I can’t say there is a lot I look back on and like about teenager me. I mean, it was the 80s, and I sported an extreme perm, wore crazy shades of makeup and legwarmers even when I wasn’t exercising. It was that era. But that’s not so much what I am referring to - I secretly harbour found memories of the 80s, just ask my three daughters.
What I didn’t like was the me on the inside; the things that went on in my head and heart.
I grew up in a Christian home, and if you had asked me about sex, I would have spouted those words: 'not until marriage'. In fact, I probably even said that to a boyfriend or six at some point in our relationships. But what my head said, my heart didn’t always follow.
My experiences with someone ‘doing what they wanted’ started at the back of a classroom in high school. I don’t even recall how I got myself into the situation, but while the teacher was up the front talking, I was sitting in the back row with two boys who thought it worth asking the question. 'Could they?' I’d said no.
Their hands did what they wanted anyway. I was mortified; they thought it was hilarious.
As I got older and relationships became more serious, a different pressure emerged. As a young sixteen-year-old, I started dating a guy who I really liked. I quickly thought myself in love. He told me he’d slept with his previous girlfriend. Suddenly, the pressure was on. How far was I prepared to go to keep this guy? How long would he be willing to ‘wait’ for me? I said no, but then, my ‘no’s got weaker. He eventually did break up with me, and it left the lingering question: how do I keep a guy interested, in love with me, if he wanted more than I was prepared to give?
One of my goals in writing Memphis Grace was to help empower young people to make decisions they are comfortable with when it comes to sex and relationships. Grace’s best friend went further than she wanted to, due to the pressure put on her by the guy she thought she was in love with.
We see the impact this can have on individuals, as well as relationships, in the pages of the novel. We also get to go through a similar journey with Grace, as she works out what she really wants in life.
Finding ‘love’ in the arms of a partner doesn’t necessarily bring happiness; but rather, happiness comes when we know who we are and what we want, and remain true to it.
Memphis Grace is available now.