“What did you say to your therapist? Why would she say that? What, does she think we abuse you?” Mom’s voice was slowly rising. I half expected blood to squirt out of her bottom lip and the veins in her eyeballs to explode. The lump of guilt rose to my throat. “I think she must have misunderstood when I said I had emotionally abused myself and felt like I had to be a mom growing up.” I’m not accusing you of anything, please believe me.
I fought the urge to cry, restraining myself from throwing my arms around Charlie and begging him to hold me forever.
Mom looked at me steadily, but a nurse interrupted just then (just before I was ready to drop to my knees in tears at Mom’s feet). I was prompted into a wheelchair that would take me to who-knows-where. I fought the urge to cry, restraining myself from throwing my arms around Charlie and begging him to hold me forever. But if Charlie was worried about me in the slightest, he gave no indication. I was the unstable whacko girlfriend checking into the looney bin. So I held myself back and sucked in my tears. As I settled into the chair, the drunken bloke was also about to be wheeled off to a room in the opposite direction. He flashed a surprisingly white grin (for a drunk, he has quite lovely teeth) at me. “It’s all gonna be okay, ya hear me,” he said softly. “‘Cause you got family and people that love ya, feel me? I just gots myself. But you’re gonna be alright.”
I never saw that man again.
Mom and Charlie walked alongside me until we reached the ward. They each gave me a hug goodnight. I looked to Charlie for some heartwarming, loving gesture that was never given. Tears blurred my vision as I watched them disappear behind the locked, glass sliding doors.
A daunting silence, full of sadness and foreshadowing regrets, loomed at the end of the hall, where my room awaited.
A young male technician—dark hair, quiet demeanor, most likely a weekend drinker—gave me some scrubs and briefly explained the schedule for tomorrow. Breakfast at 8:00 a.m., group activities at 10:00 a.m., lunch at 12:00 p.m., open gym time at 4:00 p.m. He left me alone with no light, no extra blankets (it was quite cold), no clock. How the fuck am I supposed to go to any of these things if I don’t know what time it is?
Funny, they would keep the room void of anything with which I could harm myself yet they left me with the most harmful thing that brought me there in the first place…
Why didn’t I reach out to anyone for help? Why didn’t I allow myself to do anything I wanted? I trusted the wrong f**king people. I’m an idiot. Everyone hated me, and all along I thought I was doing the right thing. I’m a f**king f**khead with no friends, no good memories, and it’s all my f**king fault.
Nurses and techs came in every hour (or so it felt—there was no clock) to check my vitals throughout the night. The hall light remained brightly on, and each time I attempted to close my door just enough to darken the room, it wasn’t long before a tech tapped it open to make sure I was alive. A gap wider than the last was left each time, ensuring that sleep was not welcome here.
Everything from the night before, the last few months, all my regrets—what I had nearly done that brought me to this awful place—came flooding in as the morning drowsiness wore off.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of a man speaking soulfully to another patient. “See, God is good, brother. I be where you at a year ago, and it feel bad now, but this is as bad as it gets. Can only get better from here. I was in a very bad place, a sad place when I came here last year. But I worked through my hard stuff, and God is good. I couldn’t be happier, man. So you get through it. God bless you, brother.” I sat up in bed and looked around the room. Everything from the night before, the last few months, all my regrets—what I had nearly done that brought me to this awful place—came flooding in as the morning drowsiness wore off. My breathing sped up and the tears poured out uncontrollably. I felt like a pathetic child that just wanted to be held. I would do anything to be held and comforted. It occurred to me that I had felt this way most of my life.
“Miss Anna? Hi, miss, sorry to bother you.” The man I had heard speaking—a janitor, from the looks of it; he had a mop—knocked on my open door. He was a tall, slender black man with long dreadlocks; he wore a red bandana. He pulled behind him a janitor’s cart and was holding a fresh garbage bag, to replace my current one, which currently only held snotty tissues. “I just be a minute,” he assured.I nodded, swallowing my sobs. He looked at me with gentle eyes and asked, “You alright, miss? Now, now, it’ll be alright, miss. Everything will be okay, you’ll see. Is there something I can do, miss?” I again swallowed the large lump that kept forming in my throat. “I want my mom,” I blubbered. “I want to go home, I don’t want to be here.” I yearned for someone I loved to peer in the doorway and run to my side, wrapping their arms tightly around me, no questions asked.
“I understand that miss,” the man said kindly. “You know, oftentimes these things happen to us and we don’t know why. Most likely we experienced death at some time when we be kids.” I stared at him, mesmerized by this man’s passion and posture; he swayed as he spoke, arms moving as if to rap lyrics. “When it comes to grieving, ya see, no one remembers the little people. The little people don’t know they’re allowed to grieve, ya see. No one tells them they can. So the little people, they just watch as all the grownups grieve and get their emotions heard. Then the grieving hits us later on, ya see.” He leaned forward and looked into my eyes intently. “I don’t pretend to know things, no ma’am. But I know what it’s like to be real low. I know it don’t feel like it now, but you got loved ones, so you’ll be alright, miss.” He finished changing my bin and gathered his cart together. “Let me know if you need anything, Miss Anna. I’ll be around. God bless, miss.”
I never saw that man again.