Nine years ago I was starting a new high school. I was a junior, transplanted by parental force. I cried before and after my mom dragged me to register for classes. I was rejected by the in-crowd before I even began school, at one of my brother’s baseball games because I wrongly responded, “not really” when asked if I partied. I wanted to say yes, but I knew eventually they would discover my innocence.

I retreated every piece of me that was outgoing and extroverted. I had been the class president, now I would be no one. I became fiercely focused on running and weight. I barely had room to make friends this way. When the season ended, I found myself yearning for a new focus. I started dating the first guy that paid me any attention, despite not really enjoying anything about him save for the fact that he said I was pretty.

I wasn’t allowed to go on dates before him, and was consequently extremely inexperienced. One winter evening we were with a small group of friends in his backyard. Around 11pm, the others headed home. We were sharing a blanket and not particularly visible to the house, the way the patio furniture was situated. I never enjoyed kissing him and thought about other things whenever we would–this night was no different. Unexpectedly, his hand made its way from my neck to my face and didn’t stop until it was on top of my head. I didn’t understand. And then I did. No. Definitely not. No way. I’m not doing that. What if my dad found out. What if his parents decided to come outside. I don’t even like him. Why is he doing this? He thinks I’m pretty. I’m so disgusting, why does he tell me I’m pretty? I don’t want to do this. The pressure of his hand on my head was getting more intense. I wanted to throw up and cry and run away all at the same time. What did I get myself into? Who is this guy? He’s not even asking me if I would… I couldn’t resist his strength for much longer, I had to make a decision. I needed to do what he wanted or get up and leave. If I don’t do it, he’ll break up with me. 

I arrived to school the following Monday with the incident buried. I would never tell anyone. It was my dirty secret, I could pretend it never happened. Until, as the day progressed, I realized everyone knew.

I didn’t shed a single tear at that school. I came home and almost always headed straight for the shower. I stepped in, and crumbled to the ground; my forehead resting on my knees and my arms wrapped around my legs. I sobbed quietly enough so as not to be heard while the water spewing from the shower head pelted my back.

I broke up with him a week later. He cried. I hated him for crying because he didn’t deserve to express anything that might make me feel bad for ending it. I didn’t stop the incident from happening, it was definitely my choice. I clearly thought about the options for 1.5 seconds. The way he put his hand on my head, and the force I felt from it was unforgivable though. I knew it wasn’t supposed to work like that and swore to myself I would never, ever, ever, fail myself in that way again. My innocence and sexual inexperience was mine to have and give on my own terms. I didn’t let anyone enter the military-strength fort I built around myself for years after that.

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