Monday, April 4, 2016

Guest Blog - When You're 15

This is a guest post for my series during SAAM 2016. To find out more, visit my intro blog here.
By Kitty, Female, 22

When you're 15 and in high school everything is confusing. You've grown out of or are right in the middle of horribly awkward puberty, still have braces fenced into your face and are feeling insecure in your sister's hand-me-downs. You haven't really found who you are and you're relying on a steady diet of teen magazines, television programs and the budding social media sites of 2010 to show you who you should be, what you should look like and who you should trust. You see that in high school everyone meets their "sweetheart". Its just a classic. My parents met when they were 14 and 16, my brother and his now fiancee met as sophomores, my sister and her boyfriend that bought a house together met through a high school friend. Everything good in your life comes from high school! All good relationships stem from it right? Just look at Grease, Hairspray, Boy Meets World (okay Corey and Topanga met in middle school and are STILL ultimate goals, but I can't pull off the whole lipstick heart face), literally any teen movie or show ever. You go to high school, you fall in love, you graduate, you're happy, credits roll, the end... right? What happens after the credits? What happens after everything goes dark and you don't know who you are or why you're still alone? 

I got my braces off, started cutting my hair to look like what I thought was like Hayley Williams circa 2008, used a boxed red dye so I could be cool. I still was looking for myself and was awaiting for my fairy godmother to come by and give me my magic spell of confidence.  I was convinced I could only find this confidence from satisfying others and could only feel like I mattered through their acceptance. I thought I had found it in a guy. Some twiggy, manipulative, rather unfortunate looking and emotionally abusive asshole that I thought was my one. Looking to my family for examples, this is what was normal. You found someone you liked enough in high school to kiss in the hallways and bring around your family or be brought around their family. I set my weak mind on him and he had full control over me. I let him. I blame myself for every single thing that happened to me. I brought it upon myself because I was not strong enough to say no, to be myself, to say fuck off. 

I had let myself build up this wonderful character that I put up on a pedestal. I had built him up to be something he totally wasn't. In my head he was a wonderful listener- he would just have automatic texts to send me. He couldn't recall what I thought were important conversations. I wasn't allowed to text him more than a certain amount of times. I couldn't double text him. I distinctly remember something he told me that still haunts me and makes me feel guilty for wanting any kind of attention: "I'm not your twitter, go find someone else to bother". I mean by this time I was 16 and just dumb. I want to go back and shake the shit out of myself and say stop before any of this happens, but I can't. I'm here to tell you all my story, whether you relate to it or not. 

To zoom forward through two years of manipulation and verbal (textual?) abuse, I did the impossible! He liked me back! He decided that he liked me back after two years of me being put down over and over and over again and coming back for more every time, I was worth dating. I was now a completely blank and dead canvas for him to harm. I had dealt with self harm for about 5 years and eating disorders for about 3 years up until this point. I got good at hiding the scars, but no one knew. I hated myself so much that I was sure that the only way I could deserve or feel love was if I had earned it from someone else. I let him dictate what I wore, how I cut my hair, how I colored it, what electives I took, I even changed my schedule and went down to lower classes so I could "help him study." I really think he wanted control over me and didn't want me to be smarter or any better than him, he needed the attention. I was smarter than I let on, but I thought that he was the only person I could ever end up with so I dumbed myself down. 

It didn't take long before he thought it was time to sneak me into his room. I told my parents some lie about going to a friend's house and I went to his. When I got to his house he met me in the driveway instead of meeting me at the door like a decent person. He unexpectedly shoved me in the bushes because his mom was driving up. Instead of properly introducing me, he quite literally tried to hide me. That should have been sign #29853079845 but I stayed. I stayed because I wanted to feel wanted. 

Eventually this kind of hiding turned into me believing that I wasn't worth anything unless he said I was. Unless he said he wanted me around, no one would want me. I wasn't good enough for anything. I had no self-respect/worth/esteem/love. I wasn't myself because I wasn't anyone. I was no one. 

So this next little bit gets a little gray for me because I feel like I'm not valid enough to consider it rape, even though I didn't feel as though I could say no. 

I remember he wouldn't let me on the bed. I had to be on the floor. I didn't get to feel safe, I didn't get to say yes or no this is what I want. I didn't feel safe and I didn't feel like it fit the whole "I was assaulted in a back alley or on a subway"  thing that had been fed to me through movies or other media. I just thought "okay I can't say no because then he will be mad and he won't like me and he will hide me like he has before and he wont keep me around anymore" I was afraid of being alone and I was afraid of doing anything wrong that would make him angry at me. I couldn't say no because I was afraid of the outcome. I let this go on for almost a year. It happened at my home and at his. His more often than mine. I would wake up in the middle of the night crying because I felt trapped and scared and dreaded seeing or talking to him.  I think the "relationship" was about 9 months. When I found the strength to cut it off I remember crying because it was just a cathartic release. I was free. I was finally free to be on my own. I could do what I wanted for me. 

I know there are others who have been through way worse and I am in no way equating my experience to anyone else's, I'm just sharing my own. I didn't realize that what I went through could even be categorized as what it was until I was an adult and learned more about sex positivity and body positivity. It took a lot to get to where I am today. I hated myself a LOT when I got out of that situation, but I was proud of myself for getting out. I was happy I did it. I let my hair grow out long and down my back like I did when I was young, I dyed it a million colors and have now settled on blue which suits me very well and gives me a lot of confidence, it's very me. It took a lot to even let my current boyfriend who loves and adores me, touch me. and this  whole ordeal was almost 6 years ago. My current boyfriend and I have been together for one year. I still have problems with being triggered. I still feel sick to my stomach when I hear my abusers name or see someone that might look like him. I get sick when I have to be around anything that may remind me of it. I have someone who watches movies and shows before I do so I know I'm safe. It's not an easy thing to live with, but it's something that I've unfortunately grown both stronger and weaker from. I'm still hoping this doesn't last forever, and I'm hoping I can grow out of it forever, but I'm expecting the worst and hoping for the best.

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