I'm Almost 40 Now — But One Moment In High School Changed My Ability To Trust Forever

Some things stay with us a lifetime and shape the people we become.

Teenager, shocked and crying after school accused her of bulimia crisserbug via Canva | ASphotofamily via Canva | sshepard via Canva

I’ve been out of high school for 20 years now. A lot has happened in that time — I’ve graduated college, gotten married, had children of my own. Yet, sometimes it still feels like yesterday.

I can still remember clipping my thick bangs back so they’d be out of my face. I was trying to grow them out as bangs weren’t in anymore in 2000.

I can hear my mom tell my sister and I we were leaving for school in 10 minutes, so we’d better be ready by then.


In the fall of 2000, we’d just come back from the big vacation. It was the one my parents had saved and scrimped for years for — a week-long trip to Disney World.

I was in the 10th grade. My older sister was a senior and my little brother was in 2nd grade. As much as I loved the trip, I did wish my parents had done it a bit sooner, like when I loved Disney Princesses and wasn’t a goth kid hiding out as a preppie.


We had a lot of fun on that trip. My sister and I actually got along pretty great that week. I loved seeing my little brother with his favorite Disney characters. My parents even went 90 miles out of the way on the trip to Florida from New York, just so I could visit the place Dawson’s Creek was filmed.

It was a good time. Something we still talk about when we are together.

But, when we got back from that vacation, something changed. The wonderful mood that Disney had put me in was taken away and looking back now as an adult, I can see how utterly inappropriately the situation was handled.

RELATED: 5 Reasons You May Have Trust Issues And How To Get Over Them


I got a note from my 3rd-period French teacher, telling me I had to report to the Guidance Counselor’s office after the period.

I figured they were going to question me about missing a week of school, even though my mom had told them we’d be on vacation the week before Thanksgiving. As the bell rang, I gathered my huge backpack and walked down the hall toward the guidance office. The super old secretary took the note I gave her, and then the school guidance counselor opened his door and invited me to come in.

He was a skinny middle-aged man. I’d only seen him once before at the end of my freshman year to set up my sophomore-year schedule. I wasn’t one of those kids that was in and out of the counselor’s office. I was a good kid, I had a stable home life, and was overall a happy teenager. I spent even less time in the principal’s office.

I looked around his office and saw pictures of students from the past year, thank you cards, and college banners. He was a well-liked man in our district. I never really had a problem with him, but he wasn’t someone I felt particularly close with, as I did with some of my teachers.


He motioned for me to sit down in the chair across from him.

(I’m going to call him "Mr. A" for the purposes of this article.)

"Brittany, I’m sorry to have called you here under this kind of circumstance, but I was informed that you may be struggling with an issue, and since you’ve been on vacation, this is the first time I’ve been able to call you in," said Mr. A.

The wheels in my 15-year-old brain started going. I have always, always been a very self-aware person. Issue? What kind of issue?

"Ummm … what are you talking about?" I asked, feeling my face start to flush.

"Well … we’ve been told that you go into the bathroom during your lunch period and throw up every day," Mr. A said, quite awkwardly.


"Do you have bulimia?" he added.

I’m sure my jaw hit the floor of his tiny office.

If I could have guessed anything he might have asked me — bullying problems, boyfriend drama, school-sports pressure, literally anything else would have come before being accused of having an eating disorder I absolutely did not have.

"I do not!" I said, harsher than I intended.

"Are you sure? One of the lunch staff said you ask to go to the bathroom every day at lunch and she has caught you kneeling on the floor in the next stall over," he continued.

"Someone is spying on me!?" I just about yelled. I felt the tears form and knew this was going to be bad.

"That’s not the point! The point is … we want to help!" he said.


"I don’t need help! I do not have an eating disorder!" I said. "Call my mom! I want my mom!" I added, knowing I was over his interrogation.

I was crying now. He pushed a box of tissues toward me. Between whimpers, I mustered, "I go into the bathroom every day at lunch because it’s my only free period in my schedule. Sometimes I check my backpack to make sure I have all the books I need for the rest of the day because I have no time to go back to my locker after lunch."

Mr. A looked a mixture of puzzled, relieved, annoyed, and surprised. He excused himself and left the office for a moment. I wiped my eyes and thought about what to do.

He returned quickly and told me to gather my stuff. He whisked me away to the nurse’s office and set me up in a corner on one of the cots. He told me I could stay here as long as I wanted and he would go and try to call my parents to come pick me up.


RELATED: 6 Painfully True Facts About Eating Disorders No One Ever Told You

That was it. I was left in the nurse’s office for I don’t know how long.

The nurse came in to check on me and told me I could stay as long as I wanted to. I had no word of when my parents might be coming to get me, so I asked to use the phone myself.

