nitty-gritty

Surprisingly enough, I first wrote this for ENG 2001. It talks about probably the darkest time of my life, a time filled with adolescent emotion and brokenness. But this was also a time for growth, and I’ve become the person I am today because I went though this. Was I depressed? Maybe a little. I was definitely confused. But I’m secure now. Yeah this is mostly about writing, but it’s also about me. This is my story, or at least a significant part of it.


When I was barely entering my teenage years, I had my first serious crush on a boy named GD. GD sat next to me in Pre-Algebra almost every day of seventh grade. He played electric bass in the worship band at my youth group, while I watched from afar. We spoke not two words to each other, but he defined two years of my life. I was completely infatuated with him. I changed my image to get GD’s attention; everything about myself that didn’t match his look and demeanor, I stuffed away, hoping to catch his eye. I became a completely different person to please him, and for those two years, I thought that that person was me. Did I like what I saw in the mirror each day? No, I felt quite the opposite. Despite that, I can further appreciate what I see now because of it. Middle school is hard enough for anybody; that kind of environment can be a culture-shock to someone as innocent and naïve as I was, so adding a crush to the mix can make it almost unbearable. This is an example of teenage angst at its finest, but in the end, it was that angst that helped me find a new form of expression, and I learned that expression could help me recover.

At thirteen, GD was typical crush-material. His long hair was unkempt and shaggy; his wardrobe consisted of Slipknot t-shirts and distressed pairs of Converse. He played in a band at school and at church; with his crackly voice, piercing light blue eyes, and nonchalant attitude, GD was a genuine bad boy, and I was drawn to him. I bought skin-tight jeans and drew on my sneakers; I started straightening my hair and listening hard rock. I started wearing makeup. I began to get compliments from former bullies, but GD never said a word.

Then, the gossip happened. Entering my eighth grade year at a different school, I found out that my hard work had payed off: GD had a crush on me! I was ecstatic, but I didn’t stop there. I started shopping at Hot Topic, and my makeup got darker and heavier. My musical tastes expanded to alternative, punk, and even metal. I was confident that destiny would take care of the rest.

Christmas break. One day, I come home to see a friend request pop up on my mom’s Facebook page. Sure enough, it was GD. Feeling the blood rise into my cheeks, I giggled and decided to stalk his page a little. While scrolling, all of a sudden my heart stopped. In the little box labeled “Relationship Status,” there was the gut-wrenching, time-stopping name of another girl.

The tears started coming, and they came fast; in under thirty seconds, I was sobbing. My mom hugged me close and stroked my hair a little, and then she left the room. Coming back and laying a hand on my shoulder, she handed me a thick, pink notebook. “I was going to save this as a Christmas present, but I’m thinking now would be a better time,” she said. She then called one of my friends to take me out for the day.

I went out for a few hours with my friend and her mom, which helped a little. As soon as they dropped me off, however, my despair came creeping back. Running downstairs into my basement bedroom, I grabbed the pink notebook and started scribbling down my woes, letting my tears stain the paper and smudge the words for an extra-depressing effect. I had written occasional diary entries in the past in various journals, but this was the first time I had ever done something like this, venting and translating my complex feelings into words.

Finished, I stared down at the page full of my heartbreak. I still felt miserable, but seeing a full and complete diary entry made me feel a little better at that moment. I started writing every day to every couple of days, any time I was affected by him, any time I felt that I needed to let my feelings out. Keeping a regular diary was a comfort to me, and I started to incorporate more optimistic entries, writing about the good as well as the bad; each time I finished an entry, I felt happier, and for a while, I was happier, but I still kept increasing my effort to get GD to notice me.

Eighth grade was the lowest point of my life. Because GD and I attended the same youth group, I had to see him there every week, which I both loved and hated at the same time. One night, I heard that he was asking about me, which sent me into a euphoria, thinking that he would finally talk to me. Throughout those entire two years, GD didn’t speak to me once; he would, however, stare at me constantly. I could always feel GD’s eyes on me, whether from the stage or from across the room. Every week, this would happen, and every week after I went home, I wrote about it in my diary. Almost all of my entries documented the confusion I was experiencing, wondering if he still had feelings for me while he was dating somebody else. Following my fourteen-year-old optimistic intuition, I was confident that he would break it off to be with me, and I mentioned it every time I wrote in my diary.

My optimism proved to be wrong. I came to youth group one fateful Wednesday night to find that GD had brought his girlfriend with him. I was sent into a tailspin, overcome with anger and desolation. After getting home, I had another complete breakdown. I snatched my journal from the shelf, digging my pen into the paper, expressing my anguish and fury. My mother and sister tried to comfort me. They told me that he wasn’t worth it; my adolescent brain told me that he was. GD was worth every time I burned my curly locks into submission, he was worth every Paramore t-shirt, he was worth every night spent crying over the fact that he wouldn’t give me the time of day. So I continued attempting to get GD’s attention, changing myself without speaking to him, cutting myself off from my family, bottling my feelings, convincing myself that I wasn’t worthy of any boy’s affections.

I started coming out of that phase when high school started, but I didn’t fully recover until the end of my sophomore year. As a freshman, I was around new people, people who appreciated me for who I already was rather than who I was trying to be, and I started to feel more comfortable being myself, but my mind was still wrapped around that boy’s finger, still continuing to cause me confusion. Little by little, however, I started to get better. I still wrote in my diary regularly, but my entries changed. More of them started to be dominantly about the incredible things happening in my life rather than about him, and I started to enjoy writing a lot more. Before long, I noticed that GD wasn’t mentioned once in any of my entries. From all the flat-ironing, my hair had become dull and lifeless, and it smelled burnt; in the spring of my sophomore year, I cut it all off, and nearly four years later, it’s close to its original wild and curly splendor. I was also taking a Creative Writing class that year, which caused me to love writing even more. In addition to my diary entries, I started creating stories, ones that I’m still proud of to this day.

A few weeks ago, as I was cleaning out my room to pack for college, I found that old pink diary, since then covered in crazy doodles and song lyrics. I looked through the pages, seeing how those entries kept me happy during those two years where my happiness was minimal. After closing it up, I threw the journal away; it was the final step to my recovery. Yes, a boy made my life into a mess for two years, but because of that, I can now finally look at myself in the mirror and smile, knowing that I am the only one who chooses who I can be.


There is so much more I could tell you all about this. My fall and recovery was emotional, mental, and spiritual. This post is mostly the first two. I just felt that publishing my English draft would be a public sign of my recovery. I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a long time. I’m also willing to talk more. If there’s anything you’d like to ask me, please leave a comment, or send me a message!

-Caitlin

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