The first woman that I ever liked (or rather, the first that I could admit to myself that I liked ), used me like a dirty old rag that you leave under the kitchen sink because it is all dirty, stinky and broken, but you keep it anyway because it’s the best stain remover. ( As El Chapulín Colorado would say , “se aprovechó de mi nobleza”—literally translates to they took advantage of my kindness.)
The first time someone ever asked me if I was a lesbian was in the tenth grade. For me, it was the biggest insult they could have given me. I wondered what made me look gay; if my obsession with the scene in Jennifer’s Body where Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried makeout, or the fact that in every casual day I dressed like Justin Bieber Circa 2010 . I don’t know if what affected me more was that they thought I was gay, or if it had more to do with the one who thought it.
Let’s say she was the Serena Van der Woodsen from my school, the Alison DiLaurentis , Lú before she left Elite ; the one who was my best friend in fifth grade and I’d call on my Hannah Montana phone just to waste the last 45 minutes I had left, but then when we got to high school, she ended up being more popular than me and well… distance won. (In the cinematic world of Mean Girls , she would be Regina George and I would be Janis.)
My initial reaction was shock; no one had ever suggested that I was a lesbian (at least not to my face ); proceeded by the Stages of Grief.
» No, they probably misheard her, she was talking about someone else.» ( denial )
“What a bitch”, how dare she? We don’t even know each other anymore.» ( anger )
«Maybe he saw me with one of my boy hoodies on, I should tell her it’s my brother’s or something.» ( Bargaining )
Unfortunately, I only managed to reach that stage on that occasion. I ended up ignoring the fact and swore to prove that I was the most heterosexual person in the world; as if I didn’t find boys disgusting and “wee-wees” didn’t absolutely terrify me. (I have a very complicated relationship with sex, I don’t feel comfortable referring to certain things by name—but that’s a topic for another day) Several months later; I inadvertently hit her on the head with a shoe, convinced myself that she hated me, and didn’t speak to her until college.
(For context: One of my friends had thrown a Karate Kid type kick in our classroom and broke the window. While that was happening; I left the room, dying of laughter, and tried to imitate my friend; without considering that we were idiots who used our shoes as if they were Scrooge’s slippers, and that by imitating her kick, my shoe would also end up flying and breaking something more important than the window—my dignity. Oh, and “Sara’s” head. (Her real name is Carla, but to try to leave some mystery between us.)
Some time later, for our «psychology» class, they made us choose roles randomly, and we had to present a mini play where we developed our characters. My role, because as you know, the Universe likes to use me as a stress ball, was “someone who is gay and doesn’t know how to tell their parents”. The role of my «father» was given to the one guy swore was the love of my life since like the fifth grade ( until one day I came clean and he literally said I would never be with you ), which only made it worse. When we left the class, I went to one of my friends and told her «I’m a lesbian who doesn’t know how to come out» , and she proceeded to get emotional, hug me and say «I knew it!».
(For the record, it was the same friend who would eventually be the first to find out, officially, that I didn’t like “wee-wees” that much .)
Again, I felt as if I had just been told that my mouth smelled like rotten garlic, or that it looked like I hadn’t showered in a week (for me, the worst insult I can get is about my hygiene. We can psychoanalyze that later). This time there was no justification; this one knew me. This was coming from the friend whose family knew my favorite dishes, from the one that had seen me cry because my outfit did not close (yes, it really happened); this one had seen me in a hoodie and a skirt; in crop -top and in sweat pants . Someone with a deep insight of me… thought I was GAY ?
My mission, then, became trying to be the “bad girl” movie cliché. The mysterious, misunderstood hottie that has commitment issues; but if you get to know her, deeply, you fall in love. The one who is never serious with anyone, but has a bunch of suitors all over the place. (I feel like I’m describing the poetic version of a Wisin & Yandel song , but that’s the vibe I wanted to give—I guess the American equivalent of the vibe I wanted to give would be the poetic version of a Weeknd or Drake song.)
