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Look for the Girl with the Broken Smile
Therapy is now my safe haven. The tacky beige walls decorated with multitudes of degrees in cheap frames, were outstretched arms call me into a warm embrace. The windows overlooking the small, blue pond glittering in the later afternoon sun is my escape place. I stare out into the water during our sessions when I am thinking of my response or avoiding an answer. Today avoiding the topic wasn’t going to work. Dr. Thomas had obviously set his goal on getting me to talk about it.
“Why do you keep bringing this up? For the last time, I don’t want to talk about it” I said. Suddenly the grey over stuffed couch had become uncomfortable, like sitting on pins and needles. I frantically searched the room for the small, black timer that was sitting on the side table next to Dr. Thomas, ten more minutes. The timer is mocking me. Because that little clock and I knew that Dr. Thomas was not going to let this go. He would bring it up and I would continue to shoot it down like a volleyball player spiking the ball on the other side of the net. I didn’t want to talk about it because I was still hoping it was a dream and I am just going to wake up one day and be able to shake it off. But that isn’t possible. That night happened and it was my entire fault.
**Standing up from tying my shoe, still out of breath I take a sip of water letting the cold liquid to trickle down my throat like a stream. I am exhausted and just need to catch my breath, being a beautiful summer night I had only a few more miles to go until I was home. The short cut through the forest preserve made my run a third of a mile shorter, but I didn’t get home any faster. As I make my way through the high grasses and bushes I hear footsteps behind me. At first I convince myself that it is a deer and nothing harmful, but the steps keep moving after me. Not changing direction. Just quickening their pace. My heart skipped beats in terror. I start running faster. The steps are catching up to me. Then a wrist grabbed me. A hard firm grip. No way out. **
I was trembling, tears forming in my eyes; I look out the window at the small pond. A pond where fish live
“Angie?” Dr. Thomas whispered trying not to startle me, as if I was a rabbit in the forest he was trying to catch with his bare hands. I clutch my hands together and press firmly down on my lap; my knuckles are turning white from the squeezing. “Why do you always avoid the question?”
“Because I am not ready to talk about it yet, and prying isn’t going to do either of us any good. Well maybe you some good, you will still get paid.”
“I’m not a therapist for the money, you know that” with that I scoffed was he joking? Who doesn’t do their job for the money? “Have you even told your parents or are you still saying we are working on anger management and where it’s coming from?” tears started streaming down my face, I was sure my mascara was smearing. I probably look like a raccoon. Great. I’m in therapy for what happened that night and all I am worried about is how I look. I should know by now my appearance won’t change anything. But I need it to.
“I…” I stop taking a deep breath before I finish my answer. “They won’t believe me. Why should I tell them when they are only going to hurt me more?” “You’re the doctor tell me how I can survive that!”
“What?! Stop treating me as some fragile puppy…” and with that the timer went off. I grabbed my bag, thanked Doctor Thomas for the session, and plastered a smile on my face. I was the poster child for acting little miss sunshine. No one but Dr. Thomas and my best friend Joanna knew the truth and I was planning on keeping it that way.
I weaved in and out of bland waiting room chair, step around small children playing with leggos on the floor, and smiled weakly at strangers who were no doubt waiting for their session to begin. I wonder if he pushes them to talk about what they don’t want to say. I had become a patient of Dr. Thomas’ after that night. Somehow convinced my parents that it was for my anger management problems, and though we did discuss why I am so angry, it all links back to that night. The night I couldn’t stay home. The night that ruined my night, my summer, my life, forever.
Let’s pause my story really quick. Now don’t worry, all will fold out soon enough whether I like it or not. But you need to know me first. You need to know the old Angie before you understand the damaged one. Basics? Alright, I am 18 years old, a senior in high school and probably one of the most genuine people you will meet. I don’t want to sound conceited because I am definitely far from that because I am not pretty or skinny enough to be conceited about my looks. That’s right I’m the friendly fat girl. Well, not really fat because I play a lot of sports so it’s mostly just muscle but, I am the sweet and friendly big girl. I am eternally friend zoned and friends with everybody. So why would someone want to ruin my life? How could someone do what they did to me, to anybody? The human race makes me sick. Like gouge my eyes out with a fork, sick. Aside from being the friendly fatass, I am also the most stubborn person I know. I was never one to seek out help. I was the one helping others. Now I see that I help others to push back my feelings and distract myself from my reality. But after that night, to think I was going to ask anyone to help me would be the farthest thought from my mind. Alright, time to press play. This story, much like my life needs to get a move on.
