When we were 14, someone very close to me started dating a 29 year-old. We were at that age where we both desperately wanted to be considered adults, and she just seemed so proud and confident. Who was I to question her judgement, even if it made me uneasy and confused? She was an expert at dating, and I’d had an older crush, too. I should be happy for her!
It changed her. It just wasn’t the same between us after that. She tried to grow up too quickly for him, but there wasn’t any going back - even after she left him and realized her mistake, it was like she tried to distance herself from reminders of her childhood. Including her friends. As toddlers, we’d had our own special language, just between the two of us, but after 14, she stopped sharing her secrets with me until we slowly drifted apart. In a few years, we had become strangers.
I wish I’d said something. Done something. *Tried* to do something. She was always stubborn as a bull and would not have listened to me, but maybe after it was over, she would have forgiven me for trying to protect her. I imagine that, if she thinks of me at all now, it’s with a hint of resentment. I failed her enormously. Sure, I was only a kid. But I should have grown up enough to have listened to my instincts and spoken up.