Anyway, I wanted to be Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body , but without eating boys (literally).
For reasons beyond my control (probably more related to my physical appearance in high school, further compounded by my low self-esteem), I couldn’t accomplish it my sophomore year. I had to wait until my senior year to have my Brooke Davis era. (S1-S3) in One TreeHill . ( I don’t watch movies, but I watch too many tv shows. )
In part it may have been that in my senior year I was at another high school, and not the same one I’d been in since third grade (at the time, switching schools felt like the end of the world , but now, I can’t imagine a different outcome ). No one remembered me as the weirdo who licked dirt in third grade for a dare, or as the one who was taking antibiotics the first time she drank at a party and ended up throwing up on someone’s trampoline. (Gabriela’s, but again, mystery preservation.)
A new school offered me the gateway to be mysterious, genuinely mysterious because no one knew anything about me. My chance to prove that no kid in my class ever confessed their feelings to me because my personality was too much, and not because I wasn’t attractive. They didn’t know me here, they hadn’t seen my flaws, nor my uncontrollable outbursts of needing attention.
And indeed, I confirmed it.
I would tell you about the first boy that I came to like after my «father» in psychology, and how on Friday February 12 he asked me for a kiss and swore he didn’t have a girlfriend ( or anything like that) , and on Monday the 15th (when we celebrated Valentine’s Day at school) he sent his girlfriend a serenade (one of those that the choir and the student council did to raise funds ) where he dedicated Camila’s “Solo para ti” (a song whose literal premise is that he knows he found the love of his life because he doesn’t have eyes for anyone else, but her. LOL.) to the girl he was dating; or that two years later I saw him again at a party, ( and I, who was not in a good place emotionally ), tried to revive the flame, and he was too busy hitting on my best friend but that would be too direct.
I could tell you, then, about when I went to Punta Cana on my Senior Trip and discovered that they indeed found me attractive in other countries, like Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador… but my mom reads this, so we better save it for another day . For now, I will tell you about something a little more serious, something that was very difficult for me to write, process, overcome and something that I am still improving on.
I am not going to go into too much depth (not because it is not something important, but because it is another subject of which I can write five double-sided pages on, and I would prefer to leave it for another writing ) nor am I going to dissert a doctoral thesis on femininity and the internal value of women, but I will say that there was a time in my life where I let my internal validity depend on others.
(Now we’re transported back to a Netflix series-type segway, and this is where I give you a flashback that you don’t understand at the moment, but then connects to the rest, I promise.)
[ Trigger Warning (TW): Sexual Harassment ] .
I’m not sure where my insecurity was born, nor what caused the huge hole in my ego that led me to think like this , but I never felt pretty enough to be harassed.
You didn’t misread; I never felt pretty enough to be harassed . I know that’s not something I should think about, let alone share it with the internet; and I don’t want anything to damage this blogger -reader relationship that we’ve developed so far (because I want you to keep reading and I like to think that everyone likes me ), but I feel it’s necessary to do so for the context of the story, and for you, my dear reader. So that you never think or feel the same as I felt.
I’m not telling you that I’m one of the 3% of women who have never been harassed ( yes. Three. 97% of women between the ages of 18-24 have been harassed at some point in their lives–a topic we’ll go in-depth in later) , nor am I suggesting that when I went out into the street I actively looked for 65-year-old dirty old men to roll down their windows and whistle at me; but when you’re 15 and your friends are more… developed than you, it’s easy to confuse what you want.
I’m telling you that to my virgin teen perspective, who didn’t even have her first kiss until she was 17; the fact that my friends were harassed meant (to me) that they were in their prime. I thought that when men grabbed our assess while trying to leave crowded concerts, it was a compliment. Or when a group of men surrounded me and started saying “KISS! KISS! «In the middle of a bar ( although I didn’t know any of the ones surrounding me, much less the one they wanted me to kiss) , it meant that I was so hot that men had to use their friends as an excuse to make the first move ” .
