I have just finished reading a book – Sunlight on my Shadow by Judy Liautaud – and I am feeling this sweet sense of sad joy. It is the story of a 16 year old girl who became pregnant. Unmarried, in 1967, when such an happening was a shameful burden on the family, most especially since the family was a “good Catholic family”.
The author described in touching detail her shame, the guilt she felt, the terrible aloneness of being a pregnant teenager in the days when that was something that was whispered about and never ever discussed in public. Never ever acknowledged. I remember those years. I remember the whispers in high school when a girl, who was obviously “bad”, became pregnant. Never was the boy a guilty party. It was always the girl. The girl who must have been too “easy”, a “slut”. No understanding for the poor girl, who was swept away by emotions she was unprepared to handle. The poor girl, whose family felt shame and a need to spirit her away, far away, where no one need know of the horrible act she had committed. The poor girl, who forever after had to live with the shame, the fear, the loss.
Judy’s journey is not an easy one and takes her many years to resolve. But resolve it she does – with courage, with spirit, with determination. In the end she feels complete, she is able to forgive herself, she is able to go on with her life. She becomes whole again. It is a sadly sweet story, and it has left me with this sense. Of what, it is hard to describe. A sense of how blessed life can be, if only we can face it head on. If only we can understand and accept ourselves.