I’ve been binging on Avril Lavigne’s new(ish) song “Here’s to never growing up”. In a way, she and I have grown up together. Not only are we almost the same age, I’ve listened to her for most of her career. It also helps that Butch produced a lot of her songs. Anyway, the song struck a chord with me. There’s a line about running down the street yelling kiss my ass. It reminded me of an incident that happened when I was in 8th grade.
As is the case when one is in middle school, the back of the bus was prime seating. The bus I rode had assigned seats to prevent the inevitable fights over seating. The girl assigned as my seat partner rode the bus maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I was sitting in the seat with my legs stretched out so no one could sit next to me. One of the 7th grade boys came over and told me to move my feet. I ignored him. He said it again. I ignored him again. He said it again. I told him to kiss my ass. He tucked his tail and went back to his assigned seat. He never bothered me again. If anything, he went out of his way to be nice to me. I was really proud of myself, both then and now. It’s been 15 years since then and I wonder what that girl would think of me now.
One of the groups I’m part of on Facebook asked us what relationships we were struggling with and what they’re there to teach us. Something I’ve struggled with (and I know I’ve said this before) is not blaming myself for what happened. I’ve had a hard time with my 19 year old self. I made a bad decision. That decision had consequences. By the time I realized what was going on, I felt like I was in too deep. All my friends were dating his friends. My whole social life revolved around this frat. If I left, who would I hang out with? I gave up things I loved for that relationship like theater and dance. I gave up a trip to Ireland so I could spend time with him over the holidays. He never showed. All classic signs of an abusive relationship, but I had no idea at the time. The extent of my dating experience at that point was all of 2 guys, both high school relationships. One I only dated for a few months and the other one I was never really attracted to in the first place. We were mostly just friends and he had a car. And he had a crush on someone else. When I went to college, a lot of the other girls had boyfriends already. I wanted to fit in. I can’t blame myself for that. I forget exactly how I was introduced to this frat, but I slowly got sucked into the circle. Then I met Will.
He wanted to fit in, too. He was one of the few people who was from out of state going to a large state college. A lot of the guys accused him of being gay. I was convenient and willing. I doubt he ever really cared much about me other than as a status symbol. He always had to have me on parade and show off what a great body I had. I always had to be putting on a show. My “outfits” for parties involved less and less clothing over the years. I was literally almost naked at one party. All that accomplished was earning me a reputation as a slut. He pushed me to drink. He didn’t want to have the only girlfriend who didn’t drink because that said something about him. I thought I loved him, so I did it. He invited one of his frat brothers to watch us having sex. To this day, that’s one of the most painful and humiliating experiences of my life. I always faked it with him so he’d get off me. He’d never had sex with anyone before either and watched a lot of porn, so he never knew the difference. I did what I had to do to survive. I don’t think I actually truly enjoyed sex until I met Boy. For years, I was rarely sober when I had sex (again, red flag much?). Though given what I had to compare it to, the only way to go was up. I can’t blame myself for making poor decisions. I did what I thought good girlfriends did. I realize now that’s not how it works at all. I’m not responsible for his issues or his actions.
As much as I want to say he can kiss my ass, I know that’s not going to help. Just like drinking or getting tattoos or buying stuff I don’t need. I’ll feel empowered for a moment, but then the high wears off. I’ve been most successful when I’ve well and truly come to terms with things. That relationship taught me what not to do. It taught me that I could survive pretty much anything. It taught me to stick to my values no matter what anyone says. Of course any healthy relationship will involve compromise, but there’s a difference between healthy communication and finding something agreeable to both parties and being bullied into doing something. It taught me that lashing out isn’t the answer. It’s the things that silence can say more effectively than any tempter tantrum will. Giving the world the finger won’t do anything other than make me look bad. That’s not who I want to be and that’s not what I want to put out into the world. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to cry. It’s not okay to take it out on someone else who had nothing to do with the situation. What was done to me.
I’m amazed I was able to write that all down without crying. One small step…