Thursday, May 10, 2012

Riki's History Part 4: Depressed & Desperate

Even after the past three entries, I know this one is going to be the worst.  I'm reliving some seriously messed up stuff and I honestly look back at my life and wonder how I let it get to that point.  The best I can do is try to learn from the past and keep moving forward.

So, when we left off, I was about to leave college for the second time and had met Shane.  Shane was a 19 year old guy I met online.  He was from Missouri, and we had a few things in common.  At college, I didn't date much (or really at all; I was seeing one girl for awhile, but nothing really came of it), so the attention I got online (AOL, baby... I'm that cool) made me feel special.  There were a few guys I IM'd with frequently, but Shane was my favorite.

After I had gone home, my parents insisted I get a job.  I half-heartedly looked, thinking I'd be back for the spring semester, but it wasn't to be.  For a couple of weeks, I lived with my best friend L and her family because I just couldn't take my own family anymore.  "You're breaking your mother's heart, you know," my dad told me.  I knew.  But at the time, I just needed to get out.  On top of this, I had stopped taking my anti-depressants.

The first time we talked on the phone (January 2005), Shane had told me he would sound funny, something about altering his voice.  It should've been a ginormous flag, but I just figured he was being goofy.  That's what we did!  We had fun and flirted and laughed.  Shortly thereafter, I finally got a part-time job.  A few weeks in, I bought my very first cell phone so I could talk to Shane any time I wanted.  By that summer, I was racking up some hefty phone bills (mostly because of texting).

I considered Shane my boyfriend.  I talked to him more than anyone else I knew, and we had such great conversations.  Most of the time.  Sometimes it felt like he wanted me to do nothing but sit around at home and talk to him or (in his absence) think about him or just do nothing.  One time that bothered me in particular was my 21st birthday.  He didn't want me to go out to drink, but there was no way I was missing out on hitting the bars for the first time.  Between texts and phone calls, he kept bugging me all night until I finally stopped responding.

A few times we had broken up (the first time having been a few weeks before my 21st birthday) and then gotten back together.  We were in love, and someday we would get to be together in person.  The drama kept mounting, though.  Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, and looking back, I can't believe how gullible I let myself be.  I believed all kinds of things. 

Want an example?  Once, I believed that he was at a water park and hit his head, giving him some form of amnesia.  I learned this through texts that were supposed to be from his friend telling me this, and warning me that Shane might not remember me.  I was devastated (K probably remembers this; we were over at D's for movie night, I think) and didn't know what to do.  Miraculously enough, everything ended up OK and Shane was fine.

Every day, every week it got harder and harder.  One day we'd be happy and all would be well.  The next we'd be fighting or breaking up and I'd be sure my life was over.  For awhile, we were "engaged" and were planning to get married in a few years.  I even started picking out dresses and rings online (it's the closest I ever got to dreaming of my wedding before I got engaged to Hubby).

For a year this all went on.  My friends thought I would be better off without him.  I know my parents thought so.  But he was the only person I was certain loved me at that point in my life.  I didn't get to go back to school that fall (I hadn't earned enough money for my parents to give the OK), and soon I found out that my sister (K) was moving across the country.  Nothing felt right except for Shane.

So, naturally, that's when my world came crashing down.

In November 2005, more than a year after I'd first "met" him, Shane called to say there was something important we had to talk about.  20-year-old Shane was in fact a 15-year-old girl (we'll call her Girl X).  Her parents had found out about how she had been lying to me (and them) and made her own up to things.  As I talked to her mom and things unraveled, everything started making sense.

The reason "Shane" was always at the local high school ("he" told me he worked there, but Girl X was really a student there).  All the times I heard people call her by her real name (a unisex name).  The extravagant stories meant to force us to break up because she couldn't simply do it.  The excuses for why we couldn't meet (because she wasn't who I thought), and the "altered" voice (in my defense, she had a very gender-neutral sounding voice over the phone). 

Girl X wasn't to contact me anymore, but she did.  She apologized and told me that she really did love me.  And being as depressed and desperate as I was, I kept talking to her because I loved her, too.  I don't care about gender (it's one of the perks to being bisexual, I guess).  A body is just a body; I was in love with the person inside and the body wasn't even a factor.  We secretly kept talking for a day or two until her dad found out.  At that point, it came down to this: Either I stopped contacting Girl X, or they were going to essentially flag me as a child predator and things would've gotten U-G-L-Y.  I opted for the former.

She kept trying, though.  I'd get texts, but I kept ignoring them.  Her or her friends would keep emailing me or IM'ing me.  Within a week, I changed my phone number.  I had blocked her on AOL, along with all her "friends."  At least once she tried to trick me into talking to her.  I had gotten an IM and was chatting with some guy when things started getting weird.  It dawned on me that it must've been her, and I said goodbye and blocked that name, too.  A few years later, I think she might have tried again, but I can't say for sure.  The last time I know I talked to her was 6 and a half years ago.  

This whole thing sounds insane.  I'm aware.  It's hard to believe that I didn't see the signs, right?  You only see what you want to see sometimes, and all I wanted was someone who loved me and made me feel worthwhile.  I sometimes suspected that maybe "Shane" was in high school, but I figured maybe he was a senior and just didn't want me to write him off as being too young.  Never did I suspect he was female, nor that she was only 15. 

At first, I missed her.  Terribly.  My best friend/sister was moving away, I'd lost the person I loved, and I was feeling utterly alone.  But as time went on, I realized that she had lied to me for a year, and instead of being sad, I was just plain old pissed off.  Mostly, I think, at myself for being so trusting, so blind to everything.  I was embarrassed and hurt, and I told very, very few people the truth about what happened.  Now you all know the truth.

My depression and low self-esteem can't take all of the blame for what happened, I know, but they played a pretty major role in things.  Had I been a happier, more confident person, I wouldn't have been spending my entire life online talking to strangers who (at least seemingly) accepted me without question.  I probably would have found more joy in the world around me, I might not have felt like the only way someone could love me was without having to be physically with me, and maybe I could have found happiness in loving myself instead of seeking someone else's love.

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