We started dating after the church retreat. I had known him for years but never thought of him as more than just another rambunctious guy in my youth group. I had never had a boyfriend, or even a second glance from a boy, so this was a major first for me. The church retreat really broke the ice. I remember him stealing my jacket as a joke, an all-black hoodie with white stars on it. It fit him terribly, but he proudly ran around with it on all night. On the last night, he walked me to my cabin. He opened the door and stood so close to me I could barely breathe. He put his arms around me and held me for what felt like a century. I could have sworn he was going to kiss me – what a romantic time for my first kiss! It would have been picture perfect. But instead he let go and said, “Well, I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow.” The next day we exchanged numbers. When he asked me out a couple weeks later, I was ecstatic. My first boyfriend, and maybe even my first kiss! One night we went to see “Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.” I was sweating through the whole movie, anticipating a kiss. At the end, as everyone was leaving, I looked over at him, and he at me, and a mutual decision was made. We kissed. Well, it was more like his tongue attacked the back of my mouth, but there it was. My first kiss! Romantic right? Then he pulled away and said, “Your mouth is really wet.” Aren't most mouths? So much for my picture-perfect moment. After our first awkward kiss things got better. We went to the movies, out to dinner, or just hung out at my house or his. I thought things were going great. We talked a lot, shared stories, made time for each other, and just had fun. But then our relationship took a turn for the worse. • • • E-mails, texts, calls, voice mails, and Facebook messages. From people I didn't know, numbers I had never seen, and names I had never heard of. Horrible, insulting, profane, abusive messages. “You're disgusting, dirty, I'm surprised anyone would even want to do that with you.” “I heard what happened the other night.You're such a skank. Go die.” “He was a good guy. Why would you do that to him?! He's one of my best friends. And you're a whore. Stay away from him.” “You're so ugly, you should just go hide under a rock and stay there forever.” My heart sank, and my lungs felt heavy in my chest. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even cry. • • • I vividly remember what happened that fateful night. How could I forget? We were so young. We thought we knew what love was, and we thought that having sex would prove that. We were so wrong. We had been putting Christmas lights on a tiny tree in my room. As we finished stringing them, we noticed that only the bottom half of the tree was blinking. He had said he knew what he was doing, but clearly he didn't. We laughed as the tree blinked out of sync. One minute we were admiring the tree, and the next I was lying on the bed and he was pulling down his jeans. Not much happened in between. No kissing, no touching. There was no time to say anything. It just happened. To be honest, I didn't even realized what we'd done until it was over. The lights were still on, my clothes were still on, and there was no eye contact. We looked at each other briefly afterwards, but that was the last time he met my eye for the rest of the evening. As we heard, “The movie's starting!” from downstairs, he zipped up his pants and ran ahead, leaving me in the empty room. I felt confused and worried. During the movie we sat next to each other, but we might as well have been miles apart. His eyes were fixed on the screen but a huge smile was plastered on his face as if he was thinking, My goal has been achieved. I wanted him to hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay. Instead I got silence. We didn't talk for the next three days. No e-mails, no texts, no calls, no voice mails. The people I did hear from were the kids from his school, his friends. Boys and girls. Everywhere I looked there were mean words, rude comments, heartbreaking messages. At that point all I wanted to do was hide under a rock and stay there forever. There was never an explanation for those calls and messages. No apologies, not even a word about it. He and I never talked again. I'm telling this story for a reason. Believe me, I am not having a pity party for myself. I'm pouring my heart out because I've struggled over the past few years, blaming myself for what happened, hating myself for letting it happen. I've grown up a lot since then, and I know now that I'm not to blame. It's finally time to let go of those feelings. It happened, and I've accepted that it will be a part of me forever. But though I will always regret what happened that night, I have learned a lot about myself, who I am, and who I want to be. I have many friends who complain, “I haven't even had my first kiss yet!” And I always say to them what I'll say to you now: Wait. Just wait. There's no reason to rush. When you finally do have a first, make sure it's with someone special who respects you. Everyone deserves that. Life is full of firsts, but you only have one chance to make them special.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.