I’ve always been an emotional person.
When I love you, it’s forever. When you’re my friend, I hold fast and hard. I am easily swayed by your opinion of me yet I am always fiercely independent. I am my own person who won’t change that for anything. I stand up for what’s right and I’m not afraid to tell you what I think.
When I was eighteen, I had what I call my summer of hell where I still speak bitterly. It was the summer where I died and lived and the summer I hope to never repeat.
I met a guy who I truly believe hated me, or at least despised who I was.
To protect everyone involved, I will not give names or exact dates and even now writing this is very, very, hard. He was the kind of guy everyone liked. He said “ma’m” and “sir” and showed up to work on time. He said the right things and did the right things and was much more mature than most teenage guys.
But he strongly, strongly, disliked me.
I remember sitting across from him and feeling the tension. Even my sister said it was probably all in my mind. “He’s not that bad,” she said.
I wish she had been right.
I really, really, wish it.
But he manipulated those around me, talking dirty about me behind my back, and when I confronted him about he would smile and say I was overreacting. People thought I was lazy, and when I told them what was going on — that he was lying and none of what he said was true — they said it was in my head. I was “imagining it,” and “he wasn’t involved,” but I knew from my brothers what was really happening.
I spent evenings sobbing on the floor for hours. I screamed and ranted and raged and had countless mini mental breakdowns. I would go for runs and feel better for an hour and then fall back into the anger and defeat.
My parents told me not to go back to work but I refused. He would see that as winning because people giving up were his victories and I refused to be his victory.
And I hated him.
I knew God said to love your enemies and pray for them but to this day I don’t know if I can bring myself to truly forgive him fully. Each day when I think of him is a process of forgiving him again and again. He hurt me so deeply sometimes I can still hear his voice. I dreamed about him for nights on end.
It was the hardest summer of my life.
It was my summer of hell.
I remember my last day on the job watching him drive off and thinking that was it. Everything would go away. I was going to be ok.
But the words someone tells you once can be repeated over and over in your mind. You can become your own worst enemy and relive each moment.
Hating him felt good for a long time.
Four years have passed but the anger and rage hasn’t completely disappeared. I haven’t brought myself to really look at the photos from that year because everything surfaces again. I want to see him again so I can tell him what I think, that I’m not the same girl he left behind. I am stronger. I am a fighter. I am not his pain.
But that’s not the point of this post because seeing him again won’t heal me. Telling him my mind won’t heal me.
From having a friend bully and betray me around the age of twelve to be verbally brought low again in a similar way in my teens, made me deeply broken. I am a person who takes words very seriously. I take your opinions seriously. I take what you think of me seriously.
To have these moments in my life was scarring. But yes, I was a naive and innocent being from a conservative pastor’s home, I’ll be the first to admit. I didn’t understand fully how I needed to defend myself or how to tell the right people, and instead of addressing the issues head on, I stored the rage. Instead of bringing everything to light, I held it in to fester and rot.
It was a terribly unwise and immature choice, but a choice I made nonetheless. I allowed two peoples’ opinions to dictate me.
Maybe these incidents were minor compared to what some people deal with. I will NEVER take abuse lightly, and what I struggled with was so very minor compared to the people who are continually abused verbally, physically and sexually. I have heard stories that left me in tears.
This was not me.
But yet I have also learned that no circumstance should be let down no matter how minor to another’s story. Our stories are still our stories. They are there to shape and make us who we are, and that can be a good thing or bad thing.
Sadly, I allowed my circumstances to tell me who I am.