Friday, October 31, 2014

Walk a Mile

I have a favor to ask of each of you reading this... I'd like for you to take your time reading these words, and taking them in, and letting yourself into the character's shoes. When you're done, close your eyes and truly image yourself in his/her shoes...

Imagine you're a young teenager. You are awakened early, after another restless night's sleep. Your first thought is "blah... I don't want to go to school..." but is immediately followed by listening in the silence for your dad's voice. Is he throwing up again, as he's doing so many mornings? Is he in pain? Is he even awake? Is he alive? Please let him be alive!

You stumble down the stairs to check on him. Sometimes, upon hitting the bottom of the stairs, you remember he isn't even home - he's in the hospital again. Sometimes, he is home. But often, when he is home, he's either sick or in pain. And when he's sleeping, you stand by his bed checking to make sure he's breathing.

Finally accepting that he's ok, you get ready for school and head off. Like any teenager, you have a million other things on your mind. Did you finish your math homework? Why didn't your boyfriend/girlfriend text you this morning? Do I really have to go to phy ed today? But, unlike most teenagers, amidst those common but stressful worries, your thoughts also go to other things. Will Dad be ok? Can Mom handle helping him, and work? How's he going to get to his doctor appointment? What if the doctor finds something else wrong, and Dad's going to be in the hospital again?

You come home, knowing you need to help with the chores, and the siblings. And with taking care of your Dad. You can't go out with your friends because he needs someone to help him out. You don't want to go out a lot of times, because you're worried something will happen while you're away. 

You go to bed each night praying God make him well... praying God end his pain... praying God make your life easier, though you often feel guilty for this desire. Your sleep is broken up as he calls for someone to help him in the middle of the night... or because you are worried he will call for someone.

The stress becomes almost unbearable. Tears threaten to fall, even though you've tried so hard to keep them away. You've had to become so strong, and yet you constantly feel so weak. You try turning to a good friend... again. But, you've apparently turned to her so many times, she doesn't have time for you anymore. She'd rather hang out with the "fun" crowd. You try another, knowing you desperately need a shoulder to cry on, or at least an listening ear. But, he doesn't have time for you either.

You try to be understanding. Everyone has their own issues to deal with. You recognize this. And you know you've abused the friendships so much by always being in need. But, dammit, you need someone now. Again.

In selfish, needy anger, you lash out at those who abandon you.
Eventually, you cut yourself off from them all.
You learn to toss on masks - acting strange and psychotic and goofy. It's not for attention (or, not exactly). It's to hide from the pain that no one wants to hear about. It sometimes is also for someone to see you  and listen to you - they won't listen to the real you anymore. But, it's still a mask. The pain and stress and anger and frustration still lives within.....

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