It’s when you don’t have much to say that you realise how much is unsaid.
He was seventeen and tall with a blonde buzz cut, big pillowy lips and the most beautiful green eyes that showed flashes of real softness when he called me his “little fruitcake”. He was from Stoke and I could listen to him talk for hours, which I did when we spoke every night on the phone. I met one of his friends who was working at Bognor Butlins for the summer and we had a group Yahoo chat which slowly became a one on one chat before we swapped numbers and it went from there. Internet dating ahead of the trend if you will. I was sixteen and a half and in a maelstrom of grief having lost my Mum earlier that summer, Freddy was there for me, even if he wasn’t there for me in the physical sense. I could feel myself falling for him as I spent hours confiding in him and listening to his secrets, playing our favourite songs to each other, deciding “our song” and dreaming of the day we would meet.
I remember speaking to his Mum and Dad, them telling me that I was the best thing in his life and that he’d blossomed since we’d started talking and then eventually the time came for him to come down, for us to meet and more importantly, to do the deed. I met him off the train, so nervous I could barely remember my own name and rather taken aback when he stepped off the train into my arms and stuck his tongue rather forcefully into my mouth. That should have been my first warning sign but it wasn’t, so blinded was I by his sweet words when I needed them more than anything due to my life being upside down and back to front. When he forcefully thrust his hand down the front of my skirt and into my knickers right there on the platform, I should have kicked him, slapped him, done SOMETHING. Instead I stood there attempting to squirm away until he stopped and removed his hand.
Of course we had sex, me giving up my precious virginity so easily on a rickety sofa bed that he wouldn’t even let me unfold, so desperate was he to get me into bed. At the time I felt like a Goddess after all I was fat, a bit weird and very depressed and here was this handsome man who couldn’t and wouldn’t keep his hands off me. We had sex so much in that weekend that I couldn’t walk properly for almost a week afterwards. He did things to me that I will never talk about, nor repeat with any future partners as I can see now that they were degrading, dehumanising and not the actions of someone “in love”. Because of course he told me he loved me, couldn’t live without me, wanted to move to the coast to be with me, even went as far as buying a ring which I never wore for fear of my Dad’s reaction. Then he started to go AWOL for days on end, drinking himself to obliteration before appearing again sheepish and apologetic, denying all the rumours of other girls that had made their way to me from his friends.
With the exception of his friend who worked that summer at Butlins I never met anyone else in his life. Every time I suggested a trip North it was rebuffed, replaced with an offer for him to come to the South, if I paid for his ticket of course. Promises of paying me back, promises of getting a better job and being able to start our life together. The weekend we broke up was like any other, he was in the South and using me as his plaything regardless of whether I wanted it or not. I always acquiesced because in amongst all the flashes of softness in his eyes was a cold steel glare and a temper that I was afraid of provoking. We went to my local pub for some drinks, he was making comments about a particularly busty blonde friend/frenemy of mine, about how fit she was and how he’d “like a go on that”. I can see now it was all psychological mind games to keep me doing exactly what he wanted in order to keep him happy, to keep him. We were both drinking, he was putting away Stella at a fair old pace and then they called last orders and it all started to unravel.
Walking back down the quiet street on a sleepy little private estate, Freddy had issues with putting one foot in front of the other and somehow it was my fault, “stupid bitch” he’d mutter every time he stumbled. I ended up putting my arms round him and attempting to keep him upright as we made our way home. He was heavy, like a dead drunken weight and my arms got too tired to hold him up. I dropped him and he fell like a stone into some shrubbery. The shock of hitting the floor made him regain his senses, he sprang to his feet “you fucking cunt” before threading his hands round my neck and starting to choke me. “That’s your fault you bitch.” I was trying to push him away but didn’t have the strength, “You ugly whore, as if I could ever fancy you”, I was whimpering and just when I should have been screaming blue murder and kicking up a fuss I was trying to minimise the fuss to avoid bringing middle class shame on my family, imagine the neighbours hearing that I’d been attacked in the street by my working class Northern boyfriend *gasp* they’d never get over it.
I felt Freddy was starting to get into his stride, I was trying to crumple into a ball but he was holding me up, spitting obscenities into my face, I was useless, I was ugly, I was a whore, a slut, a slag. And then a friend of my older brother who had been in the pub and had wandered past our table a couple of times giving me a look as if to say “Everything alright Al?” appeared. He ran over, wrenched Freddy off and dispatched him with a thump to the stomach before taking me into his arms, wrapping me up tightly and telling me I was safe. I told him it wasn’t what it looked like, that I was fine, and then I begged him not to tell anyone what had just happened. I pleaded with him to help me get Freddy back to the house and then I left him stood at the end of the driveway, watching me limp into the house with my dead weight of a boyfriend.
In the light of day I hadn’t wised up, I was convinced it was my fault because I was a bad girlfriend. Even when Freddy woke up and the first words out of his mouth were “Do you think your friend X would fuck me?” Later that day I waved him on to the train, tears running down my face at him leaving me for what would turn out to be the last time. I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t me who ended it. I didn’t have the balls or the self respect to tell him to go to hell. He broke up with me. I was boring, I wasn’t fit, I was a stuck up bitch who wouldn’t fit in up North, I was easy and could one of his friend’s come down and fuck me considering I’d given it up so easily for him.
It makes me sick thinking about it now. Not his behaviour, because some people are just cunts, but my reaction to it. Or rather my total lack of reaction to it. He made me feel worthless, that I have nothing to offer a man and that my place in life is the ugly, boring, easy girl who has to give it up to undeserving men because no one else will ever want me. I was thinking about this in the shower earlier, about how I’ve never told anyone what really went on. On the outside I made sure my friends thought it was all hearts and flowers when actually it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Now fourteen years on I think I am finally ready to say what I should have said a very long time ago.
FUCK YOU, FREDDY. Fuck your bullshit that made me feel worthless, fuck you for forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do, for using me like a piggy bank, for treating me like shit, for making me doubt how awesome I am. Fuck you.