I know what you’re are thinking, I think it too when I look back. I was a an idiot (in Spanish I say pendeja, but I don’t like to curse) and if I could go back in time, I would go to my younger self, slap her, give her a hug, and tell her to GET IT TOGETHER, bestie.» I would reiterate how awful it feels to be harassed, how awful it can be… being a woman, and how awful it will be when she realizes all the times she’s been harassed, and because of her insecurities, she let it go as if it was normal. . (Although, of course, it was never my fault, which was something I had to learn later. It’s never your fault if you get harassed.) I would tell her that her value comes from her, and that she will realize how much she is worth a little later in life (and that she’ll have to spend a lot of money on psychologists and therapists, but at least she will know what she is worth ).
(Anyway, we’ll go into more of this later. For now, I’m coming back from the flashback to explain why I told you all this.)
So let’s jump to when I went to college. In United States. With Gringos. ( Not that I have anything against the US, (although…) but if you have seen a single American teen movie or series like Blue Mountain State , Greek , Euphoria … I can tell you that they do seem to be based on real events.) My fantasy of starting from scratch, of fully vindicating myself ,became an option and now the » bad-girl « phase would become something more real, more viable.
Indeed, being a Latina in a town where the most they had seen of «Hispanic culture» was the Taco Bell at the end of the street, was good for my self-esteem. I completely ignored how empty I felt after a night talking to a Brad , or how uncomfortable I felt the time I kissed a Conrad (Brad doesn’t exist, but that one does), I didn’t care that I didn’t feel full nor empty; I was “flowing” (or at least I thought i was).
Until one day, while I was studying for a math test at my university’s Starbucks (that is, a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere they bought a bunch of cups with the Starbucks logo), I met her. (Yes, the one I told you about at the beginning, the one who treated me like a dirty cloth, that one) .
She stood in front of my table and, although she was only keeping eye contact with me, she was talking to my two classmates with whom I was studying with. The first thing she asked me, when he finally turned to me, was, “are you bisexual?» (Which left me…)
I think that when I tell this story, nobody understands the importance that I am trying to give to the fact that she asked me if I was bisexual. If we rewind to the beginning, we remember that I said that “the first time someone thought I was a lesbian, I felt offended”. Looking back now, it was probably because of my internalized homophobia (the frustration one develops when realizing that what makes you feel good isn’t «normal») that I developed as a defense mechanism.
( For context: In psychology, there is a defense mechanism of which we see examples daily, known as reaction formation. Wikipedia says that it is “any behavior, attitude or habit that goes in the opposite direction of a desire repressed.» I, who try to explain it to you in my own way, tell you that it is the stereotype that we see everywhere of the abuser, homophobic alpha-male that we later find out has actually been gay all his life and the anger he feels comes from feeling misunderstood.(I mean, Adam from Sex Education , Nate from Euphoria , Karofsky from Glee…) In my case, my negative projection was putting Logan Lerman as my phone’s background and every time I commented on the appearance of any woman, I accompanied it with a #NoHomo.)
I was puzzled when she asked me. No one had ever asked me if I was bisexual. To my repressed identity; that was scared and in a fetal position, hiding in an empty and dark closet, already running out of water and rationing food; it felt more valid. Bisexual would imply that I like men meaning I’m “normal”), but from time to time I could admit that I would let Megan Fox stick gum in my face (I don’t know). It implied that I am straight but with seasoning. My search for validation and feeling conventionally attractive could be expanded. Why let only the Brads and Chads give me validation, when Sarah and Jessica could make me feel the same way? Obviously, all this analysis happened internally and in half a second; so I didn’t reply to her right away.
I proceeded to ignore the question and continued studying for College Algebra. Once my friends left, she came back to my table, sat next to me and asked me if I didn’t answer her because I didn’t want to or if it was because I didn’t know. I replied both.