I tried my mom first, but she was not available (her boss at the time was a jerk), I had no way to really reach my dad at work because he was a prison guard at a state penitentiary, so I called my grandmother. She came and got me and brought me home.

After my grandmother made sure I was okay, she gave me a hug and left for home.


My dad pulled in shortly after that. He was putting his keys and lunch stuff away when I came out of my bedroom. I told him what had happened at school, and he looked at me like I was crazy.

"He accused you of being bulimic?" he asked.

"Yes, like the kind where you put your finger in your mouth to induce vomiting," I said, making sure he knew what it was.

He kind of half-laughed, half-scowled. My dad has always worn his emotions close to his sleeve and was notoriously hard to read.

"Why didn’t they call me or Mom?" he asked.

"I don’t know … he was supposed to…" I replied.

"Pfft," Dad said, leaving to go down the long hallway to my parent's bedroom to change out of his uniform.


Mom came home shortly after that. She asked me why I tried calling from school. I told her what had happened. She never got a call from Mr. A either.

She was furious.

"Bulimic!?" she said.

"I just spent a week with you in a hotel room, I think I’d know if my daughter was bulimic," she added.

She laughed awkwardly. Unlike my dad, my mom was easy to read. She was mad, worried, and annoyed. She immediately went down to the school. I felt sort of felt sorry for them, but not really.

I went back to my room. I had to call my best friend and tell her all about what had happened.

As it turns out, my best friend had a similar experience with Mr. A.

A straight-A student, varsity athlete, and first sax in the school band, my best friend was as close to perfect as it came. Apparently, she was "too" perfect. A group of her teachers had expressed concern to Mr. A about her studying habits, her being underweight, and her lack of social life. I laughed because she had many friends, including me.


When I told my mom, she got even more upset. She told me that she had spoken with Mr. A. She was mad that they hadn’t tried talking to her and Dad first.

She did straight up ask me if I was bulimic, and I again said no. I told her about lunch being my only free period. I loved food, I wouldn’t throw it up. My mom knew this. She also knew, if I had a real problem, I would have gone to her. I knew I was lucky to have this in my parents.

RELATED: How To Let Go Of The Past & Overcome Trust Issues Caused By Emotional Trauma

I’m a mom now. I’ve dealt with school providers like Mr. A my whole life, even now as a mother. The difference is the day I was brought into the guidance office, changed who I was as a person.


I went from completely trusting teachers, doctors, and counselors to always having my guard up anytime I had to deal with them. Instead of helping me that day, Mr. A made me feel isolated, alienated, and like I had to defend myself. I had no adult representative with me. I had no one I trusted with me.

He didn’t speak with my parents first. Instead, he blindsided a 15-year-old girl, accusing her of a very serious eating disorder she honestly knew little about. I never trusted the school lunch lady that started the rumor again, either. In fact, I stopped going to the lunch room entirely and spent the lunch period in the school library.

Unlike Mr. A and the lunch lady, our school librarian was an adult I learned to trust. He let me eat my lunch in the library and get lost in my books instead. As a result, I didn’t get to spend my free period with my best friends, the only one I had with my two best friends that year. I refused to be around her. 

School staff are trusted to care for our children while we send them away to learn in their care.


They are our eyes and ears when we cannot be there. While we can only hope that most teachers, school staff, and administrators are only trying to look out for our kids, there are always a select few that think they know best.

While I know Mr. A thought he was trying to help me deal with a difficult situation, he handled it awfully.

The school lunch monitor could have also asked me why I went to the bathroom every day, instead of jumping to conclusions. My parents should have been with me when it was addressed. At the very least they could have asked my older sister, who was in school that day, to come be with me.

It was a terrible, terrible experience. I am nearly 40 years old and it still affects me.


It hurts my heart for the 15-year-old me and for any other students, like my best friend, that were attacked for the wrong reasons.

What about the girl that did have bulimia? Or the student whose home life was terrible? I can’t help but think they got lost in the cracks of the school system.

I hope anyone that works with children stops for a moment to ask for facts, get parental input, and remember that these moments affect our kids for the rest of their lives. 

For the rest of their lives. Let that sit.

Author’s note: I do not write this story to belittle, demean or shame anyone struggling with an eating disorder. I cannot imagine the pain and hardships of living with any sort of eating disorder. I hope that everyone that does, has someone looking out for them and that they get the treatment and support they need to get better. If you need help, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association.


RELATED: Recovering From An Eating Disorder In A Society That Praises Weight Loss

Britt LeBoeuf is a freelance writer and social media specialist from Upstate, N.Y. Her writing can be found on Scary Mommy, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and Medium. Her other works include: My Mommy's Not Happy Anymore: A Children's Book To Help Kids Understand Postpartum Depression and North Country Roots: Reflections and Imagery of Northern New York.