The past…

we have reached the point in my therapy where the subject of the “past” has come up –  specifically the circumstances surrounding the conception and birth of my first child.

i was an ‘unmarried mother’ and Ben was not a planned child. The shame I feel about the whole episode means that this evening was the first time I have discussed this in detail, possibly ever. It’s been buried in my conscious, a source of such  intense embarrassment and guilt that I literally NEVER discuss it. Not with my ExP or my ex Husband, not with my friends. Just not.

the phrases “disgusted with myself” , degradation, stupidity, humiliation come to mind when I think of the circumstances surrounding Ben’s conception. Of course despite initial reassuring noises about how they don’t think badly of me regarding this both my ex husband and ExP have made it abundantly clear (when things got difficult) that they do, in fact, think I’m a slut and an unforgivable whore / tramp for having a child with a man I had a fling with.

The disquiet runs so deep,I was even nervous about discussing it in therapy. I feel it shows me in such a poor light – perhaps once again thus demonstrates my need to be ‘perfect’ to ‘please’ in that I don’t want Angela my therapist to think badly of me.

The hour I spent discussing it flew by. I’m sitting in the coffee shop at the gym now because I need some quiet space to digest my feeling about having discussed this. I’m also aware that I feel a strong urge to go and get drunk, to block out my feelings , to do “something” with the uncomfortable feelings that have been raised. (Don’t worry I won’t) I have a peppermint tea, some space and this blog, and the rest I will have to just sit with.

i think reviewing the circumstances which led me there allow me some leeway to ‘forgive myself’ a little. I left London in 1997 after the end of a very important relationship. Although I had called time on it, I was bereft, consumed with my loss and desperately unhappy. I had been living with my brother who had been kind enough to put me up. I must have been a nightmare to live with. I described myself to Angela as chaotic, which sums it up – but when I look back I don’t recognise myself. I was late to work, disappeared for long shopping trips in the middle of the day, was selfish in the extreme and utterly lost. I was drinking heavily and didn’t care about myself one little bit.

So I decided, in my wisdom to go to Wales and train as a GP. And not to Cardiff or Swansea, but to a tiny rural Welsh speaking hamlet, where I lived alone in a stone cottage ( having first dumped myself on an acquaintance for the best part of 3 months)  I was running away, although I knew not what from, not what to. I had no plan, no stability and had just removed myself from all the sources of support I had.

Small wonder I took up with the only man who was single and had all his teeth. I was never ‘in love’ , I never intended it to be a long lasting relationship. And after a few weeks I started noticing things about my new friend I didn’t like much – he was a fantasist, habitual liar and (probably) a small time crook. So after about 3 months I ended the relationship. All fine

except that in my chaotic, self sabotaging, self loathing state I had “forgotten” to take care of contraception properly. I didn’t realise I was pregnant for a further 9 weeks.

In that time I went skiing, twice. Drank like a fish, took antibiotics for a chest infection and wondered why I felt so tired. Poor child , what a shitty start.

Writing this down I begin to feel sorry for the younger me. I see she needed love and compassion, she needed stability and a feeling of self worth, she needed security and to take care of herself emotionally and physically. She didn’t.

The decision not to terminate my pregnancy was immediate, and ultimately provided me with a salvation of sorts. The arrival of the baby, who I adored as soon as he was born, brought me a stability and reason to create order in my life. I went home to my mum to have the baby, by that time I had my certificate of completion of GP training, so I knew I could earn a living and support us both. And that’s what I did.

Ben’s father has never seen him. I did not tell him when I was pregnant as the relationship was already over and the last thing I wanted was him hanging around trying to play happy families. As soon as Ben was born, and a light clicked on that this was a separate human being with his own rights, I did inform his father. On the third attempt I got a reply.

But ben has a whole other family out there. Two half siblings ( that I know of) an aunt and uncle and 4 cousins ( that I know of) grandparents. And of course a father. A man I despise, and a man I would wish to protect my son from. A man I should never ever have had a child with.

Angela and I will talk more about this I’m sure. I don’t know If I will ever forgive myself truly, or if the self disgust and self reproof can be “reprogrammed” to self forgiveness and compassion for the damaged, lost woman with such desperately low self esteem that she though she was worth no better.



  1. Darling Lily.
    You were young. You had sex! And you had a baby who you brought up with love and support as best you could.
    That is a hugely grave thing to do. And to finish you schooling at the same time and start a career.

    You are an amazing woman.

    We all have sex…it’s natural. Please don’t think you did anything wrong. It sounds like you did everything right.