What followed that day was a lot of FBI-type investigations to see if I could discover her full name, and see her on her friend’s stories (well, the ones we had in common ), to see where she was. ( You know, not to stalk her, but so I could accidentally run into her .) It was followed by developing a very strange sexual tension; like if Tom & Jerry decide they’re gay, but they can’t be together because Jerry keeps making Tom want to smash his head with a mallet.
What followed was that, admitting that I had feelings for her led me to confess to my friends that, indeed, they were right but not 100%). What followed was that the repressed identity that was hiding and rationing food, managed to get out and try to interact with the world after spending 18 years being pushed into the closet every time it tried to come out.
What also followed was her looking for me and looking for excuses to talk to me—which were usually related to her drinking too much and deciding to text me. What followed was her talking to me everyday while I was home for Christmas, but once we got to college, I found out she had a girlfriend.
What followed was them breaking up, and her coming looking for me like a Rom – Com from the 2000’s, entering my dorm’s lobby to give me a kiss and leave, without saying anything ( yes, it really happened) . What followed was me confessing that I liked her (because the first time I didn’t and she claimed that that was why she found another girlfriend) and her leaving me in Read . What followed was her finding another girlfriend, but this one, she was unfaithful to with me ( which is not something I’m proud of, but I didn’t judge Cassie in Euphoria because I was Cassie in Euphoria (S2 Cassie—S1 we love her) ) .
Once they broke , I thought then we had a chance . I was wrong.
Later I found out on Twitter that, again, she was starting to talk to some other girl. Eventually, she got kicked out of college, but we kept talking.
I won’t go into too much detail about our » relationship » , I’ll just tell you that it was a year of feeling like trash 95% of the time, for thinking that the remaining 5%, that was positive (when I wanted it to be) , was worth it. A year of her having two and three girlfriends, all while still talking to me and treating me like her partner. A year of her being able to tell me that she loved me, and calls where she fell asleep because my voice gave her peace , and yet; she never wanted to be with me
When I finally had enough willpower to tell myself that I deserved better, and be done with her; she sent some worrying messages…, hinting that she would hurt himself I proceeded calling the su* cide hotline (where they put me on HOLD for like 20 minutes) and seeing what I could do about it.
(Apparently, the hotline is for people battling mental illness and in need of someone to talk to for a while—anything more serious than that, they’ll refer you to 9-1-1 .)
(If you ever need emotional support of this kind, you can call 1-800-273-8255 . My emails and social networks are always available too. Don’t sink in a glass of water, call someone to help you up to realize that the water is actually rather shallow.)
She stopped answering my messages and calls went straight to her voicemail . I texted her once more; letting her know that if I didn’t hear from her, I would have to call the police as a preventative method. She replied to please not. That she was fine.
I didn’t hear from her again until almost a year and a half later, when she wrote to me again and I only replied because I thought she would give me closure .
She wasn’t interested in that. She told me that she had changed and improved , that her life had no meaning without me and that now she would know how to value me because I was one of the best, if not the best, things that happened to her. ( I’m not saying this to boost my ego—she genuinely said all that. )
I replied that what I was looking for was “ closure ” and I stressed that I was not ignoring her, but that I did not know what to say…. I unconsciously lied.
I never answered her. I got a text from her on Valentine ‘s Day and proceeded to block her again.
A year later, I met the love of my life. (Who is no longer in my life, but well … she was the love of one of my lives.) I met someone who taught me to value myself and be independent, even when I was in a relationship. Someone who for the first time said to me “you psychoanalyze everyone, but who psychoanalyzes you? ” (I felt as if everyone always asked me where’s perry?”,and finally someone asked “how’s perry?”)
And although after three years we realized that we work better alone, I don’t regret anything. (We will not elaborate much on this, since it is recent and it was one of the things that pushed me to start writing publicly—the best masterpieces are born from sadness, right ? )
(Another day I will tell you how amazing she was and how that was indeed my first genuine love. Another day I will tell you how much her presence brought me peace, and how she helped me grow as a person, but for now… )
(Part 3 will be out soon!)