Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

110,000 Reasons to Live

My hand combs through my hair, over and over, roughly yanking the silky strands. I have been trying to kick this habit for years now, and yet no matter if I twirl, yank, or braid, subconsciously my hands are always in the red-auburn mass. It disgusts me to see how much I pull out, I have never needed a stylist to thin it. I have a theory that it has something to do with the habits of primates to groom each other. They are rambunctious and full of motion, so to get a monkey to be calm for that long, grooming must be connected to a pleasure center in their brain. For monkeys it means an ADD lemur somewhere will be able to sit still long enough to be considerably less itchy tomorrow, but for me it means I have a habit that kills my painstakingly washed, conditioned, and cared for hair. It calms me though, and at least it's not drugs.
Drugs are a topic I have been rather fond of lately. It's another escape route, but a nearly impossible goal. I know kids at my school who deal, but I don't know how to contact them, how I would pay, or even what's safe. The last is the obstacle I care about the least though. Alcohol would be simpler, but honestly- I want to get better, and deep down I know neither are really going to fix anything. I have enough toxic things in my life without adding cocaine.
It's kind of funny. A year ago I wouldn't have even contemplated any of this. Back then Collin was just a hot boy I'd never get the courage up to talk to. Amy was just a washed out girl I heard rumors about. And Jessica and Alia were just my gossipy and rich-b**** best friends. I was self-righteous, the nice girl who always did the right thing. Admittedly, I, even then, had an odd disregard for rules, but my moral compass was unwavering as to good and evil. I would never consider drugs, and I would never, ever, be in a clique.
Cliques on TV are always from the point of view of the mousy, sweet, brunette darling that is excluded from them. On TV, there's always a single, obvious, hot-blond leader. And her lackeys are always incompetent and sycophantic morons. That's why I didn't see it for so long.
We didn't have a leader. Or maybe, just for a while, I was the leader. I can't tell. I know I'm not any more. We started from Jessica and Alia getting in a fight. Alia was my better friend of the two, and Jessica took pleasure in teasing others. I did not admit she was a bully until I was the subject. She basically blamed me for ruining her friendship with Alia, for butting my head into a twelve year abusive relationship and getting Alia out.I had to hide from her and avoid anyone whom she had spoken too. I didn't have every class with Alia, and because I was afraid of being alone, I started talking to a girl I didn't really know.
Amy was the school whore, or at least she was rumored to be. Even with her as a friend I had to acknowledge that the girl could not keep her tongue to herself. She was an outcast of all social circles and even the boys that used her wouldn't admit to knowing her. But she was nice, and I was never an awful person, so we became friends. Jessica still tormented me, but she and Alia were friends again, so she had to play subtle. And I had had my freak phone call to Collin meant to be to someone else but that he picked up and listened to, so we were talking now. He was my outlet, and I convinced myself that I would be okay in this group.
We were all bitches, though I can honestly say that I was much nicer than the others because I'd been bullied once already by Jessica and I knew what it was like. We made each other self-conscious to a level of self-hate I did not know was possible, but I bottled my hurt because we were finally becoming sort of popular.
Collin's friends paid attention to mine because he paid attention to me. People started considering all of us as cool. Alia started throwing parties, and we climbed even higher in the social ranks. So I stuck with them and became embroiled in their romances and heartbreak until I became as involved with theirs almost as much I was with my own. Any time I saw them I needed updates on them, and them on me. Even as we went to get water together, broke into groups of two to talk to other people, and reached a state of codependency that was almost a bizarre extreme, I didn't notice. That is, until I was politely told to wake the f*** up.
I didn't even realize the sadness because of Collin. I thought that because I talked to him every night, I must be letting it out. I convinced myself of this so fully that I shoved the pain down and denied it's existence. It didn't make sense to be sadder after talking to him, so it couldn't be true.
I yank my hand into my lap, holding it there, consciously making an effort to stop combing my hair. I look at the strands twisted into my fingers. Someone told me once that people have about 100,000 strands of hair on their head, and i wonder how many I have left.
Now that I've admitted to myself that I tried to kill myself, that my life wasn't healthy, it's odd looking back at the fun, harmless times I had with them, the sleep overs and parties and sisterhood pacts. It's also hard to think about all I felt for Collin, all he felt for me. I know that wanting him, the sick, obsessive love fueled by knowing he liked me, even a little, knowing he needed me too, hurt me just as much as my radioactive group. Knowing he was with his girlfriend, and finally realizing that he would never leave her, was the last nail in an intricately carved and hidden coffin I built unknowingly in my heart. But with him too I can't help but remember the sweet, confiding, perfect times. He was the only person I've ever had truly get me.
My head hurts now from the ripping, but I can't stop. Suicide is no longer an option, because I have a note from myself that the therapist made me write by my bed saying why I told her about my attempt, why I saved myself, why it would be selfish to die. Dr. Billingham made me sit with my parents and watch my mother's face as she told me how she would feel if I died. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I have teen suicide numbers by my bed where People magazine used to sit.
It was hard, but I’m making a break with my friends. I’m talking to Collin about what we should do. He was my best friend, but I can’t keep hurting, so we’ll figure out what I need to do. I know he’ll respect me, and I love and hate that he is on my level of empathetic maturity. He’s the only one I know. I guess I wrote this because it all happened so fast. Every step took strength I couldn’t imagine I had, from confessing that I tried to kill myself to sitting alone at lunch instead of at the clique’s table, and dealing with their hate. And it’s not even close to over.

But I know I’m not the only one. I know someone else with a less supportive therapist and family is out there dealing with worse. And I guess I want you to know from someone who isn’t a smiling school councilor in a pantsuit that it sure as hell isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. That people telling me that I need to appreciate the little things, that I need to think about the long run, that I was great and everyone loved me, they might as well have been tying my hands behind my back to get me to stop touching my hair, which wouldn’t fix anything for more than five minutes. I know the minute they stopped watching me my hands would start weaving the silk. It took hearing the same thing about my toxic friends from three different doctors, being kept from school because I was not mentally stable, and finally watching my parents break down into sobbing wrecks because of me, to realize that I was being a selfish b****.
I’m not living for me yet, but I’m working toward that and for now it’s enough that I’m living for them. I got lucky. I called a doctor in time to save myself, I thought twice soon enough to go through the pain that convinced me that I’d be hurting others too much. But you might not. So I’m here to tell you you’re a selfish b****. It’s true, admit it. Killing yourself is lazy and selfish. And it hurts like hell and it sure isn’t easy to admit to yourself. I hope you forgive me someday, when you have kids, and a spouse, and we’re both better. But the school councilor isn’t going to wake you up, so I guess I have to try. I know you’re not going to listen. But maybe, just maybe, if I tell you just one more time to stop touching your hair...




Join the Discussion


This article has 1 comment. Post your own!

Honeysuckle10 said...
Nov. 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm:
good job ... I like it
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback