Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Monday, October 28, 2013

That One Word

He was the most physically perfect human I had ever seen in real life.

Yellow blonde hair. Baby blue eyes. A chiseled face that couldn't have turned out more beautiful had it been crafted by a meticulous sculptor.

But he was filled with hate.

In middle school, that hate was directed at me.

You see, Jake was the most popular boy in school. He was at the very top of the food chain. Even his cool friends didn't seem as cool as him. None of them, not even the beautiful cheerleaders, could match him in the looks department.

It was my first day of eighth grade. I had just transferred from another school. Because of our last names, Jake had to sit next to me in homeroom. He took one look at me and sneered, "I have to sit next to the squaw, great."

I was so stunned and mortified, I didn't even correct him that I wasn't Native American.

Jake seemed so repulsed by the mere presence of my face that he couldn't help his outbursts every time he saw me, whether it was in class or in the hallways.

I had dandruff. My long brown hair was ratty. I was weird. Shut up, what you are looking at squaw?

All his words.

Of course, I wasn't the only victim.

Other kids were disgusting for being "fat." Another girl had "Muppet lips." The boy sitting behind us in homeroom "smelled" because he was "poor."

Out of all his insults, the one that had the greatest and most long-lasting impression on me was when he glared in disgust at my face during homeroom one day and called me "ugly."

It broke my heart.

Nobody had ever called me that to my face before. It confirmed my biggest fear, the one gnawing at the back of my mind since elementary school. I was ugly.

It's amazing how one insult, no matter how untrue, becomes your truth. Your shrunken confidence allows it to scar you, to brand you.

A billion people afterwards could tell you you're the most beautiful woman in the world, but you'll never believe them. Because when you were 13, the most popular boy in school called you ugly. And you believed him first.

A year later, in high school, Jake and I didn't have any classes together and he eventually moved on to mocking the physically and mentally handicapped kids. When he passed me in the hallways, he pretty much forgot I even existed. I was relieved.

My dad's job was transferred to another state and I moved away at 16, never to see Jake again.

But I still see Jake's face and hear his words when I want to forget them. I don't believe people when they say I'm attractive. Instead, I see Jake telling me otherwise. Even now, in my late 20s.

I don't know what angers me more: the words themselves or that I allowed those words to destroy me.

I was visiting a childhood friend at the hospital a couple days ago. She had her appendix removed.

I was sitting by her bedside, reminiscing about people we used to know in middle school, when she suddenly exclaimed, "do you know about Jake?"

I looked up, startled.

"Know what?" I asked.

She pulled out her iPhone and showed me Jake's Facebook profile. I had never seen it before because, obviously, I would never friend request him.

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Jake is gay.

Not just gay, but he's an entire fruit salad.

Photos revealed him kissing a haughty looking male model next to a Fashion Week runway, drinking a pink cocktail on a sandy beach, and straddling a pole at a gay bar. His interests include "poodles," "fashion," and "cuddling." A status revealed he's "here and queer and you bitches better get used to it." He lives in New York City and he works for Vogue.

During high school, Jake always dated the cheerleaders. It never occurred to me that he really wanted the football players.

Seeing the de-closeted Jake in front of me, on that little screen, didn't change my opinion of him. That look, that mean streak, that blinding arrogance, remains in his icy blue eyes. He might be gay, but he's still Jake.

He's still the boy who ripped my heart out and left it bleeding in my hands with one little insult.

And I still haven't put it back.

I hope one day I do.

Because I want to believe I'm beautiful.


Dayle said...

Such a touching post, Jenny. And I can understand it completely. But eventually, the insults will fade and slowly disappear from your memory to be replaced by happier, brighter memories.

Cinderella said...

Jen, I have been reading you for quite sometime now, you're witty, you're funny, you're kind, you're sensitive, and if you are not beautiful then I dont know what is. Believe.

Sherin said...

It is awful how one insult is so much more powerful than all the compliments in the world! We've all been there and we've all had our Jakes.

Shybiker said...

