She Saw My Scars

She calls me in the middle of the night, for the first time in months. I’m sitting at my computer listening to music when my phone goes off. I pick it up, surprised, and say, “Hey, are you okay?”

“Hi. I just need to talk to you,” she tells me. “It’s been kind of bad the past few days.”

“Where are you?” I ask.

“Outside my house. There’s a community pool in my neighborhood. I go there when I need to think.”

“Okay,” I say. I make a mental note of that. “Well, what’s up?”

“So we went to a hot springs bath the other day,” she says. “And I cut, right, and my parents didn’t know, and I forgot to cover it up. And my mom saw my scars… she saw my scars and started blaming me. She started yelling at me saying how she doesn’t even put that much pressure on me to do good at school or anything but she does, she does, she just doesn’t realize it. She doesn’t realize she’s causing so many of my problems and she just blames it all on me.”

My throat tightens in anger and pain as I try to find a way to answer her. This, I find, is a common thread among many of us – people who don’t understand, who don’t listen, who blame us for our own problems without realizing that they’re the cause. And at this age, many of us are just stuck with these kinds of people. It’s worse when they’re your own family and you can’t do anything about it.

I start asking her about her plans for her future. I want to hear what she wants to do, where she wants to go. She can’t give me anything concrete – people who are suicidal usually don’t plan that far ahead. I stare at the wall of my room and tell her slowly, “I have an old friend who was in a similar position. We were talking one time, and he explained to me, ‘But I’m willing to burn bridges as I stand on them for a life I’d rather live.'”

I let that sink in for a moment. She says in a small voice, “That’s a good quote.”

I tell her, “Plan for a better life. It will hurt, but if your family relationships are toxic, that’s a bridge you should be willing to burn. Pursue your own life, your own happiness, because that’s more important in the end.”

We sit in silence for a little while. Finally I ask her, “Well, what do you want to do?”

She says, “I kind of want to go to Korea to teach English…”

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