When I was 17 I jilted a boy, at least that was his version of our story. My truth is that I stayed with someone out of fear and desperation and when the opportunity came along to get out I took it. My escape did not come without a cost however.
One day at the end of school I was walking alone towards the back of campus where my truck was parked when I saw it, the gauntlet laid down before me. This was the day I learned the true meaning of the phrase walk of shame.
My ex was there with his imbecile best friend and the best friend’s equally moronic girlfriend. The friend and his girlfriend (who both needed no reason to be cruel but felt that my moving on from their friend gave them a good one) were perched on top of a cement planter waiting; my ex stayed below looking sheepish and trying to appear innocent and unaware. He fooled no one, not me at least that is for sure.
They saw me and I paused. I did not know what to expect. These two goons barely shared one functioning brain between them, I had no idea what they were capable of or if they even had a plan. I considered my options:
Leave my truck and walk home, come back for it later.
Walk around the back of the art building and out the other way, avoiding them all together.
Get a teacher.
Walk into it and out the other side.
I cancelled the leave my truck idea worried they would trash it or that the gates would be locked when I try to come back for it.
Then I vetoed the back of the art building as an option because it was clear these two were out for blood and they were not going to let me get by without whatever public display of humiliation they had in store for me, surely they would follow me.
Get a teacher seemed like a solid option but unfortunately that was not me, back then when I was in trouble I would not ask for help. Somehow it seemed like that shame would be more unbearable than whatever these two had in mind.
So with one option left I took a deep breath and proceeded forward towards the parking lot.
I braced myself for anything not knowing whether to expect a verbal or physical assault. I knew the friend would not touch me, he thought himself too much a gentleman to hit a girl, his girlfriend was another story. I figured even if she did come after me I could take it though, I had been taking hits from guys twice her size most of my life, I would survive any damage she would try to do.
Then it began. I was still a ways off when it started. SLUT! WHORE! SKANK!
Pointing and screaming, saying my name for all to hear with every foul insult man has ever created about women following close behind.
People stopped and looked. No one coming to my aid, all standing by and watching the public shaming take place. My ex just shrugged his shoulders as I passed him as if these were wild animals I could not possibly expect him to control.
The insults rained down upon me like a furious toxic rain as I hurried by. Getting louder and more aggressive as I walked away towards the safety of my truck. I could feel their frustration from my lack of response. They had hit their mark but my nonreaction gave them no indication of how deep they had wounded their prey. I would not give them that.
I left campus without looking back.
I do not remember how I licked my wounds that day. I am sure I just cried until I was cried out because that is all I ever did. Cried until it felt like my eyes would bleed from asking too much of them with my relentless sobs.
I think the thing that kept them from breaking me that day was the fact that I walked through it and survived. I did that by myself for myself. AND I knew none of it was true. When you know who you are you will never believe the lies anyone else tries to tell you about yourself.