We were young.

475 20

CW/TW: self harm, graphic sexual language, childhood sexuality.

When I was 11 years old, my mom moved us to Philadelphia from Cincinnati to be with my now step dad and his family. I didn’t want to go, I would be moving far away from my family and changing schools and I didn’t like my step dad. I cried the entire 9 hour drive, out of sadness and spite. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. After moving to Philly, my depression became profound. I entered what I now see as an embarrassing goth phase, and became interested in things I knew were bad. In the 6th grade, I wrote a poem about my depression, and this poem was complimented by a girl named V. V was different than any person I had ever met, she hated everything like I did, and had no friends like I did. We became best friends, spending all of our time together, complaining and thinking we were better than everyone. She was the first person I felt understood me, and the first person I ever admitted my thoughts of suicide and depression to that validated me. She showed me how to cut with a razor. I started to became interested in sexuality, and had a crush on a boy a few years older than me. I asked V if she would show me how to make out, since she had kissed a boy before. This was the start of a long and confusing sexual relationship with my best friend. Wanting to look cool and “mature” I told A (the older boy I had a crush on) that V and I made out. He said he didn’t believe me, and had V and I kiss in front of him outside. I didn’t want to, but we did anyway. Shortly after, V and I started stealing her older sister’s porn, and experimenting with each other sexually. Neither of us told a soul. I didn’t even know how to bring it up to people that I was sexually active, before I had even started my period. It was deeply confusing.

This went on for about a year or so, but one night in particular changed the course of my life. I have trouble thinking about it or talking about it to this day. V and I were at her parents lake house in Delaware for a long weekend trip. We were both naked, and I was on top of her, kissing her and playing her when she told me that she was in love with me. I froze. I was startled by this completely – love was a concept I had never delved into. I told her I loved her too, not really knowing if that was true. The next morning, I couldn’t speak. V and I sat on the floor, writing notes to each other. I told her I didn’t know what love was, and that I wasn’t sure I meant what I said. I can’t remember the notes verbatim anymore. V got up to go to the bathroom, while I continued sitting on the floor. She was gone a really long time, an incomprehensibly long time. I started panicking because she had been gone for so long, at least an hour but it’s hard to say. I decided to check on her. When I opened the bathroom door, V was on the floor, and was bleeding from her wrists. She had cut both of her wrists, and there was blood all over the bathroom tiles and her pale skin that I loved so much. I can’t remember clearly how the next events turned out, I remember desperately trying to block the wounds with hair scrunchies. I must have gotten her dad. I don’t remember anything about that day, or even leaving Delaware. V lived. She was fine. But after that, we stopped seeing each other, we didn’t sit together at lunch. I felt like I didn’t even know how to be alive anymore. Months later, we moved back to Ohio because my step dad had become addicted to heroin and our entire lives fell apart. 

This story isn’t one of sexual assault or rape, but it was my first experience with sexuality and love. It shaped my entire views of my self worth and the power of sexuality. I felt like the scum of the Earth for almost killing my best friend. Shortly after moving back to Ohio, I was sexually assaulted. I felt like I deserved it and I didn’t tell anyone. I then entered a sexually, physically and deeply emotionally abusive relationship from when I was 14-19. I don’t have the energy to write about this now, and honestly I’ve made more peace with my sexual assaults than with everything that happened with V. It’s just so confusing and I was way too young to know how to process. I’ve never shared the full story with anyone. 

Thanks for reading. I am in a happier place and state of mind now. 


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20 comments

  1. dzreid Volunteer

    Hi Kayla,
    I am so sorry that you experienced all you did with V, but at the same time you had her as a good support & a good friend. I’m am glad that you were there for her. It’s great to hear that you are now able to view life from a more positive outlook. Take one day at a time & keeping on keeping on. Thanks for sharing!
    Dawn

  2. Ashley Day Captain

    Hello Kayla,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your story with our community.

