In seventh grade, I met a guy named James. That’s not actually his name, but I’m going to spare him of unwanted Internet fame (just kidding, I’m not famous) no matter how horrible he was to me. So, James, if you ever read this, which you won’t, you should be very grateful.
To me as a twelve-year-old girl, James was beautiful. I loved his eyes, his devilish smile, and most of all, his smooth mop of golden-blonde hair. Naturally, as a boy-crazy preteen (and a hopeless romantic since birth), I started daydreaming about our life together. And by life, I mean two months holding hands in the hallways. While most girls my age were secretive about their crushes, I wasn’t. After all, those girls never got the guy! Naive and gullible, I chose to believe that I was ready for a “relationship” at the tender age of twelve.
I’ve always had this way of developing fifteen-minute crushes. The only difference between me now and me then was that I did not ignore these yearning, romantic thoughts–I acted on them in hopes of finding my “knight in shining armor.” My romantic, imaginative side combined with my reckless naivety was a terrible mix. I liked my friend, Marcus (not his real name), who rejected me saying I’d “ruined the friendship.” Which was probably true, I’ll admit. Then I liked this guy Daniel, whom I’d never met before. I’d just seen him in the hallways, and according to me then, in a dream. I remember approaching Daniel in the lunchroom like this: “Hi, I’m Abigail.” I paused a little, then added, “I’m free on Saturday.” I was insane. Word of my craziness got around, and pretty soon kids I knew, some I didn’t know were walking by me, snickering, and saying “Hi, I’m [insert their name here].”
But I was sure that James, Daniel’s friend, absolutely loved me. I had no idea of anything at that point in my life. What a terrible, terrible mistake I made by liking him. James used me as a source of laughter, yet I never acknowledged it. I simply told myself it was his way of “telling me he loved me.” He’d IM me things like “nobody likes you,” “you’re obsessed with sex,” “f— you” and others. We had a note-passing conversation in class (basically me begging him to love me), after which he threatened to post the entire thing on his social networking (he’d blocked me from seeing his profile when I tried to check, so I’ll never know if he did or not). He’d mock me and taunt me from across the room. He gave me his number, trying to trick me, which turned out to be the number of his friend’s mother. At lunch one time, I saw him passing one of my many silly notes to him around to all his friends. I remember snatching it from their hands, angry, and the entire group laughed at me (my first reaction was to flip them all off and run to the library and cry. Not the smartest thing to do). James told all my friends that I was a “freak that nobody should talk to” and that they should stop hanging out with me–a slut. Ugly. A stalker who’d never get a guy. This kid actively searched for ways to harass me. He never missed an opportunity.
The final straw was when I intercepted a note he was passing to his friend–a drawing of me. I can’t describe the drawing, but I will tell you that it was incredibly degrading and humiliating. I finally realized that no, this snot was not a friend or a potential “boyfriend”; he was a bully. He was destructive. It took me far too long to stop lying to myself and realize it.
I wish I could say that James left me alone after I stopped obsessing over him. He’d still throw bits of paper at me in class, try to trick me into believing he liked me, make his friends laugh at me, and make very inappropriate and uncomfortable comments at me. The difference was that I’d stopped allowing myself to just “bear the pain for the sake of love.” Love. Love?! Hardly!
The pain that James had caused me had turned into hatred and loathing anger. The hatred, believe it or not, eventually turned into a twisted sort of confidence. I felt that as long as I hated James, he’d never be able to hurt me. He would approach me, say something, and angrily I would say “No. Sit down.” If he wanted to pass me notes, he’d have to move his lazy butt and give them to me himself. Some of the things he said still found their way past my blockade, but I absolutely refused to let him dump crap in me like a dirty plastic bag. I built a high, strong wall that I would hide behind for the rest of the year and into the next one.
I have not seen or contacted James since the last day of seventh grade. I hope I never will. One person who hurt me immensely in the past has actually apologized, and I’ve wholeheartedly forgiven this person, but not James. Never him. I don’t believe he will. He’s one of those people who I can see growing up to be a slick, slime-bucket Congressman. Maybe he’ll change. I sure hope so. James caused tremendous damage in the short year he was in my life. The heartache that he left behind is still very real to me. Every once in awhile, he’ll show up in my nightmares, with the same devilish smile and cruel laugh I once foolishly adored. I still brace myself emotionally when I hear his name, even though I know we’ll never speak again. If I were to ever see him in a store or public area, I’d probably run the other way like a wounded gazelle.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to keep my head up and walk right on by.