Dear Older Man I Dated As A Teen,
Do you ever think about me? Do you wonder if I’ll write about you — if I’ll take to the Internet to shout out loud about what you did to me?
Are you happy now? California is beautiful and so is your family. Your wife looks your age, and your children look angelic.
Do they know about me? I wouldn’t have told them. But I won’t be insulted if the answer is no.
I look you up sometimes, not out of longing or confusion anymore, but out of sheer curiosity. What are you doing now? Have you ruined any other women’s lives since we stopped speaking?
Not that you ruined my life, of course.
I’m doing incredibly well. I’m surrounded by loving children and a husband I couldn’t imagine my life without. He’s my everything. Everything I have left that is. And that’s a lot.
I quite like who I am now, actually. But would you like her? Would you like what you’ve made?
My father was a narcissist, so it was only natural that I’d go out of my way to find another older man to try to impress once daddy’s hold started to slack. And don’t kid yourself — you’re a narcissist, too. At least you were. Have you changed at all, other than your neck getting thinner and your eyelids heavier?
Is your navel still pierced?
Do you still have that phoenix tattoo on your calf?
Are your legs still shaved?
Do you still cycle?
I’ve got a house now, and a car, and a family, and a dog. I’m your age now. The age you were when we met and started dating — when you sucked the life out of my 15-year-old self.
“All guys are dirt,” you would say. “Except me.” You were half right.
I try to imagine seducing a teenage boy, and I cannot. What did you see in me? Why did you want me at all?
I remember waiting for hours in your garage for you to come home from your grown-up life to kiss me for just a few minutes before you would drive me back to my car and tell me we shouldn’t do this anymore. I remember the cum stains on my pink jean shorts, on my dad’s old pocket t-shirt.
I remember my mother nearly breaking down your door to find me, how you hid behind your couch while I dealt with her alone at 16. God save me from children like myself. God save my children from men like you.
I started parking in the woods a mile from your home so my mom wouldn’t find us again.
You’re lucky you didn’t go to jail. If this happens to my kids, I’m putting the motherf*cker responsible behind bars. I’m so angry, so incredibly angry. Why me? I was just a typical teenager; a little too round, a little too cherubic, a little too impressionable. Did I stalk you? Did I force you to keep seeing me?
I have our old emails, you know. Every few years, I look back at them and you don’t look good, my friend. I’m embarrassed for you. Your turns of phrase are so juvenile, your inept attempt at Internet-speak so transparent.
You led me on. You lied to me. But you were into it. I can see it in the messages. You made me believe. You quoted me poetry and wrote me four times a day about your big, grownup life, how you were going to conferences, working for a promotion, and going on ski vacations with all your grownup money.
Meeting in church was a really nice touch, I think. Do you still collect the money from the good Catholics each Sunday? Are you afraid? I am. Will it prevent you from ever seeking me out to explain your behavior? Will it end my chances of ever getting to ask you these things to your face?
If I saw you again now, would my heart drop out of my chest? Would I strip for you in public and beg for your lips? Would I still feel this angry? You hardly even affect me anymore.
Who would I be without you? Would she have been better than who I am now?
The knowledge that no matter what I do or where I go, you’ve shaped me, is what absolutely kills me. I’m afraid I’ve made no mark on you at all, and that’s my biggest fear. To leave this earth without making a mark. I’m important. I’m intelligent. I’m somebody worth knowing.
Do you approve of me? Of who I’ve become? Can you see me?