    It’s great to hear that you felt comfortable confiding in V about the depression and suicidal thoughts that you experienced; you have the right to receive support. Since you were upset about the move to Pennsylvania, I’m glad that you found someone to connect with.
    Taking into consideration the fact that you were a child and she was your best friend, it’s understandable that you felt confused. After both of you separated, it makes sense that it was difficult to process everything because it sounds like you kept this sensitive information to yourself and that’s not abnormal. I’m sorry that you found V in the bathroom in such a distressing state. From what you can remember, it seems like you did everything you could to ensure that she was going to be okay.
    I’m sorry that you were sexually assaulted and not treated with respect by your partner. I hope that you and your family are doing okay. I get the impression that you have been through so much; I commend you for pushing through everything and I can tell that you’re a resilient person.

    I wish you nothing but the best.

    Ashley

  3. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi Kayla,
    I’m so sorry about what you’ve been through. I can’t imagine how confused and startled you were while this was happening, especially because you were so young. You’re not at fault for what she did, and you couldn’t have controlled her feelings or actions. Please don’t blame yourself for that. You also didn’t deserve to be assaulted or treated terribly in that relationship, and you still don’t deserve those things. You’re not at fault for those things. Your confusion is valid, and it makes sense that this is hard to process. It’s not easy to think about these experiences and remember what we were going through at the time.
    Yet I’m glad that you’re in a better place now. I hope that you’ll continue healing and making strides. Thank you for sharing your story. If you ever need support and/or resources, please let us know. We’re here to support you, and you can do this.

  4. Jordan Volunteer

    Hello Kayla,

    I just want to say thank you for coming on here and sharing your story with us. It is great to hear that you are in a much happier state of mind now. But it is nice to get these thoughts out of our head from time to time. When we are young, I think it is natural to be curious and experiment with things, especially sexually, but not have a full grasp as to what is means or perhaps why we are doing what we are doing. There are so many things around us that tend to influence our thoughts and behaviors. It sounds like your friend had much deeper feelings for you than you did for her at the time, and I know it is easy to sit here and say that you should not blame yourself for what she did next, but you truly shouldn’t. We cannot control what someone does or does not do and we most certainly cannot control how someone feels. I am so sorry that this happened to her, that you had to experience it with her, and that your guys friendship drifted apart after that. It can be really difficult for any friendship to go back to normal after someone expresses deeper feelings for another but is not returned, let alone what you then witnessed when not reciprocating those same feelings.
    As for the other obstacles that you had to face throughout your adolescence… I am so sorry. You have been through a lot and it is good to see that you are in a better place now. I hope that with time and healing, you will be able to forgive yourself for what happened. Because it was not your fault. More often than not, when we come to terms with what we cannot change it is easier for us to move on and live life more in the present. I hope some day you can experience that. Keep your head up. Sending hugs your way <3 Remember, we are always here for you and always feel free to come and talk with us. We will always believe and support you in anyway we can.

    – Jordan

  5. Harton.13 Volunteer

    Hi Kayla,

    You have been through so much, and I’m so sorry that you’ve dealt with so much self-blame, confusion, and pain. You shouldn’t blame yourself for what happened to V, but the hurt, loss, and helplessness you felt were valid (and still are). It’s really hard when you’re young and trying to process really complex and confusing things that you’re feeling, and I’m glad you’ve grown into a more positive state of mind. I hope you continue to grow in a positive way despite all the negative things that have happened, and that you share with us whenever you feel like opening up. We are always here for you!

  6. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there Kayla,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us! That sounds like such a hard time to go through. You should not blame yourself for what happened to you friend! You are always able to share how you feel and what happened next was not your fault! That is very scary thing to see and I’m sure it will stick with you for a long time. But that does not define who you are. You are so strong and you are able to overcome the things that you have gone through. I am so happy you are in a happier place now! Thank you again for sharing with us! AVFTI will always be here for you if you would like to share again. Stay strong and be kind to yourself!