I'm sorry you were hurt. We're vulnerable at that age. Someone as venomous as this fellow obviously had his own issues propelling him toward nastiness: it was an externalizing of his self-loathing. That isn't an excuse; his bullying behavior is inexcusable.

To survive, I learned early in life not to care about what others think. Their judgment of me is unimportant. I hope you can find similar solace.

Jade | JadeFungBlog said...

Omg I was reading that thinking you were about to say Jake passed awayl!! I was going to say that people like that never get anywhere in life after school ends, so it's annoying to say the least that he works for Google. But you are loving your life and you have Rian and you are clearly beautiful so Jake can sod off and hopefully get fired!

Jade | JadeFungBlog

Chris said...

So true..I still live in the past sometimes...and I can't seem to forget all the nasty Jakes I knew...

Anonymous said...

I wish Jake could read this post. Was he fighting his own demons when he was such a bully? Who knows . . . anyway, you ARE beautiful, inside and out. It's hard not to let other define you, but really we are what we tell ourselves we are, so tell yourself how beautiful you are! :o)

ravenlocks said...

If we knew then what we know now...I don't think anyone would ever have bullies in elementary school. I've learned that usually people who are suffering are the ones who treat everyone else like garbage.

Calling someone ugly is by far the worst thing you could call them. I remember the first time a stranger called me ugly. I never forgot it! I was in high school and this girl yelled as I walked by, "I never knew someone who has such cute shoes could be so ugly." LOL!! It's funny now...but back then it really hurt.

You're beautiful, Jenny. Believe it! :)

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Oh dear...I had a boy in school that was the same to me as well. I think many of us do sadly. I can think of him and feel all the horrifying feelings all over again like I was stood in front of him. It's terrible when one person can say or be one way to us and we just can't get it out and away. I hope you do one day because it feels so much better. I found the person who was that way t me on facebook once, he looks terrible now...I mean like he stopped taking care of himself, didn't make me feel good as I thought it might, I felt sorry for him really. But, then I didn't look at his page again, I felt I had grown to be a good person and treat others better and I didn't need any revenge or to laugh at him the way he did me. I was an ugly duckling, bad skin and hair, I was the only mixed race girl in my class, I was poor and lived on the 'wrong' side of the tracks, troubled home, so that never made highschool great & people were so very mean. A lot of them now try to friend me on facebook & I ignore it as I'm not interested in anything like that. You are gorgeous doll, a true beauty and I hope that one day you find that in yourself and believe it and know it!! You make us all laugh and feel good and that to me is true beauty, it doesn't matter about the outside, because that fades, what you have inside is forever. are freakin gorgeous, so know it doll!! xx

Oh to Be a Muse said...

Now that Facebook post you wrote makes more sense to me. I hope you don't dwell too much on one 13 year old boy's opinion of you, especially since he wasn't even into girls. I know how beautiful you are both inside and out! I'd take your awesome hair any day. :)

Imogen said...

I can't tell you how happy I was to see another post from you. This is a captivating post, every word is impacting. I can relate so much. I'm so sad to hear you had this experience. It's awful how much it can affect you well into the future.,I have major problems with this sort of thing. So often I feel like a loser and completely worthless because of bullying from the past, despite many people would say the opposite now.

love jenny xoxo said...

Amazing post, I'm sure everyone has a Jake-type story. I'm sure he was so insecure which is why he felt the need to act the way he did, but it definitely doesn't excuse it. But you are definitely beautiful and he definitely still has issues he needs to figure out.


L KC said...

We should talk. X- L.

Obat alami asam lambung tinggi said...

Love your style and blog. We have similar fashion taste.

Wiola said...

Unfortunately I know this too well. You know the saying "Sticks and bones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me"? That saying is so wrong that it's hurtful.

obat ginjal said...

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obat gatal di selangkangan said...

It is awful how one insult is so much more powerful than all the compliments in the world! We've all been there and we've all had our Jakes.

Obat radang amandel bengkak said...

go go go go move on

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