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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When I was 12.....

I made a new friend.  She was a new face at the bus stop and she seemed older, cooler than the rest of us.  While we were all crossing our books to hide chests we weren't quite comfortable with yet, she knew early to wear clothes to show off those particular assets.  When boys came up to talk to us and we would giggle nervously, not sure what to say, she'd flash a smile so bright it competed with the sun and there wasn't an awkward moment to be witnessed.   Oh, how I wanted to be like her....

I'm sure around this time, boys were still terrified of girls their age...I mean I've witnessed firsthand what a 13 year old boy acts like and it's certainly not the whole fawning over the opposite sex that I remember from my  youth.

I had so many marks against me.  I was never tiny...but not fat...just not tiny like my friends.  And while I was a bit aware of my aura every time I came to school, I was certain the gallons of perfume on my clothing masked the stench of cigarette smoke being emitted from my body.  Sleepovers were a nightmare.  My freshly cleaned pillow, which smelled wonderful and flowery in MY house, smelled like a rotten, smoldering pile of ash in the clean, smoke-free homes of my friends.  I could have been Miss America, crown and all, but that smell really was awful and I am so thankful I didn't realize how bad it was when I was growing up.  It was awful. (As a side note I missed a lot of school because of upper respiratory infections.  The doctor would say, in front of me, "J, you need to stop smoking, if not altogether, than at least go outside.  These infections are a direct result of the exposure these kids have..." and she'd sort of hmph, get the magical paper of healing, get out to the car....and light up.  Right there....)

In hindsight, I realize the boys (yes, more than one) of my dreams weren't even ready to acknowledge girls period, but my new friend had a totally different perspective.  The key, she assured me....was in my virginal status.  Because I had never had sex (come on, I was TWELVE already...way too old for such nonsense) boys would NOT like me.  And until I took care of this pesky little problem, I could forget the whole boyfriend thing.  Boys do NOT like virgins.  Don't have time for them.  I thought this was crazy, of course, but boy after boy...rejected me and went for her.  She was chubby, didn't dress well, was very poor and yet...all the boys liked HER.  What the heck?  I conceded eventually she must be right.  She HAD to be right.  She was accomplishing what I wanted and to this day if someone manages to accomplish something I want to accomplish, I will still look to see what they are doing that I'm not...

I am not sure how the rest happened.  I had my own phone number and one day this boy called, meaning to call someone else.  Noticed it was a girl on the other end...asked me some questioned.  I giggled and hung up.  I told my friends about it and when they were over, he called again.  Pretty Girl talked to him and found out he lived very, very close to our house.  She starts talking about "meeting" and I am aghast.  The only boys I have any exposure to are in school...that's it.  She convinces me and my other friend to have a sleepover...and to invite these boys to hang out in my bedroom via the window.....

Now before y'all start thinking about what a trouble-maker I was, I can assure you I was the typical "good kid"  It drove my trouble-making sister insane.  Good grades, good attitude, good everything.  I wasn't "that girl" (and I later realize, there isn't a THAT girl...she's ME...)

The night comes and I do NOT want to do this. I want to tell my mom, but my mom doesn't listen and freaks out about everything and I can't chance losing this friend.  My friends know how mean my mom is and they are my solace. I started seeking approval from peers at a very young age....and this time the stakes were high.  I adored this girl.  I truly believed she cared about me.  I remember she told me to go take a bath and she and my other friend would clean my bedroom and pick out a cute outfit for me.  All the while, I am screaming inside.  I want to just stay in my bathroom...or my living room.....But I take my bath and go back into my room where Pretty Girl is waiting with my outfit and a  pep talk.  It's not big deal she says....just some boys coming over to hang out and if I'm lucky....I won't have this pesky virgin thing hanging over my  head anymore.

I. Was. Twelve.  Do you know how YOUNG that is??? How LITTLE???  How innocent...???

The boys came.  Three of them.  Three boys, three girls. Pretty Girl turns the lights down low and immediately grabs one of the boys onto my bed and starts kissing him. Like MOVIE kissing him...I look over to see my other friend...and she's done the same thing....I freak out and run to my closet, purposed to stay there until it's all over.  The third boy...well where else could he go?  He followed me in.  I can't even remember if I was willing or said no..but at 12...I shouldn't have had to make that decision.  I should have said NO boys in my room, NO to my friend, but I didn't.  Everything happened so fast. Horrible.  HORRIBLE....innocence lost on the floor of my bedroom closest.

The next day we "walked to the store..." but really went to the boys house.  Nothing happened.  But we did another sleepover thing and my friend invited them back over, this time, against my will.  I stayed by the door and did my math homework.  No low lights, no making out...I was in a bad place.  My mother overheard a male voice and knocked on my door. I tried to convince her it was just the radio....She barges in...goes right to my closet where the boys are hiding and orders them out of her "effing house..."

Oh the  rampage.  THE RAMPAGE that followed.  Screaming, throwing things, tearing my room apart, reading in my diary, calling me a slut and a tramp and a whore, demanding I tell her what happened and if I didn't she'd take me to her female doctor and "Do you know what they'll do to you there?  You won't like it...she'll tell me if you're slutting around...."

I needed to tell her.  I wanted to tell her.  I was HURT.  Something had been taken from me and my GOD I needed to tell someone.  It was all wrong.  I needed a Mom.  I needed her years and years before...and I needed her to explain to me that this friend wasn't a friend at all...that boys that want this from a girl they don't even know are BAD BAD BAD...I needed to be protected and yes, sheltered because I wasn't ready for this...

It ended up that the friend in question was in an abusive home, being sexually abused by her step-father and I found out recently that her little brother forced sexual acts on someone else my mother could have protected...where was SHE?  How did she not know?  I'm super paranoid about who my children interact with and if I have a bad feeling ,I  go with it.  I want to know who they are with, what the family is like, and honestly, they don't do a whole lot of sleeping over or otherwise with other families, unless I KNOW it's okay.  And I do mean KNOW, as in "What are your feelings about molestation???"  And even when I've allowed a sleepover, if my feeling changes, if ANYTHING presents itself that makes me uncomfortable, I pull the plug. No apologies, no explanation.

One of my mother's proudest "moments" and one she refers to often, as if to convince herself that she was a "good mom" is how I "came to her" when I had my first serious boyfriend and told her we were thinking about becoming intimate.  She still doesn't know that we already were intimate and the only reason I told her is because my older brother had been sleeping with my friend (10 years younger) and when she broke it off, he essentially said I should stop being her friend or he'd tell my mom about my boyfriend and me.  I figured telling her myself was the better option....

And that he was far from my first....

Or my last....

I want better for my children.


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