Part One is called “Down The Rabbit Hole”
“Hey…Uhm, this is sort of an awkward question.” “Shoot.” – “Did your father really die?” “Yes, why?” “Because you seem so happy…”
People often think death is the catalyst for even the most introverted to break down and finally feel that it is OK to not be OK. The little girl in this story did not learn this lesson yet, struck in the summer of grade 5, she returned to school like all her peers and continued being happy because why shouldn’t she be, what is death? Death is going to a solemn ceremony where they paid respect to a cold carcass.
Death is cold. So people act like death is contagious. She touched him because he had been warm on the hospital bed while they manually pumped air into his lungs, but this time he was not her father, she did not know who her mother was softly caressing. For the longest time the little girl would look back in hindsight and regret most, not her bratty attitude while he had been alive, not even his absences during the most part of her life, but that she had irrevocably ran out of tears during his final service. Of the most dominant memory from that entire blur, had been the instinctive and almost desperate will to demand yourself to blast the water works right alongside your mother and sister. She had been faking.
It is OK that the little girl did not understand death. She went on with life.
She met a boy in grade 8, like any other freshman high school-er she was head over heels and walked on faerie dusts. 3 months it took for her to defeat every moral she might have taken had she even foresaw this event coming. She did sexual favors for him – felt like the most grown and sensual teenager out there, got dumped, and then threatened to be blackmailed. She moved. A fortune of coincidence, and convinced herself that she will remake herself, she will not have any sexual intercourse until the age of 18. In this smaller, secluded area, she met another boy, whom for the first time she thought she could describe as love.
But love for her had always been a damned thing and she left when his mother stormed upon her doorstep during the summer of grade 9 and insinuated in front of her entire family that she is a whore. As of now, she probably doesn’t blame her. The girl might even add that she bravos this woman for having the prescient sight, and only briefly hopes that they had been on better terms for the message to come across better. But it hadn’t. So after 9 months of separation, where she lost him, her best friend to him, and proceedingly all her fellow peers because, alas, she cried.
So she went under the knife. 2 months, back together – Sex; Unprotected, then ignored, and eventually dumped in front of his pastor. She thought ‘What a disgusting person I am.’
See, people had always historically viewed self-harm as almost the most emotionally imbalanced act where you are not quite sane and most of the time plagued as the depressed and literally almost always ostracized despite good intentions. The girl does not blame them; it is only human to not want to reside with someone who does not even put in the effort to converse. She is not fun to be around, she was the happy one. And when the smiles are gone, the party dies, and laughter suffocates, eyes are bleak and unaware of the world around them.
It was after the exhausting night. The fight remained inside the girl, she hated her. Hated that woman to openly offend her, proclaim to her entire family that she is undisciplined. Who is she, nothing but a scumbag aunt who owed her family sixty thousand dollars, with the nerve to even fuck things up now that he was gone. It was her birthday night. Inevitably, her mother asked her to sit at the small dining table. It was one in the morning. The girl obliged. But the woman who regarded her had not been what she had expected. It was definitely not pride, not humor, not anything else but exasperation.
And something inside the girl hit a core. Perhaps selfishly, she thought ‘How could you. How could you look at me that way and not even bother to defend me. You are my mom – you’re supposed to be there for me.’ She cried despite herself, and the woman told her one thing above all else that the girl will quietly harbor – “Do not cry; be strong. You have to be strong.”
Perhaps it was not so much the words said, but the tone embedded. She had been so tired. The little girl had hated her also. The skanky, provocatively clad woman who returned at 6 in the morning did not deserve the respect of her mother. She would come home, and she would sometimes be happy, sometimes very angry so the entire household shuddered and covered their mouths to shush their sobbing, but most of the time she disappeared from sight. Then she started attracting gentleman admirers. The girl despised her. She was betraying him. The woman had laughed at her – because the school counselors called home to report her suicidal thoughts.
Afterwards she had beaten her ‘Why can’t you be a normal kid? Why do you have to make so much trouble for me?’ But she was asked to take the girl to a professional; so of course, you go to a family clinic, where it is an elderly Chinese man who probably grew up with no such thing as sentiment. They laughed together ‘How dramatic, she’s just depressed because her father died.’ All the while the little girl was silenced by this eloquent woman. Had she not been the one to cry and whisper to his license, locked inside a room for the entirety of a week? Had she not been the one that frightened the girl to such an extent it became the greatest incentive for her to finally start crying at his funeral? And now she is boasting, almost, at how well she handled this situation and how poor her daughter is in contrast. The girl stopped trusting her. She also stopped trusting counselors.
She remembers crying on the phone to an old friend about the young boy during his 9 months absence. She kept saying she deserved it. Ah, so now she’s learned something about herself. Where did such a thought come from? Cuts, scrapes, maybe even cat scratches she could’ve passed the initial ones. It hurt. More than she had anticipated. But it was good because so. It scarred. And it repeated, like an addict, the dosage deeper each time. She is not insane, she is not mentally unstable. She executes with a lucid mind and clear eyes. And when her mother comes home she is at the computer doing work like any other day. She does not cry for herself. It will always, no matter what, stop with no reasoning but a habit to stop crying. It was apathetic. It is.
Suicide has always been a contemplative subject for her. But it will always remain so because, despite her hatred or depression during a period, she longs to succeed, she wants to prove herself. Most of all she desperately wants that woman to finally see her, and listen. That was the reason why the girl had been drawn towards school counselors’ right? A separated, quiet place where she is allowed to be weak, to cry and speak and be heard.
It’s funny because we spend most of our lives using our most common etiquette to apologize for unfortunate events that are not our fault. It’s this innate, built-in social marking that drives us to always reply with sorry at the news of someone’s death. Oh, I’m sorry. You hurt yourself? – Sorry. I’m crying? Damn, sorry. Even that silly little girl, glorified him upon all her school wide writes, as if that would hide her lack of memory of him – what a phony, but she is sorry all the same, for something beyond her control. Of course, that word does nothing to the receiver; they do not need your condolences, least the awkward apology. They are not damaged goods because they have death or self-harm somewhere in their history. They are sad, whether they’d like to admit it or not. They want someone to listen to them, even if they always felt or think and feel that they don’t trust anyone to open up in such a vulnerable state. Or better yet, feel they’ve rid themselves of all emotion and are above and beyond this mundane sharing. They sort of hate themselves too, even if they know logically that we should never beat ourselves up for past mistakes because at one point or another, it had been exactly what we wanted. They are not stupid. So don’t tiptoe – they have eyes too. They are also prideful, their ego bruised and mayhap a bit saddened that their family members are concerned about their less than enthusiastic state – and this is where ‘shit, I didn’t hide it well enough. Sorry’ appears again.
It is like circling a wild horse, trying to tame it. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone has the patience to carry out that task, just some things; some persons are worth it – to you. But above all, they are frightened, as the confused horse is. Frightened not only of you, but of themselves, they do not know what they want, or need, they kind of want you, and really don’t at the same time. They’ll fend you off, and all the while repeat to themselves that they are a bad person. They don’t want their stories to be digested the same way media gobbles tragedy, where the world has become desensitized. They are selfish as any other person. Therefore human, just as you, one of you – As you’ve guessed, I’m the little girl.
I’m still just a young girl, a tad sad, quite profoundly lost, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I’m looking for and I definitely do not have the expertise to advise you on what to do with someone who has experienced death or inflicted self-harm. But I’m OK, I’ll survive. If there’s one thing I can tell you – Laughter is contagious.