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Ms. Tipton is my old APUSH teacher. And has somehow managed to become one of my best friends. Now, I know that sounds bizarre and probably kind of silly, but it's true. From the start, she always knew when something was wrong with me. In February of 2017, my ex girlfriend of a year and half, had cheated on me and broken up with me. And this woman, who barely knew me at the time, was the only one who helped me.

Naturally, I wasn't being myself. No one else noticed or if they did, they didn't say anything. But when she saw me after school that day, she was the only one who asked me what was wrong. And when I explained it all to her, nearly crying in the process, she gave me the best advice and encouragement I had honestly ever received. Later that year, when I had other issues, she provided the same level of support, every time. 

Anyone who has met her can genuinely say she is also the kindest and sweetest person on Earth and her constant optimistic attitude has been, at times, the only thing that keeps me smiling. Throughout my senior year, I began to help her with whatever she wanted. She took on A LOT of projects at the school, and always seemed so stressed about all of them. I wanted to help the best I could, and I still do, because I don't want to see her unhappy. I send her a meme everyday now, just in case she's had a rough day. Because everyone, especially her, deserves to smile at least once everyday. 

She once told me I had a "kind nature" and she felt like she was taking advantage of me by asking me to help her out so much. But I never felt extorted or anything like that. I was just being myself. I like making other people happy. I do a lot of silly things to make other people smile. (Mr. Varela, my PreCal teacher, always seemed upset, too, so I left him math puns on sticky notes. I just like making other people smile. He saved all of them, and apparently showed them to other teachers. That actually brings tears to my eyes.)

On Halloween this past year, my family found out about what happened to me. Tipton didn't exactly know what had happened (yet) but was incredibly supportive. At the time, I felt like my entire world was unraveling in front of me, which sounds dramatic, but them knowing was, and still kind of is, one of my biggest fears. That night, I was more determined than ever to just end it. I didn't want to face them. But she forced me to promise her I would be at school the next day, and I could never break a promise to her. I don't know if she knows, but she's really the person that kept me alive that night. 

She always respected my boundaries more than anyone else. She's always been there for me more than anyone else, even when I have the stupidest of issues. She often tells me I just "wormed my way into her heart" and I'm happy to have done so. I don't understand how it happened, fully. But I'm glad it did. 

It was her birthday a few days ago and with me, it's always go big or go home with gifts. I'm broke as fuck, so I can't get extravagant gifts or anything like that. But I can give gifts that are thoughtful that will make a person cry. She told me a story once, that I won't repeat because it's personal, but I gave her gift related to it. And it made her cry. Which was my goal, honestly. Sounds mean, I know, but it wasn't necessarily malicious. 

My mother was an awful mother. She abandoned our family for drugs and never looked back. She goes to jail every few months and is just a constant heart breaking let down. When I was younger, I clung to my mother like we were attached at the damn hip. My father was loud and always at work, he scared me. I just wanted to be with my mother. But she left me, and I didn't understand. As a child, I created a version of my mother in my head of what she would be if she were normal and still an actual mother. I've never told Tipton this, but she's exactly that person. She's the exact person I wish my mother had been. She's kind, loving, funny, supportive, understanding...just everything I wish I had in a mother. 

 I've always believed that we form our own families throughout our lives, through the people we meet and keep in our lives. And I consider her family-- which might insult my actual family but I don't give a fuck. 

I've always had a very hard time properly expressing my emotions, but I just hope she understand how much I care about her. 



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