“I was 17 when I got pregnant. Needless to say, my parents were disappointed. But what the people at church did to me was beyond what I even knew until MANY years later.
Let me back up a little. I was a good kid. I got good grades, my teachers loved me, and I was overall a great kid! Until about 8th grade. I still remember sitting in class and my teacher repeatedly telling me to stop talking, and I didn’t. Not only that, but I didn’t care if I got in trouble, which I did. I got kicked out of class! The rest of my high school career was pretty much the same. I even got suspended twice, over stupid stuff that never should have happened in the first place.
In 11th grade, I started skipping class to hang out with a friend from another school who had her own car. We hung out at guys’ houses where we knew their parents were at work. I also started fighting with nearly everyone around me. I had major issues with the youth group at church, both kids and adults. I just really didn’t care. My parents grounded me and a few other things, but being punished was never really a deterrent for me because I didn’t care about being in trouble.
In April of my 11th grade year, I had sex for the second time ever with a guy I really didn’t even care about. I did it because my friend liked him, and I wanted to see if I could get away with it. Needless to say, I didn’t get away with it. I knew the second that test came up positive, I was finally going to have someone who would love me no matter what. I was scared and didn’t know what I was going to do, but I talked to a couple of friends about it.
One of them decided I was probably going to get an abortion and took it upon herself to tell one of the youth leaders at church. From there, I was summoned to a meeting with the preacher and one of the youth leaders. I honestly don’t remember much of what was said, but they did tell me I had a week to tell my parents or they would.
I can still hear my mom say, ‘Oh Jennifer!’ when I told her. Next was a meeting with the preacher, elders, and my parents. All these old men sat there and started telling me how my life was changed forever. I chose to leave rather than participate in them telling what I already knew and acting like I deserved punishment for what I had done. I wasn’t treated like a sick, young lady. I was treated as if I was just bad. To this day, people will still say I was bad. But I look at it differently now. I wasn’t bad; I had a illness.
Having three teenagers around for several years now, I can tell you without a doubt, SOMEONE should have noticed something. SOMEONE should have said, ‘Wait a minute, this really isn’t like her. What’s going on?’ Nobody asked those questions. No one cared. All they wanted to do was punish me. Kids are ‘bad’ for different reasons. Every bad kid isn’t mentally ill. But, I can tell you in my experience, it’s one of two things. 1) Mental illness, or 2) the kid doesn’t have someone in their life teaching them and holding them accountable (this is far more common). It makes me sick to hear people blame kids for things that aren’t even remotely their fault. They are just doing and acting the best way they know how.
It got pretty lonely after that. That summer I was also summoned by a different youth leader who’s sole purpose was to tell me to have a good attitude and that I had control over 30 to 40 other people and what they did. Not long after, my mom took me to a psychiatrist. She said she really knew something was wrong when I asked her why everybody could see these good things about me I couldn’t see.
I was put on a very low dose of Prozac, and within two weeks, it was like I was a different person. Everybody seemed to be talking about it. But for me, I just felt alone. I didn’t want to tell people I was on medication, but I also didn’t want people to think I had finally just decided to be a nice person either. It was difficult and something I can still feel today.
My son was born on January 12, 1999. He had blonde hair and was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe he was mine. I finished high school and worked two jobs to pay for the things he needed. My family was always there, and I am so grateful he never had to spend time in day care because there was family who could watch him.
In January of 2003, I married my husband. He had four kids already, and I had Justin. Because he is 12 years older than me, he wanted to start trying right away. In October of 2003, Chad Anthony was born. In 2005, we had our baby, Lily Grace. For about 10 years, we did pretty good taking care of our kids and living life together.
