- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’m 16 years old and married to a sailor. We live in Norfolk. I found you in the newspaper when I was at the hospital for an appointment.

I don’t know where to start. First of all, let me say that I am very sad and disappointed in myself. I’m not writing for advice. I’m just writing to tell my story because I think I may help other young girls in my shoes.

I thought I knew everything, especially everything about boys, sex and love. Boy, was I wrong. I should have listened to my mother.

I thought I was in love and wanted to get married just to follow my boyfriend. I want other girls to be careful what they wish for because it just might come true.

I disobeyed my mother so much. Now I realize she got so tired of fighting with me about skipping school and sleeping with my boyfriend that she finally gave up and said, “OK, do like you want to.”

I got married and moved to Virginia with my husband. We already have a daughter who is a year old and he is headed out to sea for six months. I’m no longer happy with being married and I wish I was still in school, playing volleyball and hanging out with friends. I wish I had no worries at all. Instead, I’m worried about a daughter who is sick because she is teething, paying rent and keeping an old car running. I didn’t graduate from high school and I don’t have my GED.

I realize the error of my ways and I know I can’t change anything. I can only pick up the pieces of my life and discourage other girls from making the same mistake. Don’t chase men in uniform. You may think they make a lot of money and that the military is going to take good care of you, but don’t be fooled. The pay stinks and so does the housing on base, if there is any available. Stay in school and obey your parents.

Ms. Vicki, I’m glad you are writing this column. If you don’t mind, I would like to keep in touch with you and let you know what’s going on with me. - Don’t Make My Mistakes

Dear Mistakes,

I like the saying, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

OK, you made some mistakes and did not listen to your parents. That’s something most of us have experienced, including me.

You are 16 years old, but it’s important that I talk to you like an adult because you have made some adult choices and have adult responsibility. You are now a wife and mother, and you realize being an adult is not easy. I’m sure this is what your mother was trying to protect you from.

All in all, you still can have a very productive, happy, healthy and prosperous life. You can finish your GED or your high school diploma. When that’s done, you can start college. It’s all up to you.

What you can’t do is continue to beat yourself up about the choices you made. It’s like trying to unscramble eggs; you can’t do it. You can, however, make one heck of an omelet!

You can get 2009 off to a great start. Here’s some quick advice. Visit your Navy Family Services. The counselors will direct you to educational services, parenting support and even marital support. What you need right now is someone who can listen to you, provide support and give direction to a better future.

I really appreciate you writing and sharing your story. Again, you can only start now to a better future. Start looking forward and stop dwelling on the past.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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