When I was in high school I sent a guy a picture of myself. I wasn’t fully naked and you couldn’t really see my face, but when he sent the picture around to all his guy friends, they all knew it was me. This was my sophomore year of high school, when I thought my life was ruined forever by this stupid thing I did. All because I wanted the new popular kid to notice me. Stupid. But it just got worse.
By junior year a rumor had spread around that I was fingered at a club. Which is ironic because the person who started it also tried to stop it and is now my best friend of 10 years. And what had really happened was that a guy tried to get in my pants and I had to push him away after he had forced himself on me in the middle of a dance floor. And I had confided in my friend because I was now afraid to go back to this place I enjoyed hanging out at, but instead of helping me he decided to use this information against me when we got into a fight. I was 16.
By 17 I was sitting in the bathroom for lunch because my friends thought I had, “changed” but what had really happened was that I had a bully and anytime I would reach out to my friends about it, they’d acknowledge it and tell me to “get over it.” But how can you ignore a guy grabbing your ass in homeroom almost every morning? How can you ignore someone who would call you names anytime they saw you in the hallway? Or when they saw you in class, they would call you a slut and ask you how your STD’s were. …how could my friends ignore that someone was doing this to me? I even recorded his voice on my phone one day in class as he picked on me, the teacher didn’t do anything about it, even after I begged for him or myself to be removed from the class. His solution was to move his desk away from mine. And even when one of my closest friends was sitting behind me listening to the ridicule and torment I was going through, she told me I didn’t have thick skin, and continued to laugh at his jokes. But it just got worse.
By the end of junior year, I had noticed my best friend in the entire world was acting different. She liked a boy and wouldn’t tell me who, but I could tell she was so happy. Turns out that boy was my predator. I was scared for her, I didn’t want anyone to hurt her, especially someone who had been haunting me, because she was my best friend. So while no one had the guts to defend me, I defended her. I went up to him at the end of history class and told him that if he were to hurt my best friend in any way, that I would ruin his life. Well, less than a day later my best friend ended me. She picked me up from dance practice, drove me home, and told me she never wanted to speak to me ever again.
I literally felt like my whole life was caving in. I had lost practically all of my closest friends and any that I did have didn’t believe what I was going through or maybe just didn’t care enough to get involved.
When you’re a teenager you feel like what you’re going through will never go away, like you’re stuck with this pain forever, and that’s exactly how I felt.
I couldn’t talk to my mom because she was deaf. I couldn’t talk to my friends because they didn’t care. And I didn’t feel comfortable going to the school’s guidance counselors. Why? Because I was a good kid, I had never stepped foot in the office or councilors rooms before. I didn’t even know all of their names. I always played it safe in school. Tried to get by by making sure my grades were good, participating in extra curricular’s, I always tried to make sure nothing bad happened to me. But it did anyway.
I don’t know why he picked on me. But year after year he picked on me. Whether that was calling me a German shepherd because of my hair color, calling me a slut for getting fingered, making fun of my name and yelling “Jennay” across the halls, or inappropriately touching me whenever he got the chance. So, I spent the rest of junior year eating lunch in the bathroom to hide. I just needed to get by. I wasn’t like Hannah, I didn’t want to kill myself. I tried cutting and using rubber bands, but it didn’t really make me feel any better. Luckily, I was on the dance team which ended up being my greatest escape from the world. That really got me by.
I had other resources, but that’s because I had to push myself to get there. I couldn’t sulk in my sorrows. I knew that high school would be over soon and I’d have other adventures. I had a future worth living for.
One day a councilor found me sitting in one of the bathroom stalls. I was brought into her office and well, I broke down. I’m not really sure how or why, but I just told her everything I was going through. I had thought, someone else has to be going through what I am. It’s high school, shit happens. And maybe I’d be helping someone else by saying something.
Not too much longer after that day he was suspended. I still had to face him in the halls and in classes for the remainder of high school, but the summer after junior year I had made new friends and reconnected with past friends and they made things just a little bit easier. They protected me. They walked with me in the halls, and if we walked passed him and my ex best friend, they made sure to walk on the side closer to them. When I had homeroom with him in senior year, I’d leave and go to a friend’s classroom so that I didn’t have to be around him. I was lucky. But I also had to fight for myself. I had to look out for myself and tell someone about what was going on, and make new friends. I had to do that myself. I would never call Hannah’s story weak, because sometimes depression gets the better of us. And that’s probably why I suffer more anxiety now than I ever did growing up. I became strong in some areas in my life but still struggle with other parts.
I can’t say that now when I talk to a guy I think he’s going to fuck me up or do something inappropriate, but the times where I’ve seen (C & M’s) pictures or have seen them in person I go into a sudden shock. Like my whole body collapses, like I’m reliving everything that happened to me in school. Like he’s going to walk over to me and grab my boobs like he did in high school…
I’ve been out of high school for 6 years now and he still scares me. He scares the shit out of me. And I’m scared for other girls that he’s around, because I know he hasn’t changed. Because I watched him grope a girl he had just met at a bar. I went up to the girl after it had happened, because I knew her and wanted to make sure she was OK. I wouldn’t want another girl getting hurt.
Majority of the time I don’t think about stuff like that, but sometimes I can’t help it, especially when I watch 13 Reasons Why. While Hannah’s experiences were a lot more dramatic than mine, I feel like I can still relate. I battle anxiety and depression all of the time, but it’s my own terrors that are causing it. No one is hurting me mentally or physically (anymore that is), which is what helps me get out of any state of depression or anxiety attack I might be having. My first boyfriend when I was 15 told me about the book 13 Reasons Why. I read it 3 times my sophomore year, and who knows, maybe that’s what also helped me get passed the shit I was dealing with, maybe I knew I didn’t want to end up like Hannah. I’m not sure, but I know that watching it now and watching the second season has brought up so many old feelings. But I think that what I’ve been through has helped shape who I am now as an adult. In many many good ways, I feel stronger as a person.
When everyone who you thought was supporting you is no longer there makes you really have to be alone with your own thoughts and feelings. Is this my fault? What is wrong with me? And I definatly acted out because of it, I used social media as a scape goat to hide from the real world- I thought it would solve all of my problems to make them look like the bad guys, when I reality it just made me look worse. I had to learn to take the high road. It’s made me more high maintenance as a friend thought, because I know what I deserve now.
But unfortunately, I’m still working on that with guys. Because I still pick the guys who fuck with my head. And I still blame everything on myself. And sometimes I still trust guys too much. All of these reasons are part of why I started My Dating Blog- because sometimes my anxiety gets in the way of dating, my past gets in the way of dating, and I’m trying to figure out what I really should be doing and what real love is supposed to look like.
I don’t have all of the answers, but I know that my past doesn’t define who I am. That picture I sent to that guy in sophomore year doesn’t define me. And that guy who put his hands on me and made fun of me in front of many of my schoolmates doesn’t define me. I am a girl who has been through some fucked up shit- her whole life. But she’s still here. Because she knows she has a bright future with some bumpy roads.