When you try and kill yourself, you can’t talk about it. You can joke about it and watch movies about it, but you yourself can never quite face it head-on. At least that’s what I’ve discovered.
Unfortunately my therapist hasn’t seemed to discover this yet. This is our third session this week.
I look at her and she looks at me, asking me the classic question, “Why are you here?”
I wipe my golden-brown hair out of my face, then say, “Because I’m still seventeen and that means my mom can make me come here.”
I lay back in my chair; it’s one with a cushion. I cross my left leg over my right so that it’s barely touching the desk that separates me from my therapist, Mrs. Glenn. I like to get comfortable in places like this. It makes me feel in control.
“Why are you really here?” Mrs. Glenn repeats, frustration in her voice, “Cayden, you have to be more serious about this. I want to help you, but I can’t help you if you don’t want to be helped. You have to talk to someone.”
“And I do,” I say, “I talk all the time. My sister thinks I talk too much. She loves my rants though. Seriously. I can’t shut up during an episode of The Bachelor. No one can get me to shut up during an episode of Bachelor in Paradise.”
I’m watching the rain outside. I can hear it pounding against the roof. I look on Mrs. Glenn’s desk and on her walls, looking at all her photos she has of her son and daughter who recently both graduated from college. It’s only when I look away from the camping photos and inspiring messages on her walls that I notice how many wrinkles she has; one of her camping photos is of her son on a boat in the middle of a lake holding up a bass he caught, and she also has a collection of inspiring messages like “stay strong.”
Plus the window is open so I can see her grey curls sticking out on the nape of her neck. I also notice her glasses are slipping down her nose and she’s wearing a sweater her daughter knitted for her; her daughter’s name, Susan, is knitted on the center of it in blue so it doesn’t blend in with the sweater’s natural white color.
I notice her coffee on the edge of her desk that smells like cream and cherries. The steam coming from it always fogs up her glasses, but she’s used to it.
I notice a lot of things when I’m in Mrs. Glenn’s office. I do it on purpose. I like to distract myself. I like to think I’m pretty good at it.
Mrs. Glenn waits for my attention. Now that her coffee isn’t as warm, she takes a sip of it with her tongue. “I mean how do you feel? Is there anything going on at home?” she asks.
“Well it’s like January right now,” I tell her, “So The Bachelor is on. It’s in the middle of the season and there’s like all these catfights. This one girl meant to throw her champagne on this one girl she didn’t like and accidentally spilled it all over her best friend’s dress. Oh my god, it was hilarious. Let’s just say the girls are more like frenemies now. But I personally don’t think either of them is going to win anyway. I’m still waiting for the season where the girl in the costume wins. There’s always a girl in a costume. This season it’s a dolphin. Sunday is the next episode and-”
“I mean how are you feeling, Cayden? I want to know about you.” I can tell this is the first time Mrs. Glenn has ever had to cut somebody off. I can’t tell if she feels guilty about it or not.
“You asked me how I feel,” I joke, “So I told you how I feel about The Bachelor. You want me to talk? I can list all the contestants in every season.”
Mrs. Glenn is calm. She has to be. I feel like I’ve won though when I get her to smile. “My daughter loves that show too, although it usually depends on who gets picked to be the Bachelor.”
“My favorite Bachelor was Sean Lowe,” I reply, uncrossing my legs, “He was the cutest. And the nicest.”
“My daughter was a fan of Ben Higgins.”
“She doesn’t have horrible tastes. Maybe she and I could get together for the finale.”
Mrs. Glenn gets serious again. She gets out the clipboard, and my fingers get tense. My feet start tapping and I can’t distract myself.
“I’m sure I can make some arrangements for a Bachelor party. Maybe my daughter will finally admit to me that I’m a cool mom.”
I can feel my fingers again. I laugh.
“You have to promise me something first,” Mrs. Glenn continues, taking a larger sip of her coffee. “Cayden, you’re fun to talk to. Focus on that more. Focus on The Bachelor. It makes you happy, and sometimes that’s enough.”
“I sense a but coming,” I say, sitting up straighter.
“But you can’t be happy all the time. You can’t not feel anything. You need to be sad and talk about hard things. That’s what I’m here for.”
“I know, and I promise I will be more serious, but I like to talk about things that aren’t so serious. Like yesterday. I ran into a pole. Now that was pretty funny.”
I look at the watch on my wrist and get up.
Mrs. Glenn puts down her clipboard and stands up with me. She’s remarkably shorter than me. “Let me ask you something before you leave. I know you’re funny. It’s why your mom was so confused when she found out what you did to yourself. But when you get home after this and you’re all alone, what are you going to do? Are you going to think about The Bachelor like right now? If you are, fine, I’ll let you go.”
I hesitate. I don’t give her an answer out loud, but as I leave, I answer it in my head.
When I get home, I’ll do whatever my mind wants me to. I’ll think about whatever my mind wants me to think about.
Fingers crossed tonight my mind will let me think about The Bachelor.