(I may have told this story before. I'm too lazy to do an exhaustive search of the archives)
In the process of thanking a friend (hi VT!) for indulging my impulses to tell sappy stories about my boyfriend, I reminisced about the mean girls on my gymnastics team. It may be unfair to blame them for all of my intimacy/vulnerability baggage, but they were certainly a key contributing factor. The pertinent stories revolve around Jared, an out-of-town boy who joined the team when we were all 14 or 15 years old. Everyone had a crush on him, in that way that I can recognize now as hormonal and adolescent and inevitable. But at the time. Damn. At the time, it was the most intense thing I had ever experienced. I didn't know what to do with myself.
Which, equally inevitably, led to humiliation. Two of the girls on my gymnastics team also happened to go to my high school. We weren't really friends at school, traveled mostly in different circles. But one day at lunch one of these girls overheard me gushing about my new crush to my actual friends. Evidently, I said his name 34 times. Yes, I remember this detail. Because later that week, at the gym, they told him. And he took the cassette case for my floor music and carefully wrote his name on it, 34 times.
The other story happened at one of our numerous team slumber parties. These same two girls took me aside to confide that they had heard that Jared thought I was hot. More specifically, that he thought I had "the hottest body on the team, but the least attractive face." I remember awkwardly trying to laugh it off, pretend I couldn't possibly care less what he thought of me (at the time it never would have occurred to me that these two girls were making things up to be mean to me).
I recognize both these stories now for the cruelty that they were. But then all I saw was how weak and wrong and foolish I had been. Never again (ok, not for another 15 years or so) would I be so careless as to feel so much.
Which is heartbreaking, right? I mean, sure, adolescence sucks. But one of the few bright spots is that sort of reckless emotional abandon. We should be so lucky to feel so much.
I'm not writing this for sympathy or to fish for compliments. These things happened a long time ago. But it's a therapy thing - telling these stories, owning the pain they caused. Until today I only told them to one or two other people, but keeping them secret means letting them continue to be embarrassing. Fourteen year old me doesn't need to be embarrassed for liking a boy with reckless abandon. Thirty year old me should tell these stories. Those girls were mean.