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Seeking Clarity on Past Teacher's Intentions

Hi everyone I’m new here. I’ve been trying to come to terms with a relationship I had as a teenager that I’m now seeing through different eyes as an adult.

I had a teacher in 8th grade (my final year of middle school) who I became somewhat friendly with as the year went on. He was young, 24 years old, cool, and good looking, so naturally 13 year old me had a crush on him. I would sometimes stay after class for a few minutes and chat with him about science-y things but that was the extent of our relationship.

The following year when I moved to high school he also began teaching at my high school and I had him for science again. After class on the first day of school he gave me a smile as I was leaving and said “it’s nice to see you again (my name).” During that year our student-teacher relationship developed more into a mentor relationship and then more into a friendship. I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression, and I had recently lost a relationship with my brother (who is 8 year older than me) who kind of went off the rails with drugs and drinking. The teacher became my mentor, confidante, and friend. In some ways he was also an older brother figure to me (he was 11 years older than me), but with the odd dynamic of me also having a crush on him. I would go to him often for advice, and I had access to his personal email and would frequently email him. I would often visit him in his room at the end of the day and we would just hang out and chat. Usually it was just me. At some point he created an environmental club that I also joined so I was spending a lot of my after school time with and around him. I struggled with finding friends and he really became my only real friend. He came to a couple of church services that I had invited him to. He introduced me to rock climbing and there were a handful of times that I would meet up with him on the weekend and go to a rock climbing gym, although we were never alone. Usually it was him, myself, his girlfriend, and a couple of my friends (not students of my high school.) If I was out sick or if I didn’t come around and visit him for a bit, he would ask if everything was okay. At the end of the year I gave him a small gift of appreciation and a few days later (maybe the last day of school) he walked up to me and put a book with a card tucked inside on the desk next to me. He said that it was kind of a more new age style book and that he asked his girlfriend if she thought I would understand the message of the book and she replied something along the lines of me being old enough to understand it. We did email back and forth a couple times during the summer.

The first day of my sophomore year I went to his room at the end of the day since I hadn’t seen him yet (I went to a vocational school and the first week was shop week). When I walked into his room he got super excited, said “I miss you so much!” and then proceeded to walk up to me and embrace me in a tight bear hug while moaning “mmmm” and rocking me from side to side. I remember feeling like he wasn’t going to let me go and I remember feeling a little odd about it, but I had no reason not to trust him and knew he wouldn’t hurt me or take advantage of me. I also kind of liked it. For reference, I was 15 and he was 26. For the first couple weeks of school I had a hard time finding people to sit with at lunch so I ate lunch with him in his classroom. During one of these lunches alone with him he pulled out his guitar and started singing me a mainstream song that has my name in the title. I remember feeling so special. The rest of the year continued just like freshman year, although we were closer. At this point I really considered him to be my best friend. At the end of my sophomore year we did an overnight walk to raise money for cancer research. The participants were him, myself, his girlfriend, and a couple of students. Part of the rules of the walk was that someone from your team was supposed to be walking around the track at all times during the 24 hour walk. Around 12:30/1:00 in the morning I saw him walking by himself so I walked with him and we just chatted for awhile until he said he was gonna get some sleep.

I don’t remember if we had any correspondence during that summer, but when I came back on the first day of junior year he was gone. I tried contacting him and he never responded to me. I finally heard from him about 2-3 months into the school year. He had gone back to teaching at the middle school, but any questions as to what happened remained unanswered. After he left there was some emailing back and forth but not a lot. I knew somewhere within myself that him leaving had to do with me, and because I was never able to come to terms with what happened I internalized so much of that as my fault. I blamed myself for him leaving.

At the end of my senior year I wrote him a letter, explaining some things and looking for closure and answers from him. He didn’t respond to it. I happened to see him put in public a few months later and I asked him if I could visit him at his school and he said yes. I visited him and he was telling me about his classes and his students and he remarked about how one student in particular reminds him of me. I remember thinking “he does still care about me!” I did point blank ask him about why he didn’t respond to my letter and he said he didn’t know how to respond. Obviously this left me still feeling unsure but I decided to put it behind me. I got engaged to my husband soon after and I invited him and his now wife to my wedding and they did come.

He and I have been friends on social media for years, and we’ll occasionally comment on each other’s posts or PM to say an occasional hi or whatever. I have always viewed him as a mentor, a friend, an older “brother”, and someone who has made an impact on the person who I’ve become. I’ve seen him a handful of times out and about and we always chat. One day I was at my best friend’s house and she randomly brought him up and told me she thought he was grooming me and wanting something more. I told her there’s no way, he’s not like that. But ever since that day three years or so ago it’s been on my mind. A few months ago I was looking up the signs of grooming and I went into a panic because some of the signs matched with what our friendship was. I have since come to terms with the fact that he did cross boundaries as a teacher that he shouldn’t have and we were way too close, but I started to wonder if he was in fact grooming me and I was too naive to see it. I recently found out from a different friend whose mom works in a neighboring district that during the summer between my sophomore and junior year he was asked to leave due to an inappropriate relationship with a student. I know that student was me. It all made sense as to why he left without telling me, why I didn’t hear from him for awhile, and why he couldn’t answer my questions. But as far as what our relationship was- I honestly don’t know what to think at this point. I see evidence for both sides- evidence that points to grooming, but also evidence to a friendship that shouldn’t have happened but wasn’t nefarious. He was never overtly sexual with me, although I do wonder about the hug and the “mmmm” as well as the song. I don’t want to think that he had ulterior motives but I also don’t want to be stupid and naive about it either. Do you think this was grooming? Any insights would be extremely helpful!
 
men put out what they want to land. If you thought the hug was weird, it was. Maybe he just wanted to see if you thought it was and you put that out and he caught it, knew where the two of you stood and that was all.
I hope we are both wrong, I hope it wasnt a trial hug, i hope you just had a “okay ill hug, but its weird I think” moment and there was no danger to other kids.
But a male adult sending out a weird vibe to a kid is alarms and sirens if for no other reason than he confused you.
 
men put out what they want to land. If you thought the hug was weird, it was. Maybe he just wanted to see if you thought it was and you put that out and he caught it, knew where the two of you stood and that was all.
I hope we are both wrong, I hope it wasnt a trial hug, i hope you just had a “okay ill hug, but its weird I think” moment and there was no danger to other kids.
But a male adult sending out a weird vibe to a kid is alarms and sirens if for no other reason than he confused you.
Yeah makes sense as to why a few weeks later he serenaded me on his guitar. That kinda stuff is just not normal to do with a student.
 
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