Wow. ❤ ❤ First, I want to say a deep, heartfelt Thank You to everyone who has written about their experiences, and everyone who has reached out to me so far about mine. I cannot thank you enough for the loving and caring support you’ve shown me (via the comments section on this blog) and the world at large (by the posts you’ve written on yours). I know that these posts are tough to write, tough to read, tough to Like, and tough to Comment on. Despite that, you/we come forward. You/we raise your hand, you/we hit those Like buttons on the blog posts out there, and/or you/we comment in solidarity with each other. That’s important, y’all. That’s what this movement is all about. It sucks, having to relive our experiences all over again. Experiences that we’ve tried so hard to forget, shove down, ignore, accept, heal from, learn from, and so on. And here we are, picking at the scars and opening the wounds fresh once again. That’s part of the process. It hurts, and it usually knocks out the–day? Week? Month? (Who knows?) And yet, we’re doing it. You’re doing it. And for that, your fellow sisters (and brothers) thank you.
There are way too many Me-Toos, aren’t there? Looking around, practically everyone we know has been victimized in some way. This is not an easy topic to talk about, but it’s a conversation that has to be had. The world can ignore the elephant in the room all it wants to, but that doesn’t mean that it ceases to be there. Shedding light on an unpleasant topic is hard. When I wrote last night’s post, a weird, oily, sour emotional film fogged me in.
This is the first step, y’all. A prerequisite for real change, if you will. I’m not fooling myself into thinking that a monumental transformation will blanket the world any time soon, but these stories and comments and whatnot are the underpinnings of one, so let’s keep going!
Speaking of keeping on going, this post is a Chapter 2 of my personal “Me Too” story. There are four “chapters” in all. I will turn this into a tagged mini-series for easy access and navigation.
From here on, I’m issuing obvious Content Advisories/Warnings for the usual reasons. This may or may not get graphic. We’ll see. ❤
Chapter 2 actually occurred before Chapter 1. This takes place in what used to be known as junior high school (up until the mid-1990s, in my area of the US, and has since become known as “middle school”).
I was in Grade 9, which puts me at about 15 years old.
So was he.
We’d been platonic friends since Grade 6, when his family moved to our town from South Africa. We’d all hung out – the new kid, his brother (one year younger), and the mutual friend through whom we’d met. We played Four-Square at recess after lunch, and we had a lot of fun.
(The only reason I’m declining to name him is to keep my own anonymity iron-clad, although I may change my mind and name him anyway. We’ll call him by his initials, “SB”; have (re)vengeful fun with that as you will. <Insert devilish grin here.> 😉 )
Anyway, Grade 6 games of Four-Square at recess gave way to the recess-less junior high and after-school sessions of computer nerding out. I learned a lot about DOS commands, image formats like GIF, and the constraining storage limitations of 1.4″ floppy disks. I was inducted into a world I had longed to join! Nobody had ever taught me about this stuff before.
It’s been so long that I’m not exactly certain how nerding out at the computer gave way to getting felt up in a scantly-trafficked semi-underground tunnel over lunch at school, but it did, so I’m sure that a conversation and a few non-verbal moves had to have taken place. I’m pretty sure that it went something like this:
“Hey–wanna go out?”
“As in, steady?”
“Does that mean you’re my boy/girlfriend now?”
“I think so, yeah.”
I’m not sure which one of us held which side of the conversation, but in the end it didn’t matter. Poof!–just like that, I had a boyfriend, and SB had a girlfriend.
He was my first, but I don’t know if I was his. A lot can happen for a German white kid in South Africa.
Because he was my first steady boyfriend, my resume was blank. I had no experience. I wasn’t sure exactly how to proceed from there. OK, we’re boyfriend-girlfriend; now what?
I vaguely figured we’d go out to movies, go to each other’s houses for dinner, maybe even hug or kiss at some point. Everything else would simply work itself out. But I wasn’t entirely sure about anything, so I left the proverbial window open.
I might not have had any concrete ideas, but SB sure did.
“We can meet in that hallway down by the shop classrooms for lunch,” he said.
No problem there. I preferred the solitude of as few people as possible.
So, we did. Before we started in on the sandwiches, grapes, carrots, and soda in our brown bag lunches, however, SB finally showed something other than nonchalance. He had an Idea.
I was curious.
He wanted us to stand up, facing each other. Then he wanted to French kiss.
