Letter #132

Content Warning: Name-Calling, Depression, Relationship Stress, Friendship Stress 


Dear stranger,


Hope everything’s well. If not, that’s okay too. This is my experience with friendships and a strange three-day relationship, if you could even call it that. One year after COVID and I was in my freshman year in high school, I was still relearning the ropes to social situations. And to be quite honest with you, I still don’t know how I should’ve dealt with this situation, and it still kind of haunts me to this day. I didn’t have many friends and when I went into my art class on the first day of school, we were assigned seats. I was surrounded by two girls and a guy. We started to chat and eventually became really close friends. Our friend group increased to five guys and three girls, and we all laughed and joked around during the period. It was so much fun, and it finally felt like I had found my group of people. And again, I don’t know when it had all gone wrong, but I guess it was around Halloween or Thanksgiving. So, in October or November, I got really close to one of the girls, let’s call her P. She was sweet and very lovable, even though she had things going on at home with strict parents. She would casually flirt with me, and it was adorable. And then, one of the guys, named Q, was also very quick-witted and charming. He was very attractive, and I developed a full-on crush on the guy. I would help him with his work, and we got fairly close. But he chose P.


I was fine with that, even though it hurt seeing them being so affectionate in public. I brushed it off because it wasn’t my place to mess things up between them. Especially when things were going so well. I had never told P about my feelings for Q because I always figured she had a thing for him, but later on, she would mention that she thought Q would definitely choose me over her. I laughed it off, saying that he was gross or something, but it did sting a little bit.


But then the guy from my table would start talking about wanting to date, let’s call him F. He would make strange comments and create an awkward situation. Then he turned to me. He’d asked me out before, and I agreed the first time, but I realized that it wouldn’t be good for either of us because I simply didn’t have time for him, and I didn’t have  feelings for him. So, I cut the ties.


On the day we were alone at the table, it was just Q, me, and F. F would keep asking me out until I said yes. I didn’t know what to do; I just wanted it to stop. But he wouldn’t stop. He persisted until I felt forced to agree. I tried to just focus on my work, but he would touch my hand or back, and I was afraid. And keep in mind, he was a pretty big guy, so I was genuinely scared. And maybe I could’ve done something more to stop it. Maybe I should’ve said something or yelled. But I simply thought he had just really liked me, and this was his way of expressing it. I didn’t know that the feeling of the pit in my stomach was disgust. I didn’t know that my instincts were telling me to run as far as I could.


Three days later, F told me that I was a terrible partner for not reciprocating the same physical affection he gave me. I had never wanted it. I was very uncomfortable. I never really liked being touched to begin with. I started to hate his face and the way he’d show affection, but it was simply a copy of what P and Q were doing. I was simply a replica, a substitute. He didn’t like me, he just wanted someone to have a physical relationship with. And I was over it. My anger had taken over my fear and called it quits. F would get himself suspended and give me time to process everything that had happened over the last couple of months. It threw me in a state of severe depression, but I needed to get everything out of my system.


I thought about what I could’ve done every day. What I should’ve done. What I should do next. I consulted my friends, and they all told me the same thing: “give him the cold shoulder and ignore him.” I was overtaken by my fears again. Ignore him? How? Until then, I was deemed a nice person. But I understood what my actions had caused and what I needed to do now. So when he came back, I would ignore him. When he’d call my name, I’d pretend not to hear him. When he’d call me slurs and names, I pretended not to be fazed. But deep inside, I was terrified of his actions. Every time he’d talk, my heart would drop, and I could feel myself losing my breath. He’d wait outside my classroom to talk, but I’d rush out and ignore him.


I later found out that what I was feeling during our ‘relationship’ was overstimulation and rationalization. My mind couldn’t think or move to stop what was happening because I was overwhelmed by the sudden physical touch I wasn’t used to. Even though I said it was okay to hold hands or hug, F would keep pushing the boundaries and ask for more. I was rationalizing by saying that he was only doing this because he likes me and that this is a normal feeling, while I felt like I had to throw up every time I saw his face.


I felt powerless. And I have never felt like that before towards people, but that situation was terrible. I don’t ever want to go back to it again. Since then, I’ve learned to set clear boundaries and not rationalize my feelings. And it’s been strange and difficult, but the other side is brighter, I suppose. I have friends now, and they are much healthier than the ones from my past art table. It made seeing their faces much harder because of everything that occurred. But my new friends helped me through everything, and I’ve even been able to fall back in love without becoming afraid of the consequences.


However, the truth of the matter is that things are not black and white. They aren’t clear. Nothing is clear, everything’s gray. There are things I could’ve done to prevent this, and there are things where F is completely at fault. It was simply a terrible match, and things like these often hurt and scar people. If you’re ever in a situation like mine, step out of the situation. Think of this problem as if you were hearing it from a friend or loved one. How would you react? Please, don’t rationalize your feelings. And if you think there is anything wrong for a second, don’t continue the situation. Instead, take a step back and stop it. And please, reach out. People care about your well-being, it feels amazing to get a second opinion, just talk.

Be safe!

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