Trigger Warning * Violence * Language * Sexual Content
After he cheated on me in the spring, I believed him when he said he didn’t mean to hurt me. I understood why he cheated. But when I got home from Clearwater, to see for myself if Mom was lying, I was crushed when he confessed it was actually true.
“I was just so angry that you left! You said you wouldn’t leave, and then you did. I don’t know what got into me. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just wasn’t thinking because you didn’t keep your promise.”
I was flabbergasted. This was my fault? “I had to go. Mom made me,” I cried. “I left you a note, even.”
“Yeah, but you promised you wouldn’t go. You said she couldn’t make you go if you didn’t want to. So you must have wanted to go. I was angry and hurt. I just wanted to spend your birthday with you, baby.”
“So you cheated on me instead?”
“I didn’t mean to. She was just there.”
“She who?” Anyone and everyone knew we were together.
“It doesn’t matter. I won’t see her anymore.”
“It does matter. And what do you mean you won’t see her anymore? Are you still sleeping with that whore?”
“It’s not like that. She’s not a whore. She just likes me,” he said.
“So you’re defending her? Oh my God, I can’t believe my mom was actually telling the truth!”
“Yeah? Did she tell you how upset I was that you left? Did that bitch tell you how I called her over and over and begged her to go get you?”
“Well,” I said, “I can certainly see how this would drive you to cheat on me. Clearly it’s completely my fault. No matter what I do, it’s my fault you cheat on me. Did you ever stop to think maybe you’re just a bastard?”
I ran away at that, angry, hurting, and sad. I hated him. I hated Mom for being so happy he was cheating on me. I hated my aunt for taking me away. I hated the whore he slept with. I was alone. Again. There was no one on my side, no one who loved me who didn’t know how to do so without hurting me. What was so wrong with me?
“Take me back to Clearwater,” I said to Mom later that day. “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be around you or him. I hate all of you.”
“You’ll see one day this was the best for you. You hate me today, but you won’t always hate me. You will always hate him. He hurt you, baby, and he doesn’t deserve you. I’ll take you back, but you’re staying this time. Let’s get Nate out of your life for good, ok?”
It sounded just fine to me. That whore could have him. They deserved each other.
I was completely over Nate by the time I got home several weeks later. I had cleared him out of my system. I didn’t need him, nor did I want him. I was ready to get back to school, pass the eighth grade this time, and get on with my life. And I had no use for any boys, cute or otherwise.
So, of course, when Nate came to see me as soon as I got home, I was thrilled. Despite my best intentions, I was just lying to myself. I truly loved him. And he had been waiting for me to come home again; he was ready to show me how much he loved me.
“I’m so sorry, baby. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’ll never hurt you again. I promise,” he said, pulling me into his arms. He smelled so good, and his chest hairs tickled my face where they peeked out of his t-shirt.
“I got you something for your birthday but I couldn’t give it to you before, because I hadn’t paid it off yet. Close your eyes.”
I did so and held out my hand, realizing I hoped for a ring. And not just any ring. I wanted him to say he wanted to marry me. I wanted him to ask me to be his wife, because I knew that would mean we would be together forever. If I were his wife, he wouldn’t want to hurt me, to cheat on me anymore. It’d be different.
Instead, I felt him pick up my hair and fasten a necklace around my neck. “Happy Birthday,” he whispered in my ear, nibbling the lobe.
I looked down. A shiny gold necklace, and on it was a gold charm that read, “I love you!”
“I do love you,” he said. “Oh, and I got you this!” He pulled out a teal t-shirt with writing on it: “Angie loves Nate.”
I didn’t know what to say. This was the Nate I loved, the one who was nice to me and didn’t cheat on me.
“I have one, too, except it says ‘Nate loves Angie.’ We can wear them together. I got them in Daytona, but when I found out you left me—”
“I don’t want to talk about that,” I said, cutting him off.
“Yeah, that’s over. Are we good?”
For one small moment, I felt maybe these gifts were meant to buy me back. But I let the thought go in favor of being with him again.
“Does this mean we’re back together?” I asked.
“Of course! What have I always told you? I’m yours and you’re mine, fo eva!” A word to get me right in the heart, our way of saying forever without being too mushy. “No matter what happens, we belong together. You know that. You’re my baby. All of you is mine. You will always be mine. We can make it through anything.”
Mom wasn’t happy to hear any of this, and she seemed to give up trying to keep us apart. It was a fruitless battle, one she wouldn’t win, because the harder she tried, the more I wanted to do exactly what she didn’t want.
When school started again, I proudly wore my new shirt and gold necklace. I had plans to make this a good year, to work hard, and just be happy. I had something no one else had – a real man who loved me. I could tell other girls were jealous, but I didn’t care. They were stuck with little boys, not allowed to date outside their age, not allowed to go on a real date. I was a woman as far as I was concerned. Nate and I wanted to get married, and we would in a few years, as soon as we could get away to elope. I’d be his wife and leave all this childishness of gossip and games behind.
By the end of the first grading period, I was thrilled to discover I was making A’s and B’s again. Nate encouraged me to keep up my grades, and sometimes he would take me out to dinner as a treat for doing so well. It was nice to have someone who really cared about how I was doing, even if it was just about passing a test.
One night, when we were supposed to go out, he didn’t show. I was worried about him, first scared he might have gotten hurt, but then my old fears came back, and I was sure he was cheating on me again. I had no reason to think so other than the fact that he had done so before.
Instead, I got a call from the juvenile detention center. “I was just defending your honor, baby,” he said. “I was out cruising and I saw those assholes who were spreading rumors about you. I couldn’t help myself. But baby, I kicked his ass! You should have seen him run! I did it for you. My step-mom’s not going to let me come home again – or not yet – so please wait for me. You know I love you.”
I was speechless, torn between being angry, worried, and honored that he would go to such lengths to protect me.
“Of course I’ll wait for you. It’s not forever,” I said.
“But if it was forever, you’d wait, right? We’re going to get married some day, right?”
“They don’t keep you in juvie forever,” I said.
“But you’ll wait for me. I don’t want to get out of here and have to kick someone else’s ass because you didn’t wait. You’re mine, baby, remember?”
Of course. I didn’t want to be with anyone else. And so I spent the next month, which felt like forever, defending him, writing him, running up the phone bill with his collect calls. But it was worth it when he came home. Our relationship felt stronger, and when we had sex, it felt like we made love for the first time. It was passionate and gentle, and it felt different than ever before.
“You have to pull out,” I whispered to him. “I don’t have anything.” I’d run out of the pill while he was away and Mom hadn’t found time yet to take me back to the clinic for more.
“I can’t, baby,” he panted. “Just this once, let me. I can’t stop this time.”
It was too late. He didn’t pull out, and visions of sperm racing inside of me to fertilize an awaiting egg filled my head. I had seen at least two different movies that showed this very scene, and in both cases, the girl got pregnant. Was I going to be that girl?
“Sorry,” he said, slumping on top of me. “I just missed you so much. It’ll be ok. I doubt you’re going to get pregnant.”
I doubt any girl who got pregnant thought she would that one time. I was not amused.
As soon as his step-mom found out we were having sex again without protection, she threw a fit and then drove me to the clinic herself. But I never got the chance to start my new pack of pills. Before Nate flew out of state to attend his sister’s wedding, we suspected I might be pregnant. When he returned a week later and I still hadn’t had my period, we were almost positive. And by the time I was randomly passing out and vomiting, we didn’t need a pregnancy test to confirm what we already knew.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!