I probably should have written this before “The Stalker Situation” because it happened first. Just remembering these events and writing about them makes me feel anxious.
Before the end of grade eleven, and before the beginning of grade twelve, there was one situation that definitely haunted me up until the day I left high school.
I had come to rely on my old Math teacher for support – and I guess I was looking for a sort of comfort from him that I didn’t feel I was getting elsewhere. Out of all of the teachers I sought out, he was the one I felt the most comfortable talking to.
I was growing more lost every day, and pulling away from my circle of friends. I just wasn’t up to pretending to be okay most days, and I also stayed after school a lot so I didn’t have to pretend at home.
I began frequently, almost daily, staying after school to seek out my old Math teacher. Sometimes I would just sit in the classroom and try to do some homework. Other times I would chat with my old Math teacher about miscellaneous things, varying from homework to philosophy to life in general. I felt safe with him, and I felt that his care and concern was genuine. I also had a different class with him that year, and convinced myself that what I was doing wasn’t weird – just something that I desperately felt I needed.
One day, I stayed after school and shared a poem with my old Math teacher I wrote, about one time I was waiting for him to return when he left the classroom. I began writing poetry in the tenth grade, and sometimes I was brave enough to share some of my work with him. My poetry was a source of pride for me, and also a way to cope with the strange emotional states I was experiencing. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my work with anyone else, and I liked the warmth and satisfaction I felt when I was told my poetry was good. At the time I believed poetry was the only thing that I was good at, the only thing that gave me worth, other than my grades.
The whole poem described a scenery outside, and ended with my teacher entering the room, and me being brought back to reality and forgetting about the beauty of nature. It was supposed to be about quiet moments lost, disrupted by the business and vitality of life. However, since I am terrible at communicating orally, I just stuttered something about him being in it. It all went downhill from there.
My Math teacher proceeded to gently ask me if I had a crush on him.
I was so mortified that I am sure I looked guilty. My face felt like it was burning. I felt like such an idiot, especially when he said something along the lines of how could I have not known how it looked, and that other people noticed I was spending a lot of time with him.
After he pointed it out, I realized how it looked and I was deeply embarrassed of my behaviour. At the same time, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to continue it. It felt like I was compelled to seek him out. I was in misery, and he felt like a temporary cure from that misery. I felt that he was one of the only people who genuinely cared about me, and he made me feel good about myself. I felt like I could talk to him. I didn’t want to lose that.
I told him I did not have a crush on him, and then I went straight home. I cried myself to sleep, believing that I just screwed up everything. I avoided his classes for a while.
Fortunately, after a while the awkwardness dissipated, and slowly I felt sort of comfortable around him again. I was still compelled to seek him out, and it was extremely difficult to resist that urge. But the fact that other people had noticed, and were watching me, had etched itself into my brain. I was paranoid, to the point that I felt like I was doing something wrong by going to his class, and even randomly passing him in the hallway or making eye contact caused me significant anxiety. Sometimes the need to talk to someone overcame the need to avoid him. Sometimes avoiding him won.
I tried to tell myself that I hadn’t done anything wrong, that I just needed someone to talk to, but a nagging guilty sensation followed me whenever I saw him, up until the end of school.