I was 13 years old and completely in love. Craig was my first real boyfriend. He was everything I wanted: fun, cute and utterly devoted to mepractically and outgoing from the moment we met. After our first date, he wanted to be with me all the time. We spent every minute together. I didn't have to worry that he was cheating on me, and he never blew me off for his buddies. While my friends always seemed to have trouble getting time with their boyfriends, I knew I could always count on Craig. It was great to feel as though he couldn't live without me.
I made him my life. We'd go to the movies, study at "our table" in the library, take long walks. He made me feel so special. The more time we spent with each other, the more he wanted to be with me. He started asking me not to go out with my friends so much, saying he felt they encouraged me to party and flirt, and the thought of me so much as speaking to other guys drove him nuts. I thought his jealousy meant he was really in love with me, so I stopped hanging out with my friends as much. Only Tammy thought it was weird and called me on it. In fact, most of my other friends envied me. They thought it was cool that my boyfriend was so intense.
Craig and I had been a couple just over a month when the weather started getting nice, and his parents expected him to spend the weekends at the family beach houseabout an hour away from where we lived. The time apart only increased Craigs interest in me. He demanded to know what I was doing when I wasn't with him: where I went, who I went with, who else was there, how long I hung out, what time I got home. Since I thought it was because he missed me, I didn't realize he was turning into a control freak.
He would tell me to "be good" whenever he called me. What did he mean by that? Pretty much that I should have no social life without him. He expected me to stay at home and wait for him to call. It upset him if I went to a party or hung out with a group of guys and girls. I stayed homeit was easier to please him than to make him mad.
But when we were together during the week, it seemed as if Craig was unhappy with me. I simply couldn't please him anymore. If I was excited and having fun, he said I laughed too loudly and was obnoxious. But if I tried to tone down my enthusiasm, he would complain I was moping or sulking and a full on bore. He began to criticize my appearance, telling me how fat I was, even though I was a size seven.
In between his angry spells, however, Craig would be incredibly sweet. Especially when we were alone...especially when we were making out. Then he would say how much he loved me, that he wanted to be with me forever. It was easy to forget the bad stuff when he was so nice. I was so into Craig, I did everything he wanted me to doeven when I didn't agree with it.
I was confused and borderline miserable. In my mind, I couldn't wait to be with Craig but when we got together, it was rarely any good. I couldn't figure out what had happened to us. Sometimes, I would try to kiss him, but he would just turn his head so my lips landed somewhere near his ear. He would tell me he was coming over, then never showand when I asked him what was up, he'd say he changed his mind and decided to hang out with his friends. Still, he didn't give me the courtesy of telling me so I could make other planshe just stood me up. He expected me to be ready when he wanted to see me. He'd pick on me, swear at me, call me names. I would get upset and start to cry, and he would tell me I was being too sensitive, that he was only joking. When I asked him to explain his coldness, he told me I was overreacting and being too emotional.
One afternoon, I was sitting on my front porch, waiting for CraigI'd been waiting an hour, maybe more. My friend Tammy was riding by on her bicycle, and she waved at me. I realized how much I'd missed her and all my friends. When she didn't stopprobably because she figured I was waiting for Craig I jumped off the porch and ran after her, calling her name. She turned around and we went back to my house. We went inside to get some iced tea, and suddenly I started crying. It took me awhile to calm downthen everything that had been going on with Craig poured out of me.
Tammy was shocked. She'd always seen me as a strong personone of the more spirited and independent girls in our group. She said I was too good for Craig, that I should break up with him. Still, I couldn't do ityou see, Craig's behavior had really done a number on my selfesteem. He had started to convince me that I was a loserthat I should thank my lucky stars he had anything to do with me.
On the other hand, I had missed my friends so much, I knew I had to hook up with them again before they all forgot about me. Tammy and I made plans to go to the beach the next day. All the girls went, and we had a blast. I hardly thought about Craig at all. When I got home, he was there, waiting for me. First, he asked me very quietly where everyone wasmeaning my familybecause he had been sitting on the porch for a long time. We went inside my house, and he grabbed my wrist, then demanded to know what I had been "up to." When I said I'd gone to the beach, he flew into a rage. Screaming, he accused me of being a slut, flaunting myself in front of "all those guys on the beach." I tried to defend myself rationally, but Craig twisted everything I said.
I sat on the sofa in the living room while he paced back and forth in front of me, calling me every name in the book. He had his hands clenched into fists and I began to fear that he would hit me. Just then, my mom and sister returned. They just stood outside listening to Craig verbally abuse me. An instant later, they were through the door. Craig spun around and came face to face with my mom. She was lividyou could see it in her face. "How dare you talk to my daughter like that!" my mom said. "Get out of this house right now, Craig, you're out of control." He calmed down instantly and tried to tell my mom some story, but she wouldn't have any of it. She threw him out, then came to me and we hugged.
The first week back in school, I saw Craig and my heart turned over in a kind of confused agony. Fortunately, I was with Tammy and some other friendsthey gave me the strength to walk right by him without speaking. I could feel his eyes burning holes in my back, but I kept my head held high and never looked back.