Sarah has been through a great deal in her young life. She comes from a broken home, her mother is an alcoholic, her father has spent most of her lifetime in jail.
Sarah (16) has an older brother who introduced her to drugs at the age of eleven. The two of them spent several years doing whatever they pleased as no one was around, or cared enough, to stop them.
At the time of our conversation, Sarah was eight months sober and one of the things she was challenged with in her recovery was setting healthy physical boundaries with her new boyfriend.
Essentially, Sarah didn't want to have sex with him. Not that she didn't find him very physically appealing, she just knew she was lucky she had made it to sixteen without becoming pregnant or testing positive for an STD. Sarah knew in her heart she wanted to keep it that way.
Not surprisingly, this young girl who was trying to make healthier choices for herself, was getting a lot of pressure from her boyfriend. Apparently he knew she had been sexually active before their relationship began, and he did not understand or appreciate her decision to remain abstinent.
I could tell Sarah was really struggling with this situation in her life. She thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her boyfriend and she was afraid if she stuck to her guns he would leave her.
As I listened to Sarah, I wondered [as I often do] what I might say that could be helpful...
"Sarah, this is your body, you have every right to decide what you'll do with it. Just because you did something BEFORE does not mean you have to do it NOW. You can change your mind about what you'll do, where you'll draw the line, at any time."
Sarah started to cry. And then she said thank you. It was like she needed to hear someone say she had permission to say no.
I had to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep myself from crying because I was so touched by her honest, authentic reaction. And, honestly, because I so wished someone had said the same words to me when I was a teenage girl.
We have all made some mistakes in life, we have all crossed lines at times and wished we'd have done something different.
And, often once you do something, you feel like you can't reverse the direction.
In this case I think you very much can.
So...if you are a young girl who has "gone too far" and now feels like you have no choice but to have sex with every boy who comes into your life, I want you to know that you don't have to.
And, if someone you are dating tries to make you feel bad, or pressures you to change your mind, he is not worthy of your time. Period.
I think this is a great song that captures exactly what I mean to convey with this post, please take a minute to listen.
*Sarah, not her real name, is just one of my favorite girl names.