(2/3) This lasted until a falling out over what was likely a boy but could have really been anything. We stopped our conversations and moved on to new friends.
My breasts began to grow and my curiosity in boys blossomed. I enjoyed talking with friends about the wonders of the discoveries of sex and how our own bodies were transforming. I could be listened to and listen to, but I started to suffer in new ways. I had no safe spaces, and I learned that my body was once again a warzone for creepy gazes and unwanted touching seemingly invited by an ever-tightening uniform shirt beckoned by a smile.
Teachers refused to help, the Christian leaders would turn their own cheek to look the other direction, and I was told to change my behaviors and dress to avoid their advances.
I knew all of that was bullshit, and it didn't stop the sexualized bullying that taught me that boys would terrorize my #sanctuary whether or not we had previously been friends or people knew what was going on. Girls began to gossip, otherize me, and label me as a slut. As beautiful as I see that word now, I simply couldn't fathom how I could be labeled in a way that signifies sexual prowess when I was wholly inexperienced.
I learned to mistrust groups as I learned that groupthink and crowd behavior would manifest in ugly, #bullying that lead to individuals feeling empowered to do shitty things to others that they wouldn't otherwise do on their own. I have been a manifestation of this, too, and I have experienced what an angry group's intention can lead an individual to do.
The beginnings of middle school were rough years, and I know I wasn't alone in the experience of receiving unwanted attention and mean girl gossip. The old wounds resurfaced, and new ones formed. (TBC)
P.S.- Check out the really awesome way my body folds as I twist. Isn't it amazing that the shape can do all sorts of shifts to accommodate our postures.