As a teaching artist of creative writing, I know firsthand how therapeutic and empowering it can be to put a pen to paper. But I also know how, as a young man, that’s the last thing you are often encouraged to do. I didn’t really start writing until college. So for those who find their safe space in the written word at a younger age, I find it truly inspiring. As Adam continued to struggle with his own sense of self worth in high school, he, too, realized that, although he couldn’t prevent his heart from being broken, he could find a powerful way to find meaning, hope, and eventually strength.

In high school, things began to change. I ended up joining football, which was an extra ticket item that made people more attracted to me. But I still denied half of it. I remember getting beat up by my older brother because he was mad that a lot of my friends would go to him to see if I was dating someone or if I was interested in them. But I would always deny it. He would get so frustrated because he thought that any guy who had that many girls flocking after them would be lucky, but I just didn’t see it.

It wasn’t until the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school that I decided to be in a relationship. At first, I thought about swearing off relationships until I was in college, but I ended up meeting a girl during the camp. Around that time, I was really into studying massage therapy because I always felt such a spiritual connection to the body. So, when I massaged her hands, I felt I could really feel the genuine attraction between us.

After that, we went on a couple of dates and eventually got together. It didn’t really last very long, but the most important thing is that I found out she had actually already broken up with me two weeks after it had supposedly happened, and from a friend of hers. To me, I thought we’d randomly stopped communicating because she was just busy. But then her friend reached out to me one day, asking how I was taking the break up. But I had no idea what she was talking about. Her friend said that she’d sent me a text message saying it was over.

What upset me the most was that it was supposedly through a text. And I really hate disconnected forms of communication. That affected me so much that I ended up accidentally injuring one of my fellow players on the football team who was one of our hardest hitters after tackling him too hard. He was out for a week.

I found out she had actually already broken up with me two weeks after it had supposedly happened from a friend of hers. She said she’d sent a text message, saying it was over.

After that, I dated another girl who I thought was a better fit, but she would always keep getting pissed at me. So, to make sense of how I was feeling, I started writing a lot of poetry. In my pieces, I never spoke badly about her no matter how mad she thought I was. I talked about how great she was even though she didn’t like me. I always blamed myself, not her. When people would see me scribbling in my notebook by myself, they would ask to read them.

Eventually, everyone talked about how well I wrote and wanted to read more of my work. And so when they wanted to know what it was about, I said it was about her. As word got around, she assumed I was talking bad about her, which led to her eventually confronting me about it. When she did, I gave her the journal and told her to read them if she really wanted to know what was in it.

She opened up the journal and started reading. Before she could even finish all of a poem, she gave it back to me and said she didn’t need to read anymore. We never really broke up and I thought everything was good. I remember that she was still around for my birthday, but that she later broke up with me via a message on MySpace.

Yeah, I was hurt and frustrated, but I went with it. Then a rumor went around that the reason she broke up with me was because she was trying to get with a basketball player. I knew that he was very attractive, a scholar, and a great player. I’d known him since middle school. But what I also knew was that he focused mainly on his studies. When all of this happened, he was scared of me because he thought I wanted to beat him up. When I finally had a conversation with him, I told him we were good and not to worry about it.

In my [poetry], I never spoke badly about her no matter how mad she thought I was. I talked about how great she was even though she didn’t like me. I always blamed myself, not her.

Eventually, her mom called me and asked if I ever knew what happened between me and her daughter. I told her that I wasn’t really sure. That’s when she explained that her daughter was always upset because she felt like my mother and older brother never accepted her. I just remember being frustrated because all of that had happened and she never told me the truth about why.

Not long after everything settled down, she called me when I went to New Jersey to see a great grandmother of mine who was 106 years old. She called me and asked if I would ever want to get back with her again. In my head, I knew I wasn’t interested in playing that game because I knew she’d recently gotten a boyfriend. So, I never talked to her again.