Validation of Self

"Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don’t ask me to wear your shoes." – George Carlin

I am enjoying the dialogue on my recent post. The differing experiences and viewpoints really stir something in me. So thank you.

A few things I liked:

Kippa asked: Why was it any of her business?

I agree (now) with Kippa that it probably wasn’t her business. I also suspect that my then fiancé felt the same. (He reads here so he may pop up and state his own position).

Why did I feel then that it was her business?

I can say that I felt, deeply, that my fiancé was getting damaged goods. I wasn’t good enough for my own child, how could I be good enough for a man like him?

I had been told as a child and during my unplanned pregnancy that a decent man would never marry a woman like me – a woman who had a child out of wedlock. I had been told by friends and family members and my Catholic teachings that I was damaged, dirty, and yesterday’s trash. Jezebel. Hester Prynn.  Forever branded and never, ever, good enough. Men want virgins, men want the first child a woman has to be HIS child…not some bastard child of another man. (I really was told all this crap).

I believed this. I really did. When my boyfriend asked me to marry him, I was shocked, excited but not trusting. Always at the back of my mind was that big old voice screaming “whore, harlot, bad mother, you are trash”. 

I suppose I needed, wanted, a test of that. I wanted to see if it could be true. I wanted to know, BEFORE, I made the plunge into marriage if I was going to be judged and discarded at any point in the future. Leave me now before I get too attached was my mantra. Judge me now so I don’t have to deal with it later.

When your own family discards you and your unborn child, why shouldn’t or wouldn’t every other person you encounter?

Najah asked: Why didn’t I tell her myself?

Excellent question.  I am not sure I have an answer for that. It never occurred to me. I assumed it was his place.  A discussion mother and son should have about “marrying down” or something. (Again, keep in mind the judgment and shame based religion I grew up with).

I can say that I was afraid and maybe I wanted my fiancé to bear the brunt of any negative reaction. Additionally, as noted, it was some sort of psychological test of my fiancé. I know that now. I wanted to see if he would or could discuss that. Turned out, he couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t need to.

But I needed him to.

I needed, desperately, for someone to stand up for me. Defend my honor. Prove their love for me. To be proud of me.  To SEE me for me. A good girl that had been broken and betrayed, flailing like a squirrel that had recently been run over, but still a good girl.

I still had this need as recent as three years ago. When I found my daughter and I reunited with her father, I waited, unconsciously, for him to come out of the closet. I waited for him to finally claim me, and her, and I felt that could be done by him telling his family, his other children, his parents, of our daughter’s existence.

For reasons known only to him, he did not.

This hurt me deeply – again. It was like being thrown away, discarded, a second time.

Again, I was seeking validation, support, respect that I did not get. I was hoping, in some dark corner of my heart, that he would finally stand up for me, for us, for her. I needed that.

I am happy to say that over the years and through the help of a wonderful therapist skilled in many aspects of marriage, family and trauma  therapy, that I have finally gotten to a place where I don’t need anyone else to tell me who or what I am.  I can self validate. Sure, there are still times when I feel scared, anxious and I worry that I will be discarded once again for my history but I work through it.

I did nothing wrong.

I was a good girl who loved a man who loved her back.

I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

I don’t give a rat’s ass about the Catholic Church and frankly, never did. I tried to fit into that box. I don’t fit. It’s okay. I don’t need to.

It is no longer about others respecting me.

It is about me respecting me.

4 Thoughts.

  1. That statement about “a decent man never marrying ‘damaged goods'” – boy does that bring back memories.
    My mother actually said to me (the night before the wedding) that “I must have lied to get such a nice person to marry me”.
    I replied that I had told my future husband some time ago and that he was OK with that.
    Then my mother really said this
    (I kid you not)
    “What is wrong with him then?”

  2. My mother, a strict Catholic, also thought that I should have become a nun.
    We don’t speak to each other anymore – especially since I found out that she and my father went to the Catholic Children’s Aid Society several times behind my back and begged them to take my son from me.
    I just can’t forgive them for that.

  3. As soon as my boyfriend (now husband of 25 years) and I got serious, I rattled off every bad thing about myself, including that I had had a baby out of wedlock 11 years before. My mother told me after my baby’s birth that I should never tell anyone, ditto: that no decent man would marry me if he knew. Which caused me to only go with indecent men for years — wild, unstable men who devalued me, cheated on me, who wouldn’t commit. Until I met my future husband. He married me in spite of everything that I was ashamed of.
    It never occurred to me that his mother or anyone else in his family had to know my history. Although I do appreciate the wanting someone to stand up for me. Which he did, 15 years later, when I reunited with my son. By then my mother-in-law, who was a dear person, was ill and failing. But she dictated a wonderful letter to me (which a friend wrote out) about how happy she was for me, how wonderful it was that I had found my son.

  4. like Justice in her previous comment I cooperated with the code of silence, and like Denise my (now) husband was one of the few I told. When I told him it was partly to drive him away and partly to test him. The idea of wanting people to know is new to me in the last couple years (after a 20 year silence).
    Thanks for considering my question in the spirit it was asked, I worried a bit later that it might have been perceived as a challenge which was never my intent.

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