Shame On You by Melissa Rosella

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There was a cute boy. He was in the high school band our Freshman year. I was a band aid, meaning I helped set out the batons for the twirlers at every football game & traveled with the band via school bus.

The cute boy had white blonde hair- it was cutely parted in the middle. He had blue ocean eyes. He was tall, skinny,  & dreamy. I was in like. I had a crush.

He knew it. He was my best friend’s brother. Naturally, I’d see him when I was at my best friend’s house. Their house was 45 minutes away.

We lived in the Ozarks. Our home was a cedar log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Our driveway was 2 miles long & my school was 25 minutes away. I was not a happy teen. Life was boring in AR.

The cute boy & I started seeing each other.  & one thing led to another & he wanted to go all the way. I was 15 & naive. I was inexperienced.

We had a guest house. He was there. I was there. He looked at me & I looked at him. & things happened. We had unprotected sex. I thought I was special to him, but I was just another number. I thought he loved me, but he didn’t. It was just sex, but not to me because it had been my very first time.

Reminds me of Vanessa Carlton’s, “White Houses:”

“My. First. Time. Hard to explain. Rush of blood…. & a little bit of pain. On a cloudy day. It’s more common than you think. He’s… myyyyyy… first… mistake.”

Time passed & there was a point I thought I was pregnant. Wasn’t sure how to handle the suspicion. I was scared. I was terrified.

I called my crush & told him my hunch & he said, “The baby isn’t mine. I’m going into the service.” What a stand up guy! Who’s baby would it be, Romeo? You were my one & only. What a loser.

I went to my mom & shared my suspicion. Many would ask why didn’t you just go get a test & see if you were pregnant first. Hmmm, I just didn’t. I was scared & went to my mom.

Mom pretty much freaked out  on me, which is understandable. Then, she forced & insisted I tell my stepfather. All he did was yell with his big booming voice: “Shame on you, how could you do this to your mother?!?”

(Shame washed over me.

Guilt ensued.

Convinced I was a bad girl.)

I learned to keep my mouth shut after that & was convinced that neither one of them were safe people to share my vulnerabilities with. I started hating my stepdad after that. He made fun of my eclectic clothing choices & my beloved music that got me through some of the most difficult times in my whole life.

I guess I didn’t fit his mold. I suppose  he did not fancy The Cranberries “No Need To Argue” album or Green Day’s “Dookie” album. I was obsessed with both. I played “Empty” on repeat so much that I about broke the tape.

I wish my mom would have kept the conversation between us. I felt betrayed. My mom made me pee in a glass jar, no joke, & she personally took it to a local clinic. It came back negative, thankfully. She went to the store & bought 10, yes 10, pregnancy tests. They were all negative.

I’ve decided that if this happens to my children, I will aim to be a soft place to fall & meet them where they are by educating them as much as I can. Prevention. Prevention.

We will fully prepare them for what love looks like & what it does not look like, what it means to be a gentleman & what it means to be a strong woman. We will talk to them, candidly, about condoms, birth control, the sacredness of their bodies, & self-respect. I am fully aware that they can choose to ignore our teachings and rebel & are going to do what they please, as they have free will, but they will be educated & be in the know.

I

will

do

my

best

not

to:

  1. Yell
  2. Shame
  3. Guilt
  4. Force them to tell their father
  5. Make Hope  take 11 pregnancy tests

We, as parents, have a huge huge responsibility to teach & prepare our children for what exists out there- to equip them with the appropriate tools to enable them to make  decisions necessary to allow them  to be independent thinkers & doers through their choices & actions. They are to be held accountable for their choices.

We will be a support system & we’ll do our best to be a soft place to fall for them as best we can.

I wish my mom would have looked me in the eye, hugged me, & assured me everything was going to be alright. I wish I had not felt as though her love was conditional based on if I made the right choices or not. I wish she would have asked me how she could have best supported me in that particular situation, because I was so incredibly petrified, ashamed, & alone.

