Coping Mechanisms | Teen Ink

Coping Mechanisms

October 1, 2017
By bhuang BRONZE, Beltsville, Maryland
bhuang BRONZE, Beltsville, Maryland
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

The first week was agony.

Indulging in rehashes of his relationship with his former lover was a rather sardonic thing to do to himself. It gave him a temporary bliss, a false sense of respite from his grief, a way to bury his head further into the past. Every second he spent thinking about her was a torturous one, yet he found it inexplicably addictive. For hours, he'd do nothing but lie on his bed and stare at his gritty ceiling through bleary eyes until he swore he could see a constellation of her face.

He cried. She was so beautiful.

In the perpetual darkness of his room, his bed was the only thing he ever needed. Sometimes he tried to repress his misery by forcing himself to go to sleep, but she seeped into his unconscious thoughts. In fact, he probably reminisced more vividly when he was asleep. His dreams were haunted by things he'd never be able to experience again - hearing her shy laugh and gazing into her wide eyes, feeling her vanilla perfume on his leather jacket and her cherry lipgloss smudged across his neck and the fervor in her voice when she whispered declarations of her love under cool, white duvets.

By the end of the month, his pain had begun to develop into a bitter regret. He obsessed over whys and what ifs, teasing himself with the idea of a second chance until he had constructed an entirely theoretical relationship with her. The fantasies eroded his perception of reality. Where would we be if I had been more open with my affection...if I gave her all of my attention...if I didn't forget our anniversary? That damn anniversary. He imagined their hands interlocked, her head resting on his shoulder as they wandered the streets of a glowing metropolis. He imagined dining at expensive restaurants with her, sneaking out without paying the bill and then hiding away in some alley where she'd run her fingers through his hair and press her cool lips against his. She'd still be here. She'd still be mine. That Friday night. If I didn't let her drive that night.

His mother trivialized his affliction, muttering about how it's just young love and kids are so dramatic whenever she walked past her son's room and saw him brooding. But his mother didn't understand. His mother didn't know what he knew.  

She's dead.

She died in the chill of a midnight air, under the open roof of a grey car. She died because of him. She's dead. The words echoed within his head in a somewhat frantic repetition.


But it was difficult to imagine her six feet underground when she sat eight tables away from him in the lunchroom, when they shared three classes together, when anything and everything reminded him of what they used to have. He would have to be crazy to believe himself.

He wondered if she still thought about him. It was now a few days into the second month already, but time felt like a hazy lie. He found it hard to acknowledge just how many days of his life he had pawned off to abstraction. She had destroyed him. Had she really moved on that easily?  

She's dead, he reminded himself.

Her overbearing presence proved otherwise, and gradually stoked his grief into fatigue. His head was far too exhausted to host any more of his restless thinking. He began to feign illness so his mother would let him stay home, although it was fair to say that there hadn't been much feigning to do. Avoiding school was the only method he could come up with to cope with losing her. It made perfect sense to his damaged conscience; if he didn't have to see her, it would become easier to pretend that she was dead. And it was, of course, much less painful to get over someone who had passed away, than someone who had passed him up. His forced confabulations granted him a sense of guilt, which he'd wholly embrace over veritable rebuff. 

Yet the conscious effort he made to distract himself from reality was, in itself, a reminder of it. Funny how that worked.

Days would slog by inside his locked, empty house. His mother had let him stay home under the impression that he was running a mild fever, but as more time passed, he could sense her growing skepticism. At one indiscernible point in time, she told him he only had one more day of rest before she would have to either send him back to school or to the hospital.

They went to see a doctor the next day.

After a perfunctory introduction and a few minutes of scrutiny, the doctor affirmed that he did not have a fever.
Son, the doctor said in a gentle voice. I’m going to refer you to a psychotherapist. 

Psycho – Oh. No.

The alternate diagnosis swished inside his head, irony in texture, until it seared everything raw. Retrospection had never hurt so much.

Because, she used to breathe her tangled thoughts and emotions onto him. Because he used to let her, so that he could hear the sound of her oh-so-sweet voice, and not the insecure forewarnings she'd give about her lack of eloquence (coherence), and not the way her tongue tumbled into elastic around the subject, God, it's hard to explain. Sorry about that. Sorry about what, babe? Sorry about me. Her apology replayed within his head.

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