‘Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Words Can Break Your Heart’ was originally posted on my old blog on 20 March 2011 but I have re-posted it here as I intend to write a more detailed account of the stalking element of this story at a later date (you can read that now, by clicking here).
I was a late bloomer when it came to relationships. I dropped out of school when I was 13 as I was being bullied, so I missed out on some of the most important years of a persons life when it comes to learning social skills. In order to gain acceptance onto the college course I wanted, I had to prove my determination to them, so I joined a Hospital Radio station in the local area. It was there I met Charlie. I was 15, he was 24. He took an immediate interest in me and spent a lot of time helping me and teaching me what I needed to know. I felt no attraction to him, but as I felt he was the only person I had to look after me, I eventually became his girlfriend.
I still remember now the boredom I felt in his company, the annoyance I felt at him always being around, and the repulsion every time he kissed me. I hated him. But, before I knew it, and without me realising, he managed to emotionally batter me in to believing he was all I would ever get. He told me I was ugly, he would show me women on the television or in magazines and tell me I couldn’t even begin to compare to them. He would ask me why I wasn’t as pretty as them or as talented as them, and, knowing no different and thinking this was the normal way men treated their girlfriends, I accepted it. Worse still, I believed him.
Months passed and my first day at college came around. I was really nervous being with all these new people and hardly spoke to anyone, but within a week I’d made friends and was having a really good time. I noticed other girls with their boyfriends, being showered with affection and gifts, and wondered what I was doing wrong. When I saw Charlie I would tell him about my days at college and tell him about my new friends. Whilst I was at college, if I didn’t text him back within a few hours he’d have a go at me and ask what I’d been doing – being in a lecture with my phone on silent wasn’t a good enough excuse and he would make me cry, telling me I was a terrible, selfish girlfriend. Although I hated him, he’d told me no other man would ever be interested in me, and I believed him. Then things took a turn for the worse. One day when I was at Charlie’s we were in his room talking (I never slept with him, I made excuses not to – just the thought of it made me feel physically sick). I was telling him about the people in my class, recounting a story of something that had happened that week, when he pinned me down on the bed by my arms and gave me a lovebite on my neck. It wasn’t an action of romance, or of passion, I was telling him to stop because he was hurting me, but he wouldn’t. I wore a roll-neck to college all that week. This happened a few times, the worst one being when he bit my bottom lip so hard that my lip swelled up, bruised, and my chin was bruised too. When he’d done it he said “Now everyone will know you belong to me”. I wore a lot of make-up that week and managed to hide it from my family and friends at college.
I didn’t want to be with Charlie, but I knew no other man would ever want me – I was disgusting and should have been grateful that Charlie was willing to be with me when there were so many better girls out there. Then, walking down the corridor at college one day I saw a guy walking towards me. As he passed me he smiled and said hello, I literally stopped in my tracks. My friend’s couldn’t understand why I was so shocked, but they didn’t know what was happening to me when I wasn’t with them. This boy – Jon, as I later found out – was like a shining beam of light, he had shown me with that single smile that other men did notice me, I did exist and I wasn’t repulsive.
My friend’s found out Jon’s name and arranged for him to be at our regular pub the same time as us later that week. I was terrified going for that drink – Charlie was going to hit the roof when he found out I’d been out after college. As I walked in the door I was terrified, then Jon saw me, smiled and came over to say hello. He gave me a huge hug and said he’d get me a drink. Later than night I saw a guy I used to go to school with, Mark. I spent the night going between my friends, Jon’s friends and Mark’s friends. I had an amazing time. At the end of the night, both Jon and Mark asked if they could take me out. I honestly could have passed out – two men wanted to see me, TWO! Charlie was wrong, I wasn’t going to spend my whole life alone and I wasn’t hideous to look at.
When I got home that night I had several text messages and missed calls from Charlie. I ignored them all and put my phone on silent. The next day he sent me a message asking why I wasn’t replying to him. I text him back saying it wasn’t working, I didn’t want to be with him anymore and I was sorry, but it was over. He continued texting me numerous times a day, every day for weeks afterwards, but I didn’t want to speak to him – he had been awful to me while we were together and I didn’t need him to be a part of my life.
A few weeks later, I was online going through my emails when I noticed a message I hadn’t clicked on yet was showing as ‘read’. Each of my emails was being ‘read’ and then ‘marked unread’ while I sat there looking at the screen. I told my mum what was happening and that there was only one person it could possibly be – Charlie.
Mum and I set up an elaborate plan, with mum emailing me every day as ‘Deano’. The back-story was that I had met ‘Deano’ at college and we had started seeing each other. ‘Deano’ would talk about meeting up and told me about going out with his friends and doing drugs. We watched as these emails were read, and within a few days my mum had an email from Charlie saying he knew it was no longer his business as he wasn’t my boyfriend anymore, but he thought she ought to know I was getting in with the wrong sort of people, and possibly getting into drugs. Gotcha! He’d landed himself in it and we now had definitive proof it was him hacking into my emails.
I was furious. I phoned him to confront him and, of course, he denied it. When I told him ‘Deano’ didn’t exist and was created by myself and Mum to catch the hacker, he went completely silent on the end of the phone. I told him that if I ever heard from him again I would call the police.
I know I have been very unlucky, having this as my first experience of a relationship, and I know all men aren’t like this, but as much as I may have grown up and moved on, the scars of my time with him are still there.
I know I’m a nice person and I know I’m not completely hideous, but I don’t feel pretty, and I don’t think I will ever feel good enough for anyone. A few years ago I had plastic surgery in the hope it would make me feel better about myself. In a way it did and it has helped a bit, but I still feel massively inferior to most women out there. My friends are all beautiful and I know I’m the plain one in the group; when we have group photos I feel I stand out like a sore-thumb, I just don’t belong there. I watch television and it seems like everybody is better than me. I walk down the street and I see beautiful girls with amazing hair, stunning smiles, and perfect figures. There is so much pressure in the world for women and men to look a certain way and, quite often, it is unachievable to the normal person, working 9-5 and having a social life at the same time.
I know I’m not the only person that feels like this, everybody has doubts about themselves, and I don’t know if that will ever change. I’d love to have a man be proud of me and to want to show me off – I’d love for him to look at me and think I’m beautiful just the way I am. But, I don’t know if it’s realistic to think that is ever going to happen – isn’t all of that romance just in films?
If I would ask for anyone reading this to take one thing away, it would be this: Be aware of what you say to the person you love – male or female. Don’t put them down or say harsh words to hurt them in an argument, instead, tell them you love their eyes/their legs/their hair, tell them they look nice when they dress up for a night out, and make them feel special.
They say sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. I can tell you first hand, that just isn’t true.