It had been going on for weeks….his flirting, his kindness, his deception. He listened intently when I spoke, and stood up for me when some other silly high schooler made a joke at my expense. It is only now, as a 40 year old wife and mother that I recognize what my 14 year old self was feeling…safe. His attention made me feel safe, and entirely different from my normally unsure, just on the outside of the popular crowd, girl that I actually was. He was 17, and larger than life. A junior, a football player…Mr. Popular. In my small country school everyone knew him, or feared him, or wanted to be known by him. He had a girlfriend, one of the elite, a cheerleader. I was sure that she would be fine when he broke up with her, she would bounce right back…she had everything. If only I could have seen around corners.
I remember him saying – you need to invite me over sometime when your mama isn’t there, so we can work all this out. I was so happy. He liked me. This was going to be the day that he chose me. And so when my mom left that evening, I called him. Then he was there, in my driveway, in my living room….in my bedroom, that he just had to see. In the space of a few minutes I realized that his plan, and my plan looked drastically different. Physically, he was bigger, and stronger, and suddenly pushy. Mentally, I was struggling, and strained to get back that feeling of safety that I had thought he offered me. It was gone, and so was my innocence. And then …so was he. I believe now, that I was in shock, I was shaking, and shaken. I gave him time to get home, and then I called him, crying ” what have we done?” He told me then that he was never going to break up with his girlfriend, and then he hung up on me. I cried myself to sleep, broken open. Surely, at school he would be different.
Morning came, and I walked through the halls searching the faces for his. There he was, standing by the water fountain with a group of friends. I gathered all the courage that the 14 year old me had, and walked over. He grinned at his friends, then bent and filled his mouth with water. He raised his head from the fountain, and spit all over me, covering my shirt. He walked away laughing. I walked away a ghost, where a girl had been.
All of his friends knew, and then his girlfriend. And she laid out a battle plan to make me miserable. If she only could have known…I was already in misery. She had her friends call me names, spit on me, throw things at me…classic bullying. It got so bad that my 2 best friends told me that they could not be seen with me anymore, the ridicule was running off onto them, and they just couldn’t take it. I did not blame them. I began to eat my lunch in the office, the cafeteria was too close to hell on earth. I was utterly alone. I wanted to die, but I remember thinking…I don’t know how. I don’t know how to die. I know now that I was being held by the most sacred love, but at the time I felt a nagging inside of me all the time. I changed schools several times before eventually dropping out. And for so many years that brought such shame, and sadness for what I could’ve been. The girl that was me was gone, and had to be grieved. I just found that out.
I spent the next several years looking for someone to love me, and make me feel safe. At the ripe old age of 20, I started an affair with a married man, and then I became his second wife. The lies that I believed about myself were all being confirmed, I was never good enough to be first, I was dirty, shameful, unworthy. My new husband did not know the Lord, but he was kind to me. He saved my life. And when we had been married for a year and a half THE LORD SAVED HIM ! He was a new creation. We have been married 18 1/2 years now, and it is still growing and changing. As I realize where I am fractured, and where the lies that I have believed have caused decay…even in my beautiful marriage, even in my parenting of my beautiful children….I start to heal, and hear the truth about myself. I believed that I was ugly, the Lord says I’m beautiful in an epic way (still trying to figure that one out), I believed that no one could ever really love me, the Lord says I am worth extravagant love ! My husband is the best example of this, but also my kids. I did tell my almost 14 year old this story. I was scared, and ashamed…but she cried and held me as if she knew the 14 year old me, we grieved together, and are stronger for it.
I had to pull all of this up, and sort it out. I had been naïve, mislead, and bullied…the worst part was, that I was still letting it happen as a grown woman. I am new, resurrected…a better wife, and a better mom. A better daughter. I know it was long, I hope it brought light.