When I was in high school, I “dated” ( was in over my head in relationships with boys) several people. And I could go on and on all day about all of these boys but this story is about one boy in particular. We’ll call him Neil. I have my reasons for that.
I was 16 and I was in a “relationship” with a dark, troubled, probably-would-one-day-end-up-in-jail young man. I only knew this kid because he was friends with my friends, thanks to band. But I knew that I had to get out. Before I ended up hurt. Or dead. And I’m not joking. Back then, the only way I knew to get out of a relationship with a guy was to get into a relationship with another one.
We met at lunch. I was sitting with my troupe of guy friends (the ones I would have been better off dating) and suddenly this guy sits down with us. I won’t lie… I’d noticed him before. He had long curly blonde hair, a trait that I found difficult to ignore in a boy. He sat in a chair next to my friend Nathan and made a statement that I will not repeat here. But it got my attention. I think we may have flirted a bit but then he went along his merry way. I didn’t forget him though.
A few months later, after the dark, troubled young man had held me down, threatened me, and refused to let me get out of a car a couple of times, I had had enough. So I called Neil. It was during the summer so we weren’t seeing each other at school. He had graduated anyway. We made plans to go on a double date (with my best friend/sister and his brother) to see “Forrest Gump”. He also had tickets to a Tori Amos concert that next month which he invited me to attend with him.
We dated until the spring. He never held me down. He never threatened me. His only crime was not being smart enough. By the time I had moved on and fallen in love with who would become the guy I’d be with off and on for the next 9 years, I couldn’t just do the whole, “It’s not you, it’s me” thing. Because my mom wouldn’t let me. She didn’t want me to break up with Neil and be with who I wanted to be with so that meant I had to demonize him to explain my behavior.
Back then, if you weren’t college bound and ready to become some kind of doctor, you weren’t good enough in my eyes. I think back on how Neil treated me. He worked so hard to make me happy. He never made me feel dumb, or less than, or not good enough. He never blackmailed me or called me names or hid me from his parents. He never read my diary and then yelled at me about what he saw. He wasn’t perfect. But he was certainly not abusive. But he wasn’t book smart either. And that meant he had to go.
For years, my new boyfriend and I made fun of Neil. We talked about how dumb he was. How he’d talk in this strange fake British accent at times. How he tried to play guitar but wasn’t good at it. How he had these sensory issues that seemed to affect the type of clothing he could comfortably wear. How at times it seemed he could barely read or write. How he wasn’t going to college and was a construction worker instead. How could I have ever dated much less LOVED someone so pathetic?
Good grief, I was a mess.
So here God has given me this son. This nine year old boy who has long curly hair. Who has sensory issues that affect what clothing he can wear. Who tries to learn to do things but they never come easy for him. Who struggles with reading and writing. Who is most likely not college bound. Who walks around saying things in a weird accent a lot of the times.
Is my son pathetic? Not even a little.
I am ashamed of how I treated Neil. I am horrified that I ever believed that if you weren’t successful academically that you were of no value, that you weren’t smart. And I wish that I could see him and tell him I’m sorry.
I am thankful that God has yet again used my children to show me the error of my ways and to show me how far I have come. I’m not that person anymore. I didn’t like that person. I like this person that I am now. I have my children to thank for molding me into a person I can stand looking at in the mirror.