“If He Picks On You, He Likes You”

I have no doubt that if I had gone into those woods, I wouldn’t have come back out.

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Story time.

I remember when I was around 8 or 9 years old, I was being bullied by a boy in elementary school. This wasn’t your ordinary case of bullying. A group of friends and myself would ride to and from school on our bikes everyday, and so would a group of his friends. This boy hated me so much that he threw an actual hammer at me one afternoon while we were both riding the same route home. I biked home as fast as possible of course, told my parents, they went to his parents, and nothing was ever done. It was around this time that I heard the whole “if he’s picking on you, it means he likes you” line. And being a child who was in therapy over my brother’s death and being so young and impressionable, I believed it. I believed it until I was in my freshman year of college. And because of it, I was put through hell.

I’m going to reveal something about myself that literally only a handful of people know. There are people who have known me for 7+ years that don’t even know. My own parents didn’t/don’t know. I never told my mom before she died, but I wish I had. I guess my dad will read this and will know now.

It all started when I was 9 or 10.

There was a boy that lived in my neighborhood while I lived in Florida. Lets call him Henry, because I don’t want to reveal his actual name for my own reasons. This boy was around 13 or 14 years old, so he knew what he was doing. I was known for being open and emotional because of all the trauma I had endured. This boy figured out pretty quickly from hanging around me and friends in the neighborhood that I had developed my first crush, and it was on him. I was rebellious, I was angry at the world, and I was looking for something solid to hang onto. I was stupid, I’m lucky I’m not dead. For months, this boy lured me into the forest behind my house and “made out” with me-let’s leave it there. He’d tell me he was going to tell everyone how he felt about me, but it never happened.

Remember, I was a child.

I vividly remember one evening when my grandma was visiting. I and several friends were hanging around on the road in front of my house and Henry was there. He publicly mocked me for having a crush on him and I ended up running home in tears. Lets just say my grandma was furious. Weirdly enough, I remember the zen garden my dad had on his front porch table that day.

This boy was manipulative and disturbing, and I was too young to realize what was going on.

There was even a night where he had climbed a tree outside of my bedroom window and was trying to peer in. I remember telling my dad and him running outside with a shotgun, chasing Henry down the road.

My last encounter with Henry was a very hot afternoon. He was lurking in the woods next to my house and I was taking a walk. I stopped when I saw him, and immediately had a sick feeling in my stomach. I remained in the road while he lurked in the shadows. He begged and begged for me to give him one last kiss for old times sake, and I refused. I am so glad now, at 24, that I refused. I have no doubt that if I had gone into those woods, I wouldn’t have come back out. I can only hope that he is jailed somewhere for some reason now. But everything that happened involving him still bothers me to this day.

Thus began my venture into being with manipulative, horrible men.

Middle school was tame, because I did all I could to keep to myself. But high school was a whole different ball game. I dated one boy off and on for 3 years, constantly giving chances. After the last time, I made a horrible mistake. I was with someone who damaged my body and soul for a very long time. I stayed and stayed. I stayed when my parents wanted me to leave him. I stayed when my friends wanted me to leave him. I let myself be emotionally and physically abused because I was convinced that despite being treated so badly, it was just because he really cared about me. Yeah, I know, stupid.

I finally got some sense and got out.

I jumped from guy to guy for a while, and during one relationship, one of the worst days of my life happened. I got into a horrific car wreck with several friends, was sued personally, was pushed out of my town, and felt completely abandoned. It also still bothers me to this day and always will.

So, add that to the trauma list.

Insert emotionally abusive boy.

Desperate for something to go stable for once, I once again let myself be manipulated by someone, except this cut much deeper.

I was pulled away from my mom, my dad, my friends, my classes. I almost failed my classes, I cried all the time, I slept as much as possible to avoid fights over nothing. I was pushed, I was screamed at. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone of the opposite sex. I wasn’t allowed to be on my phone too much. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that didn’t pass his approval. I was terrified, and by the time I truly wanted to leave, I didn’t even know if my family would have me back. Thankfully, they wanted me back more than anything, and with their help and the help of my now husband of 5 years, I got out. Once again, I had believed that being loved also meant being treated like trash.

I finally broke the cycle and found someone who was none of the things I had been so used to. 11 months later, I married him. A few years later, we had a daughter. Today, we are still going strong.

He woke me up and opened my eyes to the reality of what love is supposed to be like.

I wrote this for my own peace of mind. I needed to get it out of my brain, and if it helps someone who feels trapped, then good. If someone needs to talk, I am always here.

So, girls of the world, if someone tells you that you’re being picked on because the boy likes you, don’t believe it. Someone who truly loves you will never hurt you the way I was hurt. It all starts with that one simple, stupid, well-known line.

Break the cycle.

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