As I step out of the office into the bright afternoon sunlight, I realize that no one in that room cared about what Dr. Thomas and I discussed, just like no one out here in reality would either. I walk to my father’s car that had been patiently waiting for me to get out of my session. I could drive myself but not knowing what kind of emotional rollercoaster Dr. Thomas will put me on I thought it best that I have someone else drive me home,
“How was therapy?” my dad questioned as soon as I got to the open window of the suburban. I climb into the car fasten my seatbelt before replying.
“It was good, we are making progress each visit.” The calmness in my voice sounded eerie to me, as if it wasn’t me talking but someone else in my body.
“That’s good, slammer. Your mom and I are proud of you for taking your therapy seriously and actually trying to turn your life around.”
“Dad, I’m a teenage girl who hates her mother. That’s not that unusual…” one of my previous sessions I came out and said that the reason I was so mad was because of my overbearing, control freak of a mother. “It’s not like I am so meth or coke addict. Just another angry teen.”
I take out my phone; slide my thumb across the front of my phone to text Joanna about my session.
Me: Hey boss lady out of the shrinks.
Joanna: How was it? did you tlk about the incident?
Me: it’s hard 2 speak abt it…
Joanna: that is why you keep your journal. So you can write it all down and then hand it to him to look at.
Me: what? Hand him my most prized possession? And have him look over it like a teacher over an essay looking for mistakes? No thanks…
Joanna: but he knows... What’s the worst that could happen?
Me: he only knows because you emailed him as soon as you found out he was my therapist...
Joanna: it was for your own good!
I didn’t reply, how could I?
Great I wasn’t even looking at her and I was starting to form tears in my eyes. I can’t let my dad see, he will think I am weak. Come on Ange you’re almost home. The storm clouds were coming in.
Joanna: im just worried abt u..ur my best friend.
Me: thanks but I will talk abt it wen Im ready.
Home. Finally. Dad pulled the car into the driveway and within milliseconds of putting it into park I was out of the vehicle and flying past my mom and brother and running into my room. I threw myself onto the bed and cried. The storm was starting. I cried myself to sleep tonight. It wasn’t my first time, and I knew it would not be my last.
I started the next day as normal as possible. Ha. Me trying to be normal again. That doesn’t happen. But I try. I take a steamy hot shower to prepare for the day ahead. I do my make up just right, not too much, just a little mascara to brighten my blue eyes. I slide my teal shirt over my head and fidget with it until it sits just right. Find a black sweater and button that over to hide my stomach. Before I leave, I find my black sharpie and trace over the three letters that no one but I have seen every day on my stomach. FAT. A reminder of what I truly am. A reminder of what people have thought of me since the sixth grade. A reminder of what used to be normal.
I almost made it through the day. I was so close to getting through the day, just one more class. Then I could go home and be alone.
As I sat through history trying to stay awake. Being scared of the dark has come with the perks of not sleeping at night; but without sleep at night it just makes the days so much harder to get through. I laid my head on my desk and closed my eyes. It was supposed to be harmless. Who knew it would do more damage…
Standing in the forest preserve, it’s dark and there is a light breeze. I hear a scream that made my blood run cold, not because I was scared but because I knew that scream. It was mine. I turn around and I see my body lying on the ground unconscious. I am bruised, bleeding, and my clothes are torn off to the point where they would be better off without them. As I look over my body I see a cut on my forehead and blood trickles down, I want to wipe it off. I want to take the pain away. I want to –
“Ange wake up...” Jeff, a student who sits next to me gently nudges me. As I sit up I look at my desk and see a small puddle…my tears. I look around the room; everyone, the teacher and students are staring at me. Different expressions are across the room, curious, worried, confused, and uninterested. I was no longer invisible. I was humiliated.
“Ange?” My sister Jess placed her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. But I couldn’t let her. It was too much. I ran out of the room, I made it through the halls to the girl’s bathroom where I broke down. My back pressed against the wall as I slid to the ground. I openly wept not caring who saw or heard me. I needed someone to talk to, but whom? My own sister didn’t know! My parents didn’t know. Only Joanna and Dr. Thomas.
I heard footsteps coming into the bathroom, they belonged to my sister. She rushed over to my side and held me.
“Jess…” in between sobs “I…I was raped.”
The truth was out.
And I thought the hard part was over.