I don’t hate people. Really. There are exceptions, of course: child molesters, the kid at school who called my daughter a “faggot,” Hitler. But I don’t feel hatred towards the people in my life; I don’t like the way it makes me feel.
Enter my son’s first serious girlfriend. By the end, well, really the middle, of their relationship, I literally and unequivocally hated her. I know what you’re thinking: I’m one of those crazy mother’s who hates every girl who shows any interest in her son. But that’s not me. I hated their relationship. I hated the way he acted while they were dating. At the bottom of every horrible thing during those almost two years, there she was. I didn’t start out wanting to hate her, but she gave me no choice.
When they first started dating, it seemed like a normal 10th grade relationship. There were rides to the movies and school dances, and dinners at her house. My son seemed happy to “finally” have a girlfriend. When the first gift-giving holiday rolled around and my son was reduced to tears because he couldn’t find the exact earrings his girlfriend had requested, a red flag went up. And for the next 18 months, the flags just kept popping up.
He stopped wearing certain clothes, saying he didn’t like them anymore. He stopped bleaching his hair and got it cut, explaining that, “he just felt like it.” Pop! Pop! When we invited her to our house for dinner, something always suddenly came up. Pop!
Every few months, without warning, she would break up with him. I would find him crying and all he would say, over and over, was, “I don’t even know what I did wrong.” After the first break-up, I asked if they had fought about anything and he said, “No.” I asked if she seemed upset about anything, and he said, “Nothing important.” After that I stopped asking; I knew a power-play when I saw one. I also knew enough to recognize a budding narcissist when I saw one. And there she was every afternoon at school pick-up, smiling at me as she held my son’s hand.
A few days after each break-up, she would take him back and I’d feel sick to my stomach. My husband and I knew if we forbid him from seeing her, it would just make her more attractive. So we gave him lots of pep talks and hugs. We told him how awesome he was and made sure he felt included in all family plans. But as the months went by he became more angry and spent more and more time behind the closed door of his bedroom. His younger sister would come downstairs shaking because she could hear him yelling at his girlfriend over the phone. I talked to him about it. I talked at him and over him. I played every card I had and still the relationship continued. My therapist said it would blow over, that we had to give our son the chance to fix things on his own, but I wasn’t so sure.
At the end of Junior year my son and his girlfriend went on a school trip to France. His light-bulb moment happened at the Holocaust Museum in Paris. In his own words, my son was extremely moved by everything he saw in the museum. He wanted to slow down and give each exhibit the respect it deserved. His girlfriend did not have the same response. She wanted to rush through the museum, so she could go shopping. At one point, she was actually stomping her foot as she yelled at him to hurry up. In that moment, he says, he realized that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life like that, or even another day. So in the most romantic city in the world, my son planted his flag and dumped his girlfriend.
His father and I didn’t learn about the break-up until almost a week after it happened. In the end it was a combination of the things we had been telling him from almost the beginning and then hearing the same words from his friends: you deserve better; that’s not what a relationship is supposed to be like; she’s a super-bitch! I will always be thankful for those friends of my son who had the courage to tell him what they really thought.
A professional might not agree with all the things we told our son in the trenches, but I wouldn’t take back a single word. He knew we loved him and, in the end, as corny as it sounds, I think that’s what actually saved him.
This author has chosen to publish her work anonymously.