    Big hugs.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Anne, thank you for your kindness. Its not ‘having sex’ I find it hard to forgive, its being careless with contraception , so that I had a child with a man I didn’t trust and had no interest in a long term relationship with. Its not telling him immediately that i was pregnant with his child. Its the stain of the poor behavior and chaotic lifestyle and self destructive actions that I blame myself for. I do feel I lanced a boil a bit in therapy. talking about it ; Honestly with no evasion and no omissions. I have hidden my shame and self disgust with this for so long , behind a brave facade, it feels good to acknowledge that that facade is not authentic. Not how I FEEL inside. Lily x

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  2. I genuinely can’t see one thing you need to forgive yourself for.
    I lie! Being so harsh on yourself!
    My gosh, you did NOTHING wrong. You had sex (natural), got pregnant (natural) and decided to have the baby. And now have a wonderful son.

    How dare these previous men who should love you and care for you and make you understand that you did nothing wrong in having Ben, judge you?! Sounds like in its simplest form, taking one of your most vulnerable, emotional parts of you and hurting you with it. To manipulate and control and make you feel weak/awful about you, and ultimately grateful to be with them.

    I know I may be so wrong there but from what you’ve said about them (more specially exP) and reading this, I would say (aside from the ex’s) uplifting and inspiring story of an uncertain, but strong, woman.

    I am SO glad you spoke to your therapist about this, and writing it out… Steps closer to realising you were not at fault, there was no fault to even talk of.

    Be easy on yourself xxx

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    • Thank you. I know both ExH and ExP (who are the only two men I have been involved with since Ben was born) have used my weakness and shame to further undermine me, I know their views are misogynistic and manipulative. ExP actually sent several years telling me that he DIDN’T blame me, but rather Ben’s father for walking out on his responsibilities, but eventually his true feelings surfaced when he goaded me persistently about imperfections in Ben’s behavior being reflective of his paternal genes. Ill be ok now. Healing will take time and forgiveness, authentic true forgiveness of myself, that I deep down believe may never come. But by airing it I have made a start

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  3. I wish you would forgive yourself, a lot of us have done a whole lot worse. That is life, we live, and we learn, you didn’t murder anyone, you had a baby, in circumstances that happen every day nowadays, it’s your feelings you need to let go of. Well done for not drinking x

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  4. As I hear your story, I immediately think about how brave and cool it was to have the baby. What an act of faith! We (thank God) no longer live in times where this is a big deal. I recently interviewed a relatively famous newscaster who decided to have a child without being married. She never said if the child was the result of a fling, a donor, or what. It doesn’t matter really, because it’s not the world’s business. But she is brave, cool, and proud, and so is her daughter. She’s also a devout Catholic.
    Wake up to the miracle of what you did, Lily! You became the heroine of your own story and were far ahead of your time. I can tell you that in your circumstances, I doubt I would have had the same courage.
    This is such a life affirming and inspiring story. Why let some insecure men label it as something else? They don’t count.
    Thanks for the joy I am finding while reading your post, sipping my coffee. It made my day. ; )

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw Shawna. That’s kind. I need time to re-frame this from a tawdry shabby sordid event in my life, to a part that is forgivable, understandable and human. Of course If I were listening to another woman tell me my own story I would hug her and tell her she was brave and courageous and had done so well. But i have so little self esteem that I cannot do that for myself (yet) I need external validation so often. And I have not asked for it re this, because I have been so ashamed of myself.Of my carelessness and the consequences. Which in this case were mine. But thank you Lily xxx

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      • Carelessness is something every single one of us is guilty of, I feel sure. Had you not been so “careless,” you would have missed out on knowing your son. It seems more like an incredible, sacred event. Nothing tawdry about it. And like you, I am quicker to give someone else a pass than to give one to myself, but that is changing. Self esteem can be built from the ground up. I am “under construction” as we speak. ; )


  5. Lily-We all have things in our past that we can be ashamed of or regret-but those shameful things also come with opportunites and blessings. In your case, your son as well as your determination to support him. I think that seeing that your younger self needed love is huge. It’s never too late to love ourselves. I think that you are in the process of doing that-even though it feels extremely painful now. You son’s father was the vehicle for the miracle of your son. You are a brave, loving, strong woman.

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  6. You were lost before you had Ben and his arrival meant you sorted yourself out and became a GP – one of those wonderful doctors that we all rely on. I call that a win. A pretty big win actually. xx

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    • The responsibility for another human being did indeed ‘sort me out’ in a lot of ways. It gave me direction, focus and stability. He saved me from myself I think. Lily x


  7. You gave your son life, He will one day marry and have his own children and you will be their grandmother. The circle of life continues. Beauty from ashes.

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  8. Yes, I gave him life, and I was the parent who stayed. I was the one who brought him up. loved him nourished him and supported him. I didn’t walk away from my responsibilities. But that is a minimum stand to which I hold myself, and I did compromise his needs for the sake of my exP on several occasions. Another think to beat myself up for. All I can promise is that I will NEVER do that again, for anyone, to any of my children. Lily x


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