She Will Be Loved
Growing up can be such a confusing time. Things happen and sometimes we’re not sure what to make of them. The confusion, the secrecy, the shame. These feelings can shape a young mind. It’s not until a few decade’s worth of hindsight that we can see things from a different perspective. Carly of Growing Butterflies shares such a story. Her story. -Gretchen
I was 8 years old the first time I was touched.
There was no uncle or father or cousin or brother… but rather, the girl next door.
I met her in my 2nd grade class. We were only a couple of desks away from each other. Everything about her was more than the rest of us. More height, more confidence, more sway in her barely pubescent hips; more mystery. And she knew it.
I watched her all the time, as she was surrounded by fellow classmates listening to her every word. I finally put two and two together: that being like her, or at the very least being *associated* with her, was my get-out-of-jail-free card.
Yes, even in the second grade -even while attending a private Christian school- I had already learned that I was not cool enough, not popular enough, not pretty enough to be noticed.
But the new girl lived right across the street from me and there was nothing she could do about that.
Sleepovers on the weekends became a regular occurrence. And she wasn’t one of those popular girls that was your friend at play dates, and then refused to acknowledge your presence at school. No, she had actually taken quite a shine to me. I started dressing like her and checking my chest daily to see if *anything* was happening.
I loved playing with dolls and reading books. As a single child, I could entertain myself for hours. She loved to make exciting plans, ones that involved being independent and grown-up and possibly sneaking behind busy parents’ backs. She got bored easily.
“Hey, let’s play a new game,” she said one afternoon. “I saw it in a movie once.”
Cast under her spell, I was up for anything.
“Take your clothes off, but leave your underwear on.”
It seemed like a strange request, but I complied while she did the same.
Breasts. This 8 year old girls had actual breasts, the first I’d ever seen. I wanted to look away; I couldn’t look away.
“So you be the man and I’ll be the woman. I’ll show you what to do. Lay down on my bed.”
Something hot pinched my ribs; I wanted to ask why? But again, her wish was my no-spine-command.
As I lay down, she locked her bedroom door, turned the lights off, and then I felt her sit on my lap.
She began to move and slide over me, her breath warm on my face as her lips inched closer and closer to my own.
“Isn’t that nice?” she whispered. “You can move around too. It’s called sex. Grown-ups do it all the time.”
They did? Even my mom? I was pretty sure we’d never even had a man over to our house.
“But I think kissing is kind of gross, so I suck my lips in – you do it too! – and then we can just pretend we’re kissing.”
I folded my lips inside my mouth, and soon I felt her “lips” move over top of mine. Somehow my hips caught her rhythym. She said I was doing really good for my first time, and that I should roll her over so she could be on the bottom now.
I don’t know how long we did this, the pattern of laying skin-to-skin, “kissing,” wiggling and rubbing against each other. But it left a curiosity in my heart, a tingle deep in my abdomen, and a layer of guilt I couldn’t understand.
I liked it.
I left her house that day feeling different. Like I’d learned something new that made me important. And my friend had deemed me worthy enough to be bestowed upon.
Sleepovers changed after that. After our parents said good night, we would pretend to fall asleep for a few moments, and then we would take our pajamas off and try to stay as quiet as possible as we explored each other. She would teach me new things to say while we were doing it, things like “Harder, baby” – “I want you so bad right now” – “We can’t tell anyone.”
But we did tell. Sometimes we had group sleepovers with other neighbors or girls from school, and they wanted to know our game too. We’d pair off and make up a storyline, maybe something where the “guy” rescued the girl from a dreadful fate like murder or drowning, and to thank “him,” the girl would take off all her clothes and move all over “him” for a while.
No one had ever told me how powerful a touch could be. But deep down, I ignored the sense that this wasn’t normal, that I was not normal. I felt ashamed every time I thought of God watching from a cloud.
We made sure we never got caught. Even though we told ourselves it was only wrong if we kissed each other, we still didn’t want our families to find out.
Now I knew why Adam and Eve had taken the fruit. Not because it was delicious, but because it was forbidden. I eventually got used to having slightly damp underwear, even though I had no idea why.
Over the next two years, I would promise God that I wouldn’t give in the next time we played together. I would suggest Monopoly or Hide and Seek. But my group insisted that if I wanted to be one of them, this is the game we would play.
I hated them, but not quite as much as I wanted them.
I wasn’t sure what God hated more – my actions, the weakness and failure to keep my promises, or just me in general.
Just before my 11th birthday, my mom and I moved to Canada. I was secretly relieved that the temptation had been physically and geographically removed from me – although there were some nights I missed the connection with my friends so much I held and cuddled an extra pillow against my changing body all night long.
A year passed, I was building healthy, normal relationships with girls and the occasional boy. No one here knew my past. I could start over. Of course, I was home schooled, living in the wilderness, waiting for Y2K and God’s judgement of the world to strike- nothing would ever actually be normal.
Every day I would look at the sky and pray that when He came, He would consume me quickly. If I had any right to ask.
When I reached dating age, I constantly chased boys who didn’t like me the same way. My first for-real boyfriend at 22 would not get an erection no matter how hard I kissed him. So I broke up with him and chased a few more boys who didn’t want me.
I guess I thought it’s who I deserved.
When older men flirted with me, I was like a moth to flame, fear and curiosity intermingled. Their words and “innocent” touch licked at my heels. One man in particular should have been stopped, but he escaped his day in court by putting a gun in his mouth.
I worried that maybe, after my sexually awakened childhood, the only person I could really fall in love with, and have them love me in return, was a girl. A girl with a dominant manner and a body like silk.
I was a worship leader, a prominent young woman that youth looked up to in my church. If they knew that I actually thought a woman’s naked figure was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, that the thought of a man’s naked figure frightened and confused me…surely they would become as disgusted with me as God already was.
Maybe I was better off alone.
And then I met my husband.
No, he didn’t fix me, or save me. But he’s teaching me slowly that there’s more to me than just a body to touch.
Every time my shame, guilt, self-loathing and confusion returns, he stands calm like a sentinel with arms open. And it’s there that I glimpse what God might actually be like.
When I think of my childhood friend, who I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, I get angry. I wonder where she is, who she is now. Because I now know that 8 year old girls don’t just *do* that. Somebody got to her first. Somebody touched her FIRST, made her feel powerless yet seductive FIRST, took her innocence FIRST.
That somebody should have been exposed. Not from revenge; just because it’s what’s RIGHT.
Anytime ANYONE has their true colors revealed, whether they are prominent in church or entertainment or business or government, I rejoice. Because you can’t hide that shit no matter how hard you try, no matter how much money you throw at it. And you need to know that.
The Truth. Will. Out.
Today, I have a wonderfully imperfect husband, with whom I share intimacy like I’ve never known.
Today, I have crushes on Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence, and I don’t give a hot damn about it because, let’s face it – God did a good job.
Today, I’m developing lovely, balanced relationships with men and women.
Today, God and I are in recovery together.
It only took me 20 years, but today, that truth has set me free.
Carly is a Mexican-American-Canadian frappucino blend of delight. She loves to read, write, bake, play music with her rock star husband, cuddle her pets against their will – and help deliver babies in her spare time. She blogs at GrowingButterfly.Wordpress.com and you can also find her on Twitter or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.