Hey again. It’s me. The one who talked a little bit about manipulation, and being manipulated with an FASD Brain. Ok, so, there is one more situation I want to share, and it is personal, it is deep, and it is raw. It is also real.
I was 15 years old when it started. The crush. My assistant cross country coach. He was 30. Nothing special to look at, crazy, wild, untamed curly locks, small stature, a runner’s build. The attention though. He paid attention to me, to all the girls. What 15 year old girl wouldn’t like that, right? The crush on my end seemed normal, many of the girls on my cross country team lit up when he talked to them or ran with us. There was a difference though. Between the other girls and me. I was 15 chronologically, but 10 maturity wise. That “innocent crush feeling” those other girls had, mine was intensified. It was like an obsession. I am not saying 10 year olds have obsessive thoughts on their crushes. I did though. I zoned in on his attention, his running with me, his words, his pats on the back, his smile. He became the center of my thoughts, my world. He started substitute teaching in my school, and would occasionally sit at our lunch table and eat with us. I had NO CLUE this was not appropriate behavior for an adult teacher or coach.
The kiss didn’t happen until I was 17. He memorized what classes I had when and where, and would walk by the doorways to them. He would write notes and hand them to me. I was the one who invited him for pizza after a regional meet on our home course. I invited the other teammates also, but nobody showed. He did though. So him and I stayed, and we ate. He told me it wasn’t right, what we were doing, yet he stayed. Now he was 32. We walked out of that pizza place, and stood there, looking at one another. He hugged me, and then got in his car, and drove away. My high school had a bon fire. I remember he had mentioned coming. I saw him, and I remember losing it. I was yelling and crying, because I saw him there. Total obsession like. Not my normal, at all. The next time we saw each other I was invited to his apartment to watch a movie. I lied to my parents, told them I was studying at a friends house. I knew they would think what was going on was wrong, but I had him all to myself. I didn’t think ahead to the consequences of being caught. I was in love! I went to his apartment, and we watched Bed of Roses with Christian Slater. My pick. After, we talked. Then I tried to kiss him. I made the first move. He tried to dodge it, say it wasn’t right, but he didn’t try too hard. He gave in. After that night, everything changed. I became an expert liar, you see. Up until meeting him, I was a great child. Never got in trouble, never lied. I got good grades, I had a good couple of close friends. The obsession took over. He would wait for me in my neighborhood, in his car after school, when we didn’t have track or cross country. He would leave me notes in a park up the road from my house, in a little hollow of rocks by a creek. He would write me love poems. My parents found out about the relationship when I think one of my friend’s boyfriends told the principal. I was walked to the office by the principal, making small talk about colleges. I got into the office, and was taken into this room with a table. A police officer and a social worker were there. The police officer asked if we had been seeing one another, and I said no. The officer told me she had my phone records, and knew I had made calls to him. I unfolded and told her EVERYTHING. She told me I WAS THE VICTIM. I didn’t get that. I didn’t understand what was WRONG WITH A a 32 year old man liking a 17 year old girl. I told my parents everything after school. The officer advised it was either I told them, or they would. They were devastated. I had to tell them in detail everything we had done. This went on until February 11, 1999, my Freshman Year in college. I went away to college, and was still dating him. I had no friends in college, never went out, just pined over this guy who had gotten into my head. He kept telling me age didn’t matter, that he would help me find my birth parents, and he would never leave me. He said my parents didn’t love me, because they didn’t approve of our relationship. I tried a few times to break it off, before college. He told me over the phone he had a piece of glass in his hand from the mirror he had just punched. He kept saying, “No, don’t do it, I won’t do it.” What I saw as a cry for help, a sadness over a girl breaking his heart, I now know was a manipulative move to get me to stay with him.
Yes, I was a teenager, but I was a teenager who didn’t understand boundaries, who didn’t understand right and wrong when it came to relationships. I didn’t understand cause and effect when I lied to my parents over and over again, and got caught. Most would stop doing what they were doing, or be smarter about it at least, so they weren’t caught. Not me. I repeated the same method of lies. “I was studying, I was working, I had late practice.” I had all of his letters in a box, NEXT TO MY BED! No lock or anything! Never thought about hiding them.
He was my first. I remember talking to him from a payphone in my school (yes, it was that long ago), and telling him I wasn’t ready. I remember him saying he had bought all this romantic stuff and we should just try it. He was pushy. I gave in.
It ended when I was a freshman in college, on my terms. My parents filed a court case against him and his relationship with me. My parents tried to get him on charges for sex without consent (I rather not use the other word given audiences), but in Maryland, the age of consent was 18. He knew this, which is why we did not until I was 18. Manipulation, again. The verdict of the court case was he got his teaching license revoked in the state of Maryland. I moved on, and my family worked on repairing our relationship that I had torn apart. I am now 42 years old. I have a 14 year old son. I look on in disgust what happened to me, and how my son is only 1 year younger than me when it started. My brain has matured since then. A lot. I realize now how I was manipulated, how wrong the relationship was, how he “groomed” me.
Why did I decide to tell this story? Those of us with an FASD, our brains have damage. One of the areas that are damaged the most is the executive functioning part of our brains. The part that can correlate cause and effect, the part that controls impulsive, obsessive behaviors. The part that can tell (most times) when another person is not being genuine, or is acting inappropriately. This is my story, this is my truth. I am putting it out there to give others insight into just one’s brain with an FASD. Thank you.