My sisters and I once figured out we have a tendency to over-explain things, which we attribute to having a father who would always take things wrong. You had to be the bad guy in any disagreement.
I am also aware of many circumstances in my youth where I did not have the right words to understand and explain myself in a situation. It would be frustrating and it's why I write about things so much now. Realistically, those were people being toxic anyway and more concise language probably wouldn't have helped. That doesn't change my need to figure things out.
The day after the harassment and assault, I ran into Matt again. I literally have no memories of seeing any of them in school again, except once seeing Steve and the he looked really run-down - like the other person I have seen looking like that had a drug addiction spiraling out of control - but I am not even sure that they all didn't move away. However, that day I saw Matt, and I asked him something.
I don't remember exactly how I phrased it. I wanted to know if all of that meant anything. An apology could have been nice. Because his main thing had been asking me a hundred times to go steady with him, and because I had shouted "Yes" to get him to go away, it came out as mainly a question of whether we were going steady.
I may not remember how I asked, but I remember his answer really clearly: "What do you think?"
I didn't have the words to answer, but I can come up with a few now.
I think you just reinforced that no boys could ever sincerely like me. Maybe I have been afraid of that all along, but having it confirmed is tearing me apart inside. Can you please tell me I am wrong about that?
I think that I was at a table with other nerdy girls (and some others were overweight), and that you only picking on me means that somehow there was something worse about me - something less attractive and more repulsive and less eligible for any kindness, and I have never stopped believing that.
I think it's interesting that it happened on a day when we didn't have any boys at the table. Is that why it happened? If we were clearly marked as someone else's territory we could eat in peace? Some of the boys in my social group were real jerks, but if they were also protection maybe I should have appreciated them for that.
I think it was stupid of me to say "yes" to get you to go away. I should have let the teacher handle you coming in and disrupting the room, but I was so embarrassed that I couldn't think straight. Then again, I think that it sucks that when my friends and I were laughing together that the teacher on cafeteria duty that day told us to pipe down and be considerate of other people, but that no one had a problem with what you were doing.
I think that in that school there were at least fifty boys that I thought were cute, and there were boys in my classes that were smart, and there were boys that I talked to that were nice, and there were probably even some that were all three, so I can't understand why my most significant interaction had to be with you.
I think it's pathetic that there was nothing more interesting to you that you even have time to pick on someone.
I think I'd like to know that the problem really was you, but at least one of you got married and had children, and I never did, so I'm afraid I that am the pathetic one. And I think I'm pathetic that I got so scarred from this when it meant nothing to you.
But I didn't have the words then. I didn't even know how deeply it had affected me then. I didn't figure that out until much later.
So I swallowed it up inside and tried not to think about it. I became good at sarcasm, which doesn't require any depth or understanding, but it doesn't fix anything either.