I’ve always wondered how she copes.
I see her every week day at work, tired and emotionally strained. It is almost as if she feels everything. She’s only thirty years old but going on eighty.
I knew a girl like her once in high school. Always fighting some sort of battle. Her inward struggles always managed an outward manifestation. She was angry, tired, sad, sometimes happy, joyful, and even occasionally relaxed. Whichever emotion possessed her at the time she never did a good job of hiding it. I found it annoying and exhausting, her ping-pong of emotions, but also in a strange way I admired it. It was unfamiliar to someone as unemotional as myself, or maybe I should say calloused.
The high school girl had a coping mechanism. I noticed one day in the locker room before gym class. Thin precise cuts in rows of three down her legs, stopping shortly before the hem of her shorts. They were all in various stages of healing, some fresh and some already scarred. I stared a little too long and she noticed my lingering. She shot me a “mind your own business” sort of glare and so I did. I was too scared and thought I was too cool to care about someone like her.
Today I wish I would have said something, at least tried to make a difference.
I admit that I’ve often recalled this girl to mind when interacting with my coworker. It’s empowering knowing that there are no should’ve, would’ve , could haves yet. I’ve done my best to build a semi-functional relationship in our 9-5 lives. I’ve asked loads of questions trying to uncover her coping. I know she isn’t a cutter like the girl I knew before. Once she told me she liked to get drunk and hook up with random guys but I could tell it was a lie.
Then one day I started talking about this. The silly blog that I use to write about random little stories. I could tell right away that it resonated with her on a new level that I hadn’t experienced before. Soon we were talking about her manuscript, the book she has started writing just for fun. I immediately offered to read it. She hesitated but eventually agreed.
I “proofread” it for her cover to cover last night. It was brilliant and enthralling. I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t the content that knocked me off my feet but the characters. She wrote herself into fiction, and for the first time I had a real glimpse into what she FEELS. She copes by lacing all her insecurities and shortcomings and feelings into a beautiful plot line. The story is far from finished and I can hardly wait for the finale. Sure, it is just fiction, but from my vantage point there isn’t much that I have seen that is truer than fiction.