: sarah maren photography

Because with a kid like this? It’s hard not to.

Mostly I’m Just Happy to Have Working Internet Again

I promise that I’m not going to write a post about how I now have internet hooked up at the new house and how happy that makes me. (Although, for the record? I am SUPREMELY happy about having internet, my friends. IT HAS BEEN WEEKS WITHOUT REAL INTERNET. I’m excited.) The installer may or may not have laughed at me when I said “Hell, I don’t even CARE about the TV…I’m just happy for internet.”

(He also may have said that he’s never actually heard someone say that before. And, well, I’m kinda surprised by that and also his other clients must not love Facebook and Twitter like I do.)

(Did I just admit all that on the internet?)

Now that I’ve taken up so much of your time telling you about how happy I am to have internet, what I really came over here to say is that my first post is up over at HelloXOXO. Remember that awesome website I was telling you about? Well, there I am…talking about Campfire Wednesdays and summer memories and what not. But mostly? I’m just wanting to have a really great summer before my kids get too old to enjoy these summers like we can now.

I also wanted to tell you about the Listen to Your Mother videos being up. And, well…there are bunches of feelings surrounding that. I was kinda surprised by it actually, but I loved watching the video. And I think this weekend I’ll be able to tackle watching the others. But just in case you missed it, there I am. (I will embed that later when this works a bit better.)

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Also, I never told you about my logo. And how amazing Sarah is. But I will tell you more about that when I’m not so excited about having internet, and LTYM videos and HelloXOXO blog posts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a softball game to get to and tons (TONS) of internet to use. Because I can now.

Have a great weekend!