I have never, ever found French kissing pleasurable or fun in any way. In fact, I’ve always found it disgusting and repulsive. The idea of someone’s tongue, spit, germs, etc in my mouth is simply a flat-out no-go. It makes me gag just watching it on a movie. I have to avert my eyes. And doing it in person is even worse. I never understood French kissing, or the allure of it, at all.
But I was passive, naive, and all that, so I went along with it. I did it. It sucked as much as I had ever imagined it would, but I did it. I didn’t know better. If my new boyfriend was acting like this is what boyfriends and girlfriends are supposed to do, then who was I to refuse?
Eating lunch in The Tunnel became a regular routine.
And the activities escalated, not too far by grown-up standards, but way too far for a first-time-dating 15-year-old, and way further than I was comfortable with them going.
One day, he wanted me to put my hand down his pants and stroke his fifth limb. I was curious about that, on more of an academic level, so although I felt funny about doing it, and even more awkward while doing it, that in itself wasn’t too traumatic. OK, it’s this thing that I don’t have. So this is what it feels like. OK, no real harm done, I don’t think.
But then he wanted to put his hand down my pants. Under the underwear. That, I wasn’t too sure about. I wasn’t emotionally ready for that.
It felt very strange to feel someone’s hands and fingers in that particular region. It was like being invaded by an alien. Fingertips creeping through the “forest”, finding the Outer Limits, with minds of their own. I tried my best to derive some kind of pleasure–after all, this is what people do, right? The world makes such a fuss, has such a fixation, with the whole topic that I figured I’d see shooting stars at the mere touch of certain areas.
Nothing. I felt flat. I got bored. I wondered when he would be satisfied and finally stop. I wondered what the hell kind of person I was to agree to something that I knew deep down I wasn’t ready for. I silently, inwardly talked myself into it, telling myself that it’s just touching, just exploring, just curiosity.
But with the vigor with which SB felt me, it felt to me like more than curiosity. It felt like almost an aggression, a seeking of control, a purely selfish gratification.
He wanted to penetrate even further, but I was not receptive to that, either mentally/emotionally or physically/physiologically.
I was confused. How had things escalated this far, and without any kind of warmup? Where was the love? The affection? The dating? The hugging? The kissing? The “I love you”s? The sweet stuff?
This was not sweet. This was simply brute libido, in an adolescent costume.
I felt so conflicted between my desire to be wanted, my desire to explore, my discomfort about what we were doing, my gut-knotting dread of every looming lunch period, my lack of strength to say no and progress on mutual terms that were OK with me, and my confusion over whether or not I was being victimized. Such themes swirled angrily through my fibers.
One day, as we made our way to The Tunnel, I realized he had had other girlfriends, too, back in South Africa. I asked him what it had been like, did they (he and them) always do stuff like this, or did they ever take things more slowly? Was there ever any hugging or dry kissing?
“Sure,” he said.
So what was I? If he was OK hugging and kissing them and showing them love, was I not worth that? Was I fucking chopped liver?
Yes, I had started to get irritated by now. I can only be passive for so long. Unfortunately, too long, but only-so-long nonetheless.
“Why can’t we do that?” I asked him.
“Because I was younger then, and we’re older now,” he replied.
Oh fuck that.
It took me a hell of a long time to summon up the hell of a lot of courage that I needed to finally tell him that I was going to be having lunch with another friend that day. I was weak, meek, and timid by nature, so each day I had to come up with another excuse. And I didn’t have a whole lot of “another friend”s; I simply made them up, and I think he caught onto that pretty quickly. Once that cover story wore itself out, I went to the library to “look something up” (which I did – I read like hell) and started spending my lunch hours in there, sneaking my sandwiches behind the bookcases, out of eye-shot of the head librarian’s desk.
I finally did overtly tell him that I wasn’t ready for this just yet. And maybe could we put our relationship on hold?
He buttoned up, but he said “sure”.
We didn’t hang out after that.
I found my first real loving boyfriend at the beginning of Grade 10, about nine months after the fiasco with SB. We were in high school then, and SB actually came back ’round to ask me about maybe getting back together–“you know, coming off of our ‘break'”. It was then that I told him that I had a new boyfriend. I think he pushed a little further, almost implying that he wanted to continue to Do Things on the side, but I wasn’t going to do that to my new boyfriend. Or, to myself.
(Image Credit: Cyril Roland0)