I became a turtle & sank back into my shell, swearing I’d never ever be vulnerable with my mom & stepfather ever again, or else.

Mom was doing her best at the time & she failed, miserably, but I was a participant in it all. At that moment, I wish she would have taken the time to talk to me, candidly & bluntly,  about birth control methods, boundaries, & more. I was left in the dark to figure it out on my own.

When we are not shown the way, we figure it out our very own way. We find ways to teach ourselves & we do not typically get our knowledge from the best resources. Sometimes, we learn along the way & sometimes it is too late.

I would go on to continue hooking up with the dreamboat because I wanted him to fall in love with me. That never happened. Shocking.

We must have open & honest communication with our children.

I’ve already started the conversation about inappropriate touching with Hope & she’s 5 years old. I caught her showing her privates to her brother & she was laughing. I panicked & decided the conversation about private parts needed  to start asap! Then, I caught her touching James’ privates, as a joke,  & decided the conversation had to start right now.

I often ask Hope these questions:

  1. What are your private parts?
  2. Who is allowed to touch your private parts?
  3. What do you do if someone tries to touch your private parts?
  4. Who do you tell if someone tries to touch your private parts?

If we do not have an ongoing dialogue with our children about their bodies, boundaries, & the power of speaking up & standing up, starting at a young age, our children will not be prepared for what they are up against in this big world. It starts with us. It starts in the home.

Also, kids should not be forced to hug relatives or friends. Give them approved choices. Children are not to be forced to do things we deem ‘necessary,’ especially for the sake of looking good to avoid looking bad.

Children have the ability to make choices that best  suit them. If they do not wish to hug their grandfather, then they should not be forced to do so. Children have free will & they can choose what is comfortable for them & their unique situation & circumstances.

I will give my children choices. They may:

  1. Hug
  2. Fist bump
  3. High five
  4. Hand shake

& if they choose none of those, then that’s ok. & if someone wants to get butt hurt over it, so be it. Boundaries are crucial.

Sleepovers? Nope, not at age 5 & 3. It is what we believe works for us & our unique family.

Teach your children right from wrong & do not teach them the hard-to-discuss topics because you don’t know how to teach them, are uncomfortable, or don’t have the right words. Just do it & keep doing it until they fully grasp what you are teaching.

As for me, I learned who was safe to go to & who was not. I discovered my step mom to be a safe place for me to share whatever was going on in my life. Thank God for her. She came into my life at 2 years of age & became a beacon of light & hope in my pivotal teenage years. She saved my life.

She listened, without judgement, & provided advice when asked. She was my soft place to fall. My father, for whom I eventually moved in with, also became a great soundboard for me. I spilled my guts to them both because they kept their voices calm, looked into my eyes when I spoke,  & were there when I needed them.

They trusted me & allowed me to be independent & have my own space. They absolutely respected my eclectic clothing choices & my music. Most importantly, they allowed me to be an individual & they fully supported me. & because of this, I felt safe to be vulnerable & transparent & authentic with them. I hope to be like them when Hope & James are teens.

My mom became very mentally  ill when I was 16. She could no longer care for me, was put into a mental institution, & was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was a very difficult time in my life. I had to move out of the house & move in with my father & stepmom, Sally. They lived in a Indiana.

I entered my Junior year of high school at Elkhart Central. Those were truly some of the very best years of my whole entire life because my parents absolutely allowed me to be me. I got the support & counseling I so desperately needed.

For the record, my mom & I are extremely close these days. We talk quite a bit & I have no resentment towards her, whatsoever. Vince & I are cool, too. I learned to forgive him. I realize, today, that they were just doing their best with the skill set & knowledge they had at the time. I love them both, dearly. I’ve forgiven them. All we can do is our personal best. & I believe they did their best.

I’m quite certain Sally saved my life, as she was my mom when my mother could not be. My father was the best (is the best) & I’m truly thankful to be able to say I have two mothers & two fathers.

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