    -Natalie

  7. Lizzi

    Hey Kayla,
    I’m so sorry for what you had to go through. That sounds like such a complicated relationship/situation at such a young age that you may or may not have been looking for at that time. I can only imagine it was pretty traumatizing to find her in the bathroom. Nobody should have to see someone they care about like that. I’m glad that she lived. And it wasn’t your fault what happened to her. As much as I understand self-injury and have struggled with it myself, it was her decision to hurt herself. That wasn’t your fault. Have you considered talking to a counselor to work through what happened with V? All the feelings and confusion mixed with your first sexual experience… that’s a lot to take on by yourself. Thank you for trusting us with your story and I’m glad to hear that you’re doing better now. We’re here for you.

  8. candyappleb Day Captain

    Hi Kayla,

    First of all, I am so sorry about the confusing time with V. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m sorry that these memories are still haunting you. I understand how such an overwhelming experience might stick with you for a very long time. Please know that what happened to V is not your fault. I can understand how it might feel that way with the circumstances, but the weight of another person’s choices is never your responsibility. I’m glad that she survived. I’m sorry to hear that your friendship was never repaired before you moved. Please never feel obligated to share more than you’re comfortable with. Speaking about traumatic events does take a huge amount of energy. We’ll be here for you if/when you’re ready to share more. I’m so glad to hear that you’re in a better place now. You might want to check out our resources tab. If you don’t already have one, speaking to a counselor could be helpful in processing everything that happened with V. Remember, your healing journey is entirely up to you. We’re here for you every step of the way.

    All the best,
    Becca

  9. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi Kayla,
    I’m so sorry this happened. You shouldn’t blame yourself for what happened to V. It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t know that V was going to do that to herself. You didn’t know that you were hurting her like that. You were being honest and thats all you could do. You did the right thing by telling her that you didn’t know about love. I don’t want you to feel like I am invalidating her, but she could have handled you saying that better. She could have explained why she loved you or said okay this is what being in love is or I was doing all of this because I love you. She chose to hurt herself like this, which is okay if that’s really what she felt like was best, even though you might not think it is the best. I’m happy she is alive. Just don’t blame yourself for her doing this. You weren’t the one to tell her to do that. I hope that you don’t think I’m invalidating or downplaying a very serious situation, I just don’t want you to feel like you are responsible for it.
    I’m happy that you are doing better as you got older, but again I also don’t want you to blame your assault on yourself because you didn’t deserve what happened to you. Whoever assaulted you is at fault because it is never the survivors fault. Thank you for trusting and sharing your story with AVFTI. Continue to stay strong. If you need anything let us know.
    -Alyssa

  10. Marissa Day Captain

    Hi Kayla,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, both with V and all of the assault you experienced. I want you to know that you didn’t do anything wrong with V. It’s normal to experiment and it’s very confusing and startling when someone confesses their love for you, especially when you don’t know what love is. Being honest with her was the right thing to do, and it’s not your fault that she cut her wrists. You should not have been punished for your feelings. I hope sharing your story brings you some sort of closure. Please don’t hesitate to reach out again if you want to talk about anything. We’re here for you 100%.

    Marissa

  11. Breanna Grunthal Volunteer

    Hi Kayla,

    Thank you for coming here, and I’m glad that a weight has been lifted after sharing with us. I hope it has helped you heal and process. I am so so sorry you went through all of this. Moving to a new city as a kid is tough enough without any depression/anxiety, and I wish an adult had cared more about your mental and emotional health. What happened to V is not your fault. You did not do that to her. I can’t imagine the pain and conflicted emotions you feel. But this is not your fault. It can be incredibly difficult to process these childhood traumas, so I hope you are kind to yourself in the process. You are so strong, you can do this. You can always come to share with us.

