The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Trying to Trust
My father’s abandonment lingers
Amber Perez
headshot

Names have been changed.

On my first day of high school, I saw a boy that I liked. His name was Craig. After a few days, he walked into my math class. I was shy so I didn’t talk to him first. Then, one day after class, he walked up to me. “You got 9th period today?”

“Yeah, do you?” I asked back, knowing where this was going. He asked if he could walk me to class, and I let him.

While we were walking he said I was beautiful. I smiled and said, “Thank you.” I couldn’t remember the last time a boy called me beautiful; it felt good. Before we walked into class he stopped. “You have Facebook?” he asked. In my head I thought, “Of course I got Facebook, who doesn’t?” But I just smiled and said yes.

We hung out a lot in school. I wasn’t sure if I liked him as a friend or more than that. On October 11, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I said OK but changed my mind three days later. I told him we should take things slow and get to know each other first. He was understanding. Other guys might have just stopped talking to me.

Craig told me how much he liked me. He confided in me about his problems, which he said he didn’t do with other people. The more we hung out, the more my feelings for him grew.
But I was afraid if we became involved romantically and it didn’t work out I’d lose him as a friend. I was also afraid of getting hurt like I had in the past.

Too Much Rejection

I’ve been hurt by my dad. He left my mom when I was born. When I was 14 he found out where we lived and sent my family a letter with his phone number. I called him and we spoke for a few minutes. I was a stranger to him so he only asked about general stuff, like how old I was (he’d forgotten) and how I was doing in school. The phone calls continued for a couple of weeks that summer, then they stopped.

Soon after, this boy I really liked asked me to come over and hang out with him, and I thought we were just going to hang out. When I got there we talked a little, then he asked if I wanted to go to his room. I said OK, not thinking about what might happen next. When we got to his room he started kissing me and then he put his hands down my pants. While he was doing that he started kissing me on my neck. I liked the feeling.

Then he unbuttoned my jeans and took them off, then my top. Then he started taking off his clothes. I knew I should have stopped him there but I was scared he’d never talk to me again. I really liked him, and he seemed to really liked me. So I let him take my virginity. It wasn’t as special as I’d imagined it would be.

For a few days he called me every day. Then, out of nowhere, he stopped. I was confused. I felt like he left me without an explanation, like my dad did. I wanted an answer. Why wasn’t he answering me? Did I do something wrong?

I texted him one last time and said, “If you didn’t want to be with me you should’ve just said so.” Then he wrote a Facebook post saying I wasn’t his girlfriend and changed his status to “single.” I felt humiliated and upset that I had given up my virginity to someone so horrible.

Eventually I got over this guy, but not my father’s rejection. I blamed myself for him not wanting to be in my life. I wanted to tell him that every teenage girl wants their father
to be around when they get heartbroken. They want to feel loved and accepted.

Letting My Past Rule Me

image by YC-Art Dept

These two experiences happening at the same time made it hard for me to trust a guy. So even though I was attracted to Craig, I told him we were better off as friends rather than taking the risk of getting more emotionally attached.

I knew I was letting my past experiences dictate how I approached my relationship with Craig. Eventually I told him what I’d been through.

“No guy should ever treat you that way. Anyone would be lucky to have you,” he said. I didn’t know what to say. I wondered if he was just saying that so I wouldn’t feel so bad. I thanked him for understanding how hard this was for me and gave him a hug. His dad had deserted him too. He continued being my friend even though he wanted more.

I cherished my relationship with Craig. He made me laugh. He laughed at my jokes although they were super corny. He checked up on me and complimented me and gave me long hugs. He wrote cute letters describing his feelings for me.

He was the first boy to ever come to my house and meet my family. He celebrated holidays with us. My mom loved him. She and my older sister often asked, “Why won’t you give him a chance?” But I kept my fears to myself. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Although he was the first guy I trusted, I kept insisting we stay friends.

Finally Opening Up

Then, a few months ago, things changed. I guess Craig got tired of waiting because he’s got a girlfriend now.

I’m jealous of their relationship but I try to keep it to myself. A part of me wants to see him happy even if it’s not with me. Still, I recently decided it was time to let my true feelings out.

During lunch, we went to the back of the gym so we could talk privately.

“Why do you get so jealous? You pushed me to the side,” he began.

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t like seeing you with anyone else.”

“Be honest, do you have feelings for me?” he asked.

“I do, but I’ll never force you out of your relationship. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy. But I know we’ll be together one day. We’re meant to be together.”

After saying that I felt stupid. Who was I to say we were going to be together? I couldn’t know the future. It was quiet at first, until he said, “So wait, you’re telling me that you love me and that we’re meant to be? Why now? Why when I have a girlfriend?”

“I don’t know.”

“Because you finally see that everything that I’ve been wanting to do with you for four years is now being done with her?”

“Well, yeah,” I said.

“You get me so mad, do you know that? You waited so long to tell me this. But maybe you’re right, and maybe one day we will be together.”

We walked back to our friends.

It felt good to let everything out, although it didn’t change the fact that Craig had a girlfriend and I regretted that it wasn’t me. Still, this experience helped me realize that I deserve more than I allow myself to receive. Now I know there are good guys out there, and I should start giving them a chance instead of pushing them away. Not everyone is like my father.

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(NYC-2019-11-22)