Skip links

Forgiving My 20-Year Old Self

Forgiving my 20 year old selfOver the last 9 months or so, since I really started working on my Invisible Mothers book project – from the conception of the idea, to interviewing mothers, to starting to write the book, and now to being in the midst of my Kickstarter campaign – I have struggled with shame around my loss experiences.

Unlike most of the mothers that I have interviewed, my first pregnancy and loss were unknown to anyone but myself (and my doctor and medical staff, obviously). While many mothers struggle with trying to talk about their loss and their grief with loved ones and feel met with silence and isolation, I never tried.

Since I launched my Kickstarter for the book a couple weeks ago, it’s been a bit of an inner struggle to share it without a a level of shame and hesitation for me. I believe in this book and I believe in the importance of talking about the topic of pregnancy and infant loss – and yet, part of me hesitates.

I have been putting my story out there in a much bigger way and all that shame and guilt and embarrassment for my younger self has risen to the surface.

It was never my intention to be so secretive about my life back in my early college years. I never expected to meet someone to love so early in life. I certainly didn’t expect to get so serious with him so soon and get engaged. I also didn’t plan to get pregnant. I definitely didn’t plan to have them both die on me.

And I absolutely never thought I would experience all that and not have anyone in my family ever know about it.

That has been what I have carried shame and guilt about for so many years now. It’s not as if I had an unsupportive or unloving family. Quite the opposite, in fact. My family has always been there for me, encouraged me, supported me, and loved me.

This project has brought all that up for me to take another look at.

And I realized that it’s time to forgive my 20-year old self. She did the best she knew how.

My 20-year old self didn’t expect to fall in love so young. I can forgive her for the insecurity and uncertainty of that love that prompted her to keep it from the family she most wanted to share it with. I can forgive her for not having the emotional skills to know how to handle her fears and doubts.

She did the best she knew how.

My 20-year old self didn’t expect to get engaged – and, honestly, she was more surprised than anyone when she said yes. Because, hell, now how was she supposed to tell her family that she was engaged to a guy they knew nothing about? I can forgive her for her fear of rejection and doubting of self.

She did the best she knew how.

My 20-year old self didn’t expect to find out she was pregnant – or for the equally powerful feelings of joy and terror at the news. I can forgive her for not knowing what to do. I can forgive her for feeling lost and confused and happy and excited – and overwhelmed with indecision.

She did the best she knew how.

My 20-year old self didn’t expect to then find out her fiancé had died in a car accident before she could tell him about the baby. I can forgive her for the terrible grief that was paralyzing and that threw her world out of balance. I can forgive her for not having the courage to tell her family about the baby when she couldn’t tell the one person she wanted to tell – the man she loved and the father of her baby.

She did the best she knew how.

And my 20-year old self didn’t expect to get the news that her baby had died. I can forgive her for getting lost in that heart-shattering, indescribable grief of losing not just her child, but also the remaining link to the man she loved. I can forgive her for barely having the strength to breathe, let alone speak out.

I can forgiver her for denying herself the support and the love of her family.
I can forgive her for staying silent in her pain and her grief.
I can forgive her for denying her family the chance to know the love she felt for those she lost.
I can forgive her for not knowing how to handle what even the strongest of us struggle to handle.
I can forgive her for not knowing better.

Because she did the best she knew how.

I did the best I knew how. Until I knew better. Then I did better.

That’s all any of us can do. The best we can, until we know better.

Join the Discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.