    Sending you love and support,
    Bre

  12. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear Kayla,
    Thank you for sharing this story with us. I am so sorry that you went through this experience and that it still troubles you so many years later. I cannot begin to fathom the impact that this must have had on you at such an impressionable age. I hope that telling the full story helps you begin to process and heal in some way. I read your response to someone else that you aren’t in a place to receive therapy right now and I am wondering if maybe there is some other way for you to work through it. Maybe writing or some other creative outlet, doing some research on mental health, listening to podcasts, or reading novels related to this type of circumstance or self-help books (I am a huge Brene Brown follower). For me, diving in and trying to understand both myself and the other person has helped me process and release a lot of the events in my life.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  13. Shannon Volunteer

    Hi Kayla,

    Thank you for sharing with us. I’m sorry that you went through such a traumatic experience with V in Delaware. It was not your fault. Its good to hear you are in a happier state right now, and if you need to talk more about it, we are here to listen. Be kind to yourself

    Shannon

  14. zoeyb

    Hi Kayla,

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. We hear you and we are always here to support you if you choose to continue sharing more of your story in the future. It was not your fault that V decided to do that while you were together in Delaware, please don’t blame yourself. I am so sorry you had to experience that. I’m so glad you are in a happier place in your life right now, if there’s anything we can do for you let us know.

  15. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi Kalya,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I’m sorry that you experienced this. You didn’t deserve to go through that. I also became sexually active at a young age, so I can understand how you feel. It can be really confusing doing things that you don’t fully understand yet or can’t process well, especially not having friends that you can talk to about it since no one else seems to be at that point yet. Don’t think that of the experience as almost killing your friend. It’s not your fault for what V chose to do. If anything, you helped to save her by getting help. Let us know if you ever need anything. We’re always here for you if you want to continue sharing your story.

  16. brodie_james Volunteer

    Hello friend,

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story with us. I’m so sorry that you experienced this when you were so young, and also the events that followed when you moved back to Ohio. It sounds like you feel responsible and guilty for what happened to your friend V, and then further felt that you were somehow responsible for the assault and abuse that happened to you afterwards. It also seems as though you feel that the sexual assault and abuse you experienced later was some kind of retribution for your interactions with V. I think it’s important to remember that you are not at fault for any of these situations; not for your assault, not for your abusive relationship, and not for V’s self harm. I know it’s difficult to remember sometimes, especially if that’s something that has been reinforced by other situations in your life, but you are not the reason why any of these things happened to you. Just from what you’ve written, you seem like an incredibly strong and resilient person who has experienced painful and challenging situations in their life, and having the bravery to share you story here is such a courageous thing to do!
    It seems as though you are unraveling a lot of traumatic events that have caused you pain and distress as you grew up, trying to get to the center piece, and doing that can feel overwhelming and difficult to do sometimes. I agree with Erin that finding support from a therapist may be helpful to process more of these complex emotions in a way that is supportive and safe. If that’s not an option for you right now (or if you currently have a therapist) please feel free to reach back out to us to process through any more emotions or find more resources.

    Cheers,
    Brodie

    1. Kayla Volunteer

      Yeah, I’m trying to find and make peace with my “center piece” as you call it. I know rationally that I am not to blame, especially since I’ve done a lot of work unpacking events from my past and I am also a volunteer here at AVFTI. But I carry this sense of guilt unconsciously and have for 17 years or so. I realize I should probably open up about it more and try to let some of it go.

  17. zelda Day Captain

    I’m sorry that you’ve been through sexual assault. As a survivor myself, I can totally relate to how destabilizing it is. It can ruin your life if you let it. As far as your relationship with V is concerned, you should give yourself some grace. You weren’t responsible for her self harm and you weren’t responsible after you found her bleeding on the bathroom floor. She made those choices, you didn’t. I’m glad to hear you’re in a much better state of mind. If there’s anything else I can help you with, feel free to reach out to me.

  18. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for sharing with us. I am so sorry for what happened. Have you thought about seeing a therapist/are you currently? It might be helpful to do so. Let us know how else we can support you.

    Erin

    1. Kayla Volunteer

      I did for a while when I was in high school, I never actually told my therapist this story. I don’t have health insurance at the moment and I can’t afford therapy unfortunately.