I dated a murderer.
It’s still hard to hear, hard to believe, hard to reconcile.
I dated someone who killed another human being.
It was senior year of high school, our class amping up for the last series of celebrations of our school careers. The first to come was homecoming and couples were quickly pairing up. *Ben and I had hung out a bit and when he asked me to go to homecoming with him, I was excited that we could accompany each other that upcoming night.
That weekend in October came quickly, my girlfriends and I spending the previous few weeks shopping for dresses and discussing hairdos, and that Saturday afternoon, putting all the pieces together. We curled each other’s hair and gave makeup tips, passing the time until the boys would come and pick us up for the evening.
No one came.
Then a cell phone rang. It must be them telling us they were running late.
A girl’s voice responded, “Hey, is Brooke there? Is she safe? Did you hear about Ben? He did something bad.”
We all chuckled, thinking it was a joke and hung up the phone.
But then it rang again. Someone else telling us the same thing. Then again. And again.
“Did you hear? Ben killed his parents.”
We had received a call from a school staff member confirming a nightmare. My date had murdered his parents earlier that day.
I fell to the ground in shock. My girlfriends and I stared at each other in horror and helplessness. What were we supposed to do now? How did this happen? We decided that we should head to the police station.
It was a surreal next few hours. We sat in a room for what felt like forever, writing statements and waiting for our parents to arrive. The moments were full of shock, the comprehension of what happened beyond our grasp.
I never heard from Ben again. No phone call, no letter, nothing. I was saddened, my heart broke for him, a 17 year old boy throwing his life away because he had run into conflict with his parents. I was angry and felt used. I was thankful I had decided to hang out with my girlfriends that Saturday instead of spending the day with Ben.
It took me a while to learn to trust others again, keeping myself at a distance, thinking everyone harbored deep and dark secrets within their being. However, I didn’t shut myself off completely because I knew I didn’t want to live alone and isolated. The process of healing was long and I still have so many questions I wish I had answers to, but I have been able to not hold onto the past as tightly as I once did.
People will hurt us and people will let us down. They will do things you thought they were never capable of doing. Do we hold onto the anger, hurt and bitterness, walking throughout the world with a lens of negativity? Or do we process, heal, and grow, using what we’ve been through to gain empathy and understanding in life?
I’ve chosen the latter, as difficult as that may be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The rest is up to you. Which will you choose?