Then in 2013 and 2014, we separated for about six months each time. The first time I left because I wanted change, and I believed God has a way He wants marriage to look. God hates divorce, but I felt like there could be worse things. I know many don’t agree, but I’ve seen what bad marriages can do to kids, and it’s not in any way OK. Both times we separated, I also had an emotional affair, with the same man, who lived a thousand miles away. In 2014, my husband filed for divorce, and we signed divorce papers. You should know, after we signed the papers and left, my husband called me. He said, ‘You want to pull over for one more hug?’ I didn’t. I really didn’t. But I did, and as I got back in my car, he said, ‘I love you.’ I add this because only two people who love each other more than themselves would do that.
About two weeks after that, I was at the house for some reason. My husband looked at me and said, ‘If we are gonna try one more time, I have some conditions. I think you have a mental health problem, and I could never forgive myself for divorcing you if that’s the case. So I want you to find someone who can do testing. I will pay for it and even go with you. If you will do that, then I will go to counseling with you.’ (Previously he was adamantly against counseling.) He also had some other conditions: a new email, Facebook account, and phone number. No social media besides Facebook. All of which I accepted. I honestly believed I would get tested and he would have to confront HIS issues, because there was nothing wrong with me.
Boy was I wrong! At the age of 33, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with negativistic features and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Talk about a LOT of change. I’m pretty sure I barely spoke for two weeks. I believed it was true because her diagnosis sounded exactly like me, but how could I go so long and have nobody notice?
However, one thing was clear to me. God knew exactly what He was doing all along. He allowed me to have my son to save my life. And I mean that with every fiber of my being. While I still did many unhealthy things after he was born, I was limited by being a mother and being with my son when I wasn’t working. But I could see it. It was like in a movie when they pan out and you can see the big picture. I could SEE the picture. All those years of not feeling good or worthy enough fell by the wayside. I knew the answer to why for the first time, and it was beautiful. I could also clearly see if it hadn’t been for husband, I may have never known. I may have never known anything different than what I had always known.
When my husband and I got married, most people had serious concerns. He was 34, and I was 22. I am his fourth wife, and he is my first. He had four kids, and I had one. Pretty much no one thought we would make it. I even had one friend stop talking to me because she just knew I was doing the wrong thing. FYI, 16 years later we are still here, and she has gotten divorced and remarried. My grandpa told me his 60 years of marriage counseling as a preacher taught him what I was doing was wrong and we wouldn’t make it. They were wrong. They were all wrong. And my only hope now, is our story will inspire others.
God knew what He was doing!!! My husband and I have been to hell and back multiple times. But we have always kept coming back to each other and loving each other. Because of him, I now take medication and go to counseling, and I am a different person than I was just 5 short years ago. God has blessed me beyond anything I could have ever asked for. My baby, Lily, has allowed me to see who I could have been if not for my illness. And I couldn’t be more overcome with pride and love for her.
Those good things inside of her are very often a reflection of my heart. She has allowed me to be able to forgive myself for being a ‘bad kid.’ She has showed me those good and amazing things in her are in me as well. I can’t share my story without tearing up a little here and there, and I know that will never change. God knew exactly what he was doing with every step I have ever taken, and despite adult people who tried to crush me, I have built a good life. One filled with love, kindness, understanding, honesty, and most importantly, a devotion that transcends anything else. I am more healthy today than I ever have been. I still have bad days, and even bad months at times. But I’m learning they will, in fact, pass and I’m not going to feel that way forever.
My husband is a saint. I have never, and will never, regret the life we have together. He changed my life. In many ways, he saved my life. I wouldn’t be who I am without him. While I don’t advocate dating for three months and then getting married, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love sharing my life with him, and I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else. So, when you feel lost and broken, just remember God has a plan. You may not see it today or tomorrow, or even for 15 years, like me. But I promise when you see it, it will take your breath away. For years, I wondered why of all my friends having sex, I got pregnant. That question was answered the day I was diagnosed with my illnesses. God used one of my biggest mistakes to help save my life and to give me much more than I ever deserved. I stand in awe that such a God loves me enough to save me. And not just once, but over and over again.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jennifer Osborn. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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