How Feminism Brought Me Back
I used to dance and climb trees and sing loudly and run around like a wild child. I say “used to” and you probably think I mean when I was four or five, but I mean up until around a year ago, when I was 15. I always tried to be the best person I could be, and to me that meant having fun, loving myself and the world around me, and trying to somehow make it better in any way I could.
Then something happened. I met a boy, I’ll call him Eric (name changed for privacy) who seemed wonderful at first. Eric loved Pokemon, challenged me intellectually (which I have found is hard to find), and acknowledged my intelligence and strength. He would always compliment my art, tell me I looked pretty (even on the days when I was sick and looked it), and helped me rebuild my ego after a bad day in humanities class or a low writing score. While we weren’t officially together, I felt close to him.
But then I kissed someone else -- my best friend, who is beautiful and with whom I’ve always had a flirtatious relationship. One night when she was sleeping over it just happened. Unfortunately she didn’t want to pursue it and this boy (who in the meantime decided that one date and a lot of kissing made me his possession girlfriend) had heard about this. I have no idea how, but somehow he thought that one date meant we were together and kissing my best friend made me a “cheating whore”.
Now despite my better judgment, I let that slide. Though he was wrong to think that, I had just been rejected by a girl I’d been friends with (and admittedly kind of in love with) for years and I needed someone to help me through the rejection. So I turned to Eric, who I thought was there for me. We started dating and I grew to trust him (probably too much) and after two months he took my virginity. We stayed together for almost a year and a half. It turned out that he wasn’t the guy I originally fell for, who valued me. He was possessive. He got upset over little things like thinking I flirted with someone or if I stopped texting him for too long. He blamed me when guys checked me out or assumed I was hitting on a girl if we talked too long. If I was alone with someone, he immediately assumed I was cheating. I always blamed myself for all of his paranoid misconceptions. It took me too long to realize that this was an abusive relationship. I turned to cutting myself and drinking and even doing drugs a few times -- anything to get my mind off of the self-hate growing inside of me based on his insults and perception of me.
Thankfully, I never gave up on my dream to go to an amazing school like MIT and become an engineer (though I ended up giving up on others because Eric convinced me I wasn’t good enough to succeed at anything). It was through looking for extra-curriculars to build my college resume that I ended up interning for an organization for young aspiring female engineers. One of the assignments was to read a book about feminism/female engineers/strong female role models and write a review for it every week.
The first two books assigned were utterly depressing and I was about to quit the internship until I saw the name of the next one: A Little F’d Up. I decided to stick with the reading list one more week because it sounded smart and funny. After reading it, I realized that part of me once identified with feminism, but I had let it slip away. I once talked to Eric about feminism and remember how adamantly he opposed it. It scared me to realize that I had given so much time and love to a man who didn’t think I was good for much other than when I was on my knees, who put me down and who hardly treated me like an equal.
That was my turning point. The moment I realized I deserved more than that emotionally abusive relationship. I went to his house the next day and broke up with him. Since then I have realized how much I am worth and I haven’t cut myself since the dark days of that relationship. I love myself more and more every day and even though I realize I am wonderful the way I am, I still have trouble with myself sometimes. I am still healing from the time I was with him. But I am learning again how to love myself and sing and climb trees and run through the sand. I am remembering who I am, and that is thanks to feminism.
More articles by Category: Feminism, Gender-based violence, Science and tech, Violence against women
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