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Sitting there in my child psychologist’s office, staring at all the things on her book-shelf that are meant to distract you from the fact that you are in the office of a child psychologist, I wonder if I’m ever going to get better. My parents have left the room so that I can answer all of my doctor’s questions more freely. That won’t help; in fact it will only make it easier to lie. I know why I’m here, even if it’s not the right reason. My parents want me tested for Attention Deficit Disorder because my grades are slipping. I also know why my grades are slipping. It could be the A.D.D., or it could be “Him”, or it may just be a combination of the two. My doctor enters the room. She smiles at me, shaking my hand and introducing herself as Doctor Miller. I immediately don’t trust her. It’s no fault of her own; after all being nice is part of her job. I realize that we are still shaking hands and I force myself to make eye contact, “Hi I’m chuck” I say but wishing I could really introduce her to Him instead. My eyes return to the fish and seaweed design on her tiny little couch. I stare at the pattern, quite content to lose myself in the blue-green swirls until I realize that she asked me a question some time ago. I look up. She is waiting there politely for a response. “No” I say automatically. She gives me the strangest look, “You don’t want to tell me your how old you are?” she says in a pleasant tone.
“No,” I think. “I’m eleven.” I say. The interrogation goes on for quite some time. The doctor becomes nicer and nicer, and my mistrust keeps growing. For the whole hour and a half we talked, only one question really stands out. It was the kind that she was required to ask me before she started any kind of psychological evaluation. It was, “have you ever had thoughts of suicide?”
And I lied.
I’m on the bus going back to dodge after winter break and like most kids I am writing my name on the window in the condensation. I’m finishing the “U” when a paper ball flies into my seat bouncing off my wrist. I open it up, and inside is the day’s newest fat joke in a typical ten year-old’s hand writing. I stop drawing my name, and my smile from the Christmas memories fades as the wound bleeds. In gym we played kickball, I never got on base, but I did get on the unwritten “pick him last” list. In math, I got laughed at for not knowing the answer. In world history, I got laughed at for knowing it too quickly. At lunch I got pointed at and whispered about for sitting alone after I had been rejected by every table, then they put their collective genius together and came up with a hilarious new joke because apparently the way I ate wasn’t good enough for them. On the way home a paper ball bounced into my seat.
On the first day I cried to my parents. I told them what had happened thinking that they would help. They called the school and told them what was happening, they gave me advice, the typical, “Ignore them they just want attention” speech.
They said,”They’re just meanies” what an understatement!
They told me, “they don’t know any better” could there be a greater lie? But that was all they could do.
The next day my dad drove me in. I was feeling a little more confident today and yesterday’s pains had started to heal. That day I ignored them, but they outmanned me. Feeding off each others’ attention, they kept right on rolling, having a grand old time. That day I went home and brooded, my wounds torn open again. I said nothing to my parents, they could not help anymore.
That’s when “He” was conceived. “He” is my Hate. I open my front door after the first month of school is over, and go straight to my room. By this point I had begun to use Him to fill the painful scar in my chest and it felt quite good. I am dependent on Him like an addict and the more I use him, the stronger my addiction grows. I used to be able to go home and forget. I would play outside, or surf the internet, or even do my homework, anything if only to forget. When I forgot He would recede into the back of my mind. He wouldn’t go away completely, only fade to gray. Once he was out of sight I was able to heal, if only a little, before I went back to hell. However now He is bright red, Glowing like freshly branded flesh, protruding into my thoughts like a festering wound. I can no longer ignore Him. I see Him and He reminds me of my anger, and of my most recent torments. I become angry again and he feeds off of it, growing stronger as if through some perverse photosynthesis. After only a month I no longer needed my tormentors nearby in order to be tormented.
I went through two years of hell, living like a recluse, and feeling like an atom bomb. During those two years He became my focus, He blotted out my emotions like an eclipse, and He stole my last safe haven from me; my own mind. I was such a pitiful creature. I hated my hate. I wanted him gone and yet he could never leave because I wanted him to. Stuck in a paradox, I was terrified by my own creation. Dometime in that hell my psychologist asked me, “Have you ever had thoughts of suicide?”
And I told her, “No”
Over the summer I became bitter enemies with my constant companion. He was with me wherever I went and I knew I couldn’t shake him off. However things did improve. I had recently contorted and conformed my way into a group of pseudo-friends, people who I surrounded myself with and lied to so that they wouldn’t treat me like He, or my tormentors did. And it had worked beautifully. The people who had served as a catalyst to my disease almost completely stopped inventing new ways to get to me now that I was harder to see amongst the herd.
So the seventh grade rolled around faster than I could have expected, and I boarded the bus and got to the school without incident, which in and of itself is an accomplishment. I’m sitting in language arts, finishing my homework for that night when the bell rings for lunch. I think to myself, “Great, now comes the hardest part.” In the past I quickly decided that lunch was my least favorite part of the day, because even though everyone has to eat to survive, singling out the fat kid eating seemed to be funnier than singling out someone else doing the same thing, and eating from the same menu. I walk down the hallway to my most hated place, and, noticing no one from my little band of protection, I sit down at the table farthest away from my most hated group.
A couple of things happened that day that, in hindsight, could only have been god sent. For the first time in ages my mother had done the math wrong on my lunch money and I ended up with an extra dollar, I soon realized this and immediately went to the vending machine. The vending machine for chips happened to be broken that day, and so I bought strawberry milk along with my chocolate milk. I then went back to my previously mentioned table only to find that someone else’s group had occupied it. So I was forced to sit with another kid who, just like me, was out of luck in the lunchroom friends department. We were both content to ignore each others existence until I got the urge to experiment. I began mixing the two milks I had bought together, and when my table partner noticed this he promptly bought strawberry milk and did the same. I tasted it, “this is horrible!” I said as I looked up at the other kid, who double over gagging and laughing, “I couldn’t agree more” He said. Lunch ended and I went back to class, for the first time in ages, actually smiling.
The day after that I sat at the same table again and we talked about video games. The next day, it was music, after that, girls, and so on and so forth. Until on a Tuesday morning one of the demons from my personal hell decided to come over to us. “Hey Chunk, I didn’t know you had a boyfriend.” He sneered and then promptly walked away. My monster reared his ugly head, finally able to feast on the twisted emotions, and dark fantasies that had been so long denied to it. My face was a mask of murderous rage; until I noticed that my friend had simply kept eating, as if nothing had happened. He saw me staring at him. “What?” he asked.
“Didn’t that make you angry?” I replied
He countered with simple, brilliant, logic. He said, “Well if someone of any significance to me had said it, then yes it would have.”
I could not deny his thinking. “They aren’t significant in my life.” Those six words became my mantra. My savior and I became inseparable. We knew each other’s life stories forward and backward. I discovered that he had been tortured by the same group as me, but hadn’t suffered as much because he had something that I hadn’t: true friends, people who you don’t have to lie to, or conform with. True friends are people who are empathetic to your emotions, not just a herd of faceless herbivores to protect you from a ruthless predator. He later introduced me to his friends and they built me into their friendship more firmly than my beast attached itself to me. The scars from my ordeal are still visible and they will always hurt; but the gluttonous abomination itself has died of starvation.