Most days, I fool myself into believing that I’m above the emotion of it all. Most days, I walk around feeling that I’m psychologically invulnerable. Most days, I repress the horrific stuff that I see.
Some days, I can’t.
Some days, the façade cracks off, and I sit here, alone, not knowing how to deal with it. Some days, I get a glance at how miserable and horrible and motherfucking cruel life can be, and it corrodes my heart.
Earlier today, I sat next to a teenaged girl, a pretty girl, a bright girl. You’d look at her, and you’d envy the life she has in front of her. You’d envy what she’ll accomplish. You’d look at her, and you’d fall prey to the illusion of her feigned happiness.
You’d look at her, and you’d have not a fucking clue that, a few days ago, she ate two bottles of pills, hoping that it would crush the life you think you envy.
She’d have eaten more, if she’d had more, but she didn’t. Still, she figured it would be enough. In that moment, the culmination of years of depression and adolescent angst and teenaged cruelty and parental indifference, she figured it would be enough. But it wasn’t.
She woke up the next morning, and it wasn’t enough. And she was surprised. And she was angry.
She was angry, angry because she woke up. Angry, because the pills hadn’t killed her. Angry, because she was still here, a miserable fucking failure. And she felt that way today, as I sat there, three feet away, expressionless.
Because I’m the professional.
Because I have to keep it together when everyone else is falling apart.
And I do. Because I’m professional. And because I can. But goddamn it, some days, this shit destroys me.
I just kept thinking about how broken she was. She sat there, expressionless, both of us expressionless, and told me about how her life had imploded. It hadn’t, really, not from a literal perspective, but really, her perception is the only reality that matters.
Her reality is the only one that mattered, when she ate those pills, and woke up, angry to be alive.
She sat there, calmly, and talked to me about the rumors at school. The unfounded rumors, being known as a whore, as a druggy, as a drunk. She’s never touched a drop of alcohol. She’s never been around drugs. She’s never been sexually active. But who gives a fuck? The kids in her school don’t. That’s what they hear, and that’s what they think, so that’s what they tell her. Because, to her, their perception is the reality. Their perception is the only reality that matters.
And because she lives in a small town, a hick town, a town where some little adolescent cunt can spread rumors about an innocent girl and make the whole school think those rumors are true, she has no hope. She has no future. She has no escape.
Her life is broken. And I saw that, I saw that, carved into her face, as she sat there, expressionless, and talked to me about how badly she wanted to be dead.
Of course, because I’m the professional, I get to be the strong one. Because I can hold it together in the face of absolute and complete misery, I get to be the one to share the news. Because I can sit there, expressionless, I get to be the one to share the news.
I get to be the one to tell the mother of a 15 year old girl, and my daughter will be 15 much quicker than I’ll be able to prevent, I get to be the one to tell the mother of a 15 year old girl that her daughter, with all of her hopes and dreams and desires, wants nothing more than to be dead.
And I sat there, expressionless, and watched as my words sucked the life out of a mother. I watched a mother, who’d previously thought herself a strong woman, stunned. I watched a woman, a mother, destroyed, in front of my eyes. And, because I’m the professional, I’m the one that needed to destroy her. It wasn’t me, really, but for this mother, it was. And, for this mother, her perception is the only reality that matters.
Motherfuck me, I wish I was just writing this as some dramatic exercise. I wish I didn’t see what I saw today, what I see every day. I wish I didn’t have the fear, the soul crushing terror, that my daughter, my beautiful, amazing daughter, might someday have to face this. I wish I didn’t have the fear that my daughter, who has the entire universe at her fingertips, might someday think that her only solution lies in as many pills as she can cram down her throat.
I wish I didn’t fear being that parent, having my heart shredded as someone sits across from me, expressionless, telling me that my daughter wants to be dead. I wish I didn’t have the realization that life is cruel, and that control is a farce, and that after all of our efforts, all we can do is roll the dice and hope for the best.
I wish I didn’t, but I do. And tomorrow, I’ll go to work. At some point, I’ll sit there, expressionless, and keep my shit together, because I have to, and because I can. Please, for fuck’s sake, do not take any of this as a joke. Please, don’t take the time you have with your kids for granted.