Sunday, October 24, 2010

what i learned

 char sent out a request for us to share 'what i learned.' a life lesson, something gained. char is quite the inspiration, her words and photos. (my goodness, her photos.)  i am honored to participate.

two weeks into sixth grade, we moved. i was made fun of the first day in class and shrank into my eleven year old skeleton, hung back in the marrow, away from the surface. one girl, 'em', was nice to me after that. she became my first friend. for awhile, my only friend.
i missed my best friend from elementary school so much i cried daily for the first few months. i was not myself.
it started small. we spent time at em's house, not much at mine. she liked her house better. we played the games she liked to play. we did the things she wanted to do. she would tell me when i looked stupid in an outfit and she would laugh when i mentioned a crush on one of the popular boys. i fed off her negative image of me, it made sense. almost immediately, we were inseparable. co-dependency feels good when you're lost in the unknown.
her house was filthy. so bad that my mom used to make me take a shower whenever i would come back from spending the night there. i remember my mom and step-dad taking em and i to disneyland and i thought they were so awesome because they immediately shelled out big bucks buying us the sweatshirts we wanted right when we got there. my mom told me years later it was because em's clothes were so dirty and smelled so horrible they felt bad for her. i never took my shoes off in her house. there was animal feces on the floor. i brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink because the bathrooms were unsanitary. no one in the house seemed concerned with the issues, however, so i ignored them too.
it's amazing what you can adapt to.
i know we had fun together. i remember going with her to her dad's house in san diego for the weekend on numerous occasions the summer between sixth and seventh grade. we lived at the beach,  barbecued and ate ice cream. we read books and watched movies. we talked about our dreams and it felt like what having a best friend should feel like. until we got back to school, seventh grade.
all of a sudden, we weren't in the same class all day. in fact, we didn't have any classes together. our circle of friends grew to include a handful of other girls and tensions started to rise. one of the girls invited me to her house after school one day without em. and i was told i wasn't allowed to go. that if i did, it would mean i wasn't loyal. that i wasn't a good friend. i didn't go.
the "popular" kids started being nice to me. inviting me to things. one girl in particular was hosting a beach party the last week of school and wanted me there. i asked if i could bring em. NO. NO WAY. i didn't go.
our circle of friends shrunk. em had a way of driving away everyone, until it was just me and her. i used to watch these other friends go and i wanted to turn to em, blame her, tell her to just BE NICE TO PEOPLE but i was terrified of her. she had a horrible temper and, after two years, i was really good at keeping it deflected away from me.
finally, the summer before eighth grade, one of the few girls that still talked to em convinced me to end my friendship with her. she sat me down one afternoon while at her house. i had lied to em about going to this girl's house and was making her promise she wouldn't mention anything to em about me being there because i was so terrified of what she would do if she knew i lied. this girl said no, she wouldn't lie. and then she took me outside in the fresh air and held my hands as she said: you need to not be friends with her anymore. she is mean to you. she makes fun of you in front of other people. she puts you down and friends don't do that to each other. if she loved you, she wouldn't want you to feel bad. i know you're scared, but i love you. and i will be there with you if you want. she's not your only friend. i'm your friend, too.
who knows what her exact words were. i just remember her hands, forcing me to listen and that's what i heard.
i broke up with em the next week.
and i started to breathe again.
eighth grade was, quite possibly, the best year of my teenage experience.
thank you, becky carter, for teaching me that i'm worth it.
for teaching me how friendship really works.
for chasing after me when i started walking down the road paved with abuse and manipulation. and for walking back with me until i found my feet again.
you saved my life.

**in response to char's request for 'what i learned' i found myself completely stumped. until i thought about what it's like to be a pre-teen and how we start to become the adults we are. and i remembered, so vividly, the fork in the road where i stood at the tender ages of 11-13. how easily we bend to others' views of us and how easy it is to believe you are unworthy of love. and i felt myself so overwhelmed with gratitude for having becky in my life right when i needed her. and wherever she is today, i hope her life is full and happy.**


  1. What a great post! So poignant -I felt for the sixth grade you. I moved away from my life and best friend when I was 10 and I was placed in a 5th grade class set aside for "misfits" and a teacher who had permission to do corporeal punishment - frightening for a little gal who's misdeeds were kept locked tightly within her! Brings me back....

  2. Your words resound with me. Em was a bully through and through. I'm so glad there was a Becky in your life, who cared enough to be a friend. I'm delighted with the adult you became, once untethered by cruelty. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. such a powerful story.
    I felt like I was right there with you .
    As much as the adult me feels sorry for em and her situation, it is so grateful for the Beckys of the world. And for you getting out from under.
    The tween age is critical . So critical. Mine was brutal and it took me years to recover.

  4. as a mama to a daughter in 4th grade, this post really resonates with me. beautifully written and thank you for sharing.

  5. It's funny about the 'em's of this world...the way they drive away the very people that they need by trying to control and manipulate them.

    You were lucky to escape such an abusive situation and your friend Becky was a wise girl to see so clearly the need to leave and to be able to communicate it to you.

  6. Fantastic of which I'm sure others can relate to. Funny how our lives can be molded by others at the young tender age. People are put into our lives at just the right moment...thank God!

  7. I'm so glad Becky came your way and was strong. I went through something similar.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  8. Oh Krista, always so honest and heart wrenching, I just want to go back in time and give your 13 year old self a big, fat hug.

  9. ((hugs)) so powerful and heart wrenching - i am so glad you came through this. thank you so much for sharing this - we can all learn so much from this.

  10. I had such a similar experience... thank god I broke away from my "friend" when she went to a different middle school after sixth grade. She kept me away from everyone, sabotaged other friendships, decided she liked the boys I liked, and kept me under her foot, defenseless and powerless, as long as she could. She even tried making me look bad in front of her parents (not that smart at the time, this girl) so that she could control me more.

    7th grade started and I never called her again, but she would call me, sobbing, telling me how mean everyone was to her at her new school.

    I never looked back. She had two children by the time she was twenty.

    Bullies do suck.

  11. It's so hard to be a mother and watch your child going through these stages feeling so powerless at times. Hating not being able to control where we lived and having to leave your friends...I felt bad about that each time. As for your friend Em - if I spoke against her too much it could drive you more to that side or if I said nothing - what's the right thing to do? Either way maybe a Becky wouldn't have been there to rescue you. I too am so grateful to Becky - she was wise beyond all our years. And she saw what you could become - bless you Becky for throwing Krista a hand to hold onto and pulling her out. Thank you for sharing that Kritter, I must admit I had filed that away in the deep recesses of my mind, forgotten.

    I never really had anything like that while growing up - mainly because we moved every year and a half so never got that close to anyone. I learned to not get too close, or I'd end up leaving anyway. The only time I really got upset about moving was in 11th grade. Had a boyfriend, was on drill team - so when Grandpa told me we were moving in a month, I told him I wasn't going. Guess we know how that ended, huh? It all ended up ok -

    I just came across a pic of you and Becky from a few years ago - I'll send it to you tomorrow.

    Love you, Mom

  12. Came here via Charlane. What a poignant story. I had a friend like this when I was in 10th grade. Not a good year.

  13. Wow, what a great reminder to all of us to find the fork in our road and remember for it's important.

  14. This makes me cry. It makes me hurt for you, but for Em, too. What pain she must have lived in. What fear. I strikes me that she lived afraid of loosing you, her only friend. So she held on far too tight, and sure enough, lost you. Poor Em. There is no excuse for her behavior - or her parents - but still. Poor Em.


use your kind words.