I was born in Launceston Tasmania the eldest of five children. My father was a Boiler Maker Welder and my mother stayed home and worked hard trying to make ends meet. Theirs’ was a turbulent marriage which ended in divorce 25 years later. As children we had lots of freedom and would regularly go missing for the whole day as we trekked around the countryside returning in time for our evening meal to an anxious mother. Despite her vexed look and harsh words, she doubtlessly was pleased to see us.
In my family I was the first born. I was the first teenage pregnancy. I was the first unmarried mother. I was the first to shun marriage and opted to live in sin but married later. I was the first to be divorced. All through my life I have carried shame. The shame of being sixteen and pregnant. Marrying my baby’s father was not an option we were just kids playing around and got caught out. Even now I can see myself standing in the family kitchen confirming my parents worse fear that yes, I was pregnant.
There were no words of comfort or support given at any stage during my pregnancy. My mother told me, “I had ruined the rest of my life”. My father told me, “No decent man would ever want me, nobody wants used goods”. I bought that one and carried it around until I was well into my forties. Little wonder I have two failed marriages and a trail of broken relationships. More shame. I have three children to two different fathers, more shame. I left my children, more shame.
Let’s face it being pregnant at sixteen is not what any parent wants for their child. In the 70’s it was still associated with girls of (shall we say) loose morals or girls who came from a poor family background. Nice girls never did these things. I was the girl your mother told you to never associate with and your father told you to have a good time with, but do not marry. When I was five months pregnant I was sent to Melbourne and stayed at The Presbyterian Sisterhood, a residential placement for unmarried mothers until the birth of my daughter.
My baby was going to be given up for adoption. Funny I don’t recall ever being asked what I wanted until very late in my pregnancy. By then I had been told so many times as to what I was going to be doing that I simply repeated, “my baby was going to be adopted”. My beautiful daughter was born on 29 December 1973 and something happened on the inside of me. I found myself saying, “I am not giving her up for adoption”. Social workers, nurses, the sisters and matron of the unmarried mothers home tried to talk me out of it, but I stood firm in my decision.
Hmmm was that the beginning of tenacity or was I just being a stubborn rebellious teenager. I returned to Tasmania with my daughter and to my supportive parents. I dare say it was easy for them and I was not privy to any of the conversations that happened prior to my return or after. But they were there for me, and they loved my daughter as much as I did.
After living together for three years I married my first husband only to leave six months later. I left my first husband for another man who is the father of my other two children. It was a toxic relationship involving drugs, abuse, threats and manipulation. After 7 years I could not take it any more and left. I left my children. At that stage I believed I was a bad mother. I believed every rotten thing that had been happening within our home was my fault, if I was a better mother my children would be happier, if I was a better at relationships my partner would be happier.
Several months later my children and I were reunited as a family, but the road was so much harder because of the damage that had been done. We endured an incredible amount of hardship over the next 10 plus years but the one factor that drove me was I wanted a better life for my family, and for myself. I wanted more and was not prepared to sit back and accept what life had dished up so far.
Shame held me back. I made little inroads, but it was a constant uphill struggle and many times I would end up in tears of frustration and desperation. Subconsciously the shame I felt kept me from the very things I wanted. It started when I was sixteen and pregnant, followed by children to different fathers (we still hear that one today) “she’s got three children to different fathers” said with a condescending tone, said with judgment. Then came, “you’ve been divorced twice”, “a sucker for punishment”, and “how could you leave your children”? “I would never do that no matter how bad things were”.
I carried all of this and more until the day I started to believe in myself. It wasn’t triggered by anything special just a cumulation of events over a long period of time and the insatiable desire for a better way of being. I knew for things to change I had to start with myself. It has been a journey of self discovery and personal development with many ups and downs and twists and turns.
Living overseas for 2 years, then moving interstate 11 years ago to make a new life for myself, establishing a career in teaching adults with job ready skills, and now I own two businesses. The journey I started with my first business in May 2017 is far from the journey I am currently experiencing. The world I move in keeps expanding and the opportunities just keep coming. It is my choice as to which opportunities I accept and which direction I take at this exciting stage of my life. One thing I know for sure is I no longer carry shame. I love that sixteen year old girl and I admire her courage, her tenacity and her resilience without her I would not be who I am today or whom I become tomorrow.
About the Author
Kim is the Founder of Office Society and the Branch Director of Business In Heels – North Shore Sydney. She is an aspiring speaker and author.
Kim gives business owners the confidence in knowing their office is humming along efficiently allowing them to use their resources to gain a competitive edge.
A true business matchmaker connecting and collaborating business to business.
Kim’s favourite quote, “Life is like an ice cream, just when you think you have it licked, it drips all over you”.
You can contact Kim on – firstname.lastname@example.org