My first and only major relationship to date is one of my biggest sources of internal conflict. Even now, almost two and a half years later, I still find myself thinking about the relationship and obsessively wondering if I’ll ever stop hurting from it. I’ve never written or even spoken about it in full with anyone before, so just writing this post out is a huge milestone for me. Just a forewarning, this is way longer than any previous post I’ve done.
All the way back in eighth grade, I met a girl… we’ll call her Millie. We met because we were on the swim team together, and we spent every day after school in the pool, it was hard not to get to know each other. We never got incredibly close, but we would talk at practice and meets. The next year, she stayed at the middle school while I moved on to the high school as a freshman.
Fast forward to a year and a few months later. I walked into one of my music classes to see that it was assigned seating. Being a sophomore in high school, I groaned before walking over to my seat. But when I saw the name next to mine at the table, I smiled. It was the girl from the swim team: Millie. Even though I remembered the name, I didn’t recognize her when she walked in. She had grown up a lot in the year we spent apart.
I think it’s important to establish that at this point I did not think that I was anything other than straight. I didn’t really know much about other sexual orientations, so it wasn’t hard not to question it. Even if I had known, I wouldn’t have done anything, seeing as I’d grown up in an environment where we didn’t question those things. Millie and I became fast friends, and eventually she joined the marching band to spend even more time with me, since I was a part of the color guard. By March, I was finally starting to see that I didn’t just see her as a friend. It was terrifying… not only was I discovering that I wasn’t interested exclusively in men, but I was in love with my best friend.
I made it to April before it became too much and I felt like I was bursting. I felt like I was being dishonest, because we spent so much time together, we trusted each other with everything. I felt creepy by not telling her, but I had no idea how to begin to say it. Finally, about a week later we were texting back and forth in the midst of one of those late-night conversations, and I had had enough. I told her how I felt, and imagine my surprise when she responded not by telling me to leave her alone, but rather that she felt the same way. In a way, this was just as terrifying as the alternative. Now, I had no idea what to do and neither did she. It took us another few days to decide to date in secret.
The secret lasted about a month, before we were basically outed to the school. We were on a marching band trip, and we roomed together. We had told our close friends of course, we were too obvious to get out of that one. The girls we were rooming with were what we thought were supportive friends. Turns out, we were only half right. One day into a four day trip, we were pulled aside by our chorus teacher who asked if we were together. We were honest, and told her yes, and she made us promise nothing would happen. Of course, we promised since clearly we wouldn’t do anything with our friends literally right there. But later that day, our so-called friend had bitched to her mother again, who had bitched to other parents on the trip, which made its way to the staff. So we were pulled aside in the middle of dinner and told that Millie would be relocated to another room for the rest of the trip. Once that happened, the cat was out of the bag so to speak. Word got around, and it was less than an hour before everyone on the trip knew.
After that, we laid low, but continued to see each other. It was fine for a few months before things went south again. We were hiding everywhere except school, and the closet is not a fun place to be. Honestly, for the next two years almost though, it was fine. The only thing I wish had gone differently was the fact that the only one of our parents that knew was my mom. But anyway, it was honestly a great relationship for about two and a half years. The third year was when things went a bit awry.
Our third year started out the same as the first two, but jealousy had seeped in toward the beginning. Very quickly, I was isolated from my friends and family because she no longer liked them. I was so blinded by the love I thought I had for her that all I wanted was to keep her happy, and for a while I didn’t even see the cost. The only friends I had left were “Millie Approved” and they were mutual friends. I even cut out my best friend, who I had known for three years prior to meeting Millie. The isolation was the first step. Then came the verbal abuse. It started out as little things: she’d fix my hair because it didn’t look good to her, or make a comment about my makeup. Then she was nitpicking at my clothes, the things I liked to do, etc. I let her, once again because I just wanted to make her happy.
The moment when I really should have walked away happened about a month later. The first time she hit me, I had made an offhand comment about one of her friends. See, while I had given up all of my friends that she didn’t approve of, she still had friends that I didn’t even know. One of them was a girl who we’ll call Emily. Emily constantly flirted with Millie, and it was worse when I was around to witness it. Whenever I said something and Millie denied its truth, she’d get this smug look on her face and continue. So after a couple of weeks, I pulled Millie aside and said something about it. I told her that I didn’t think it was fair that I had given up so much of my life for her but when someone was blatantly flirting with her she didn’t do the same. She slapped me.
That was the first in a growing pattern over the next few months, including the fact that she slapped me at my senior ball so hard that I had to go to the bathroom to put coverup on it. Looking back now, I can’t believe I let her get away with even half of the things I did. In August of 2012, things got better though. We were better than we had been for the past half year at least, and I was so happy to have that back. We had a weekend getaway in late August just before I started college, and it was picture-perfect. By the time went away to school (about 30 minutes away, but I lived on campus), I was feeling great.
About a week in, we got into a fight on the phone because she didn’t like that I lived in the dorms. After that, there was just silence for a little over a week. She didn’t answer the phone, or text me back, or visit. Nothing. Then I got a text from my sister one random morning my second week, asking if I was in class. When I replied that I wasn’t, she said she needed to call me but to make sure that I was alone. Confused, I decided to go for a walk since my roommate was still sleeping. My sister, who had just started her freshman year at the same school that Millie was still a senior at, called. She explained that she had seen Millie making out in the hallway with my ex-boyfriend, ‘John’. For the longest hour of my life, I didn’t want to believe it. Until I had confirmation from Millie. She wasn’t even sorry, she just said that she had wanted to be with John for “longer than I’d ever find out about.”
After that, it was a blur of disentangling our lives. We returned each others things, blocked each other on social media and cut off contact. After about a month of trying to still hold on to our mutual friends, I gave up. They kept telling me little tidbits about her life, and all I could think was that I didn’t want that to happen in reverse. My life was slowly falling apart, and there was no way I wanted that to get back to her. Then a week later, I found out that Millie had told them lies about me. Everything that she had done to me-the isolation, the abuse- she told them I had done to her. I lost everyone that was a mutual friend, even the ones that I had been the one to introduce her to.
Looking back, I can’t believe that that was the original spark to my depression, anxiety and self harm. Reading this post back, it doesn’t seem that bad honestly but being in the middle of all of it and having other things piling on top of this, I suppose it makes sense. However, as much pain as I went through and as much as I wish I could’ve skipped over that part of my life, I wouldn’t take it back. I learned so much about myself, about life, about relationships, etc. If I didn’t go through the mental health issues brought on after this, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Does that mean I liked it? No. But I can see the knowledge I gained from it. I can take my struggles and help others, which is an invaluable asset for me moving forward in my life.