I lied. I looked her straight in the eyes and swore that I had thrown it away already. I lied. There was no suicide note that she would find as she rummaged through our trash bins at the edge of the road. There was no suicide note to find because there was no plan, no letter, and no fatal means hidden beneath my pillow. I lied.
And yet, I thought it was a worthwhile lie. After all, she came. This therapist who I perched on a pedestal and crowned my savior had shown up at my home late at night on a mission to save my life. She came on the ruse of the crisis, but she still came. This woman whose attention I craved and love I pined for was sitting in my bedroom. She acing my test, as I continued to place hoops for her to jump through, needing her to prove her loyalty, prove her care, prove that I was more than just another sick patient, depressed and hungry, aching for attention.
I competed with my friends, her fellow clients, as we vied for ‘the sickest’ obviously equated with ‘most special’, ‘favorite’, ‘most in need of time and comfort’. Right off the bat I was at a disadvantage: married parents who loved and provided for me, a tight-knit family, and no bruises or history of nightmarish trauma. I knew I had it good, and yet, I couldn’t figure out why I was so miserable, so desperate for care, and endlessly needy for more. So I stepped up the craziness, stretched to new heights of disturbed lest I lose her interest. Heaven forbid I get better, find hope, and use the tools I’d been taught.
Recovery was synonymous with isolation, loneliness, being forgotten as I was dropped back into the tale of normalcy and weighed by the curse of potential. I’d return to regular, another girl disappearing in the swirl of high school, neither the best nor the worst, simply average and alone. So, I soldiered on, desperately picking up the phone and nonchalantly hinting at impending death, casually suggesting that suicide was at the top of my Saturday night activities, and then proclaimed shock when she arrived at the front door.
Please, my silence screamed, convince me that you really care. Prove to me that you love me in spite of the paycheck and not because of it. Please, assure me that I am most special, that your care extends beyond fifty-minute sessions. And with my lie, she rose to the occasion. But with my lie, I lost her.
Yes, she showed up when she wasn’t obligated to, and yes, she obviously cared. But she saw through my downcast stare and read my fiction in the spaces. She knew there was no note to find, but also knew my stubbornness would insist on the existence of nothingness even in the face of disputing evidence. So we stood still, staring each other down, as my lie sunk in and I shrunk with impending guilt. This was not going to end well. The price of my test offset the glory. Her precious visit brought her hand to hold, but only as she led me through the doors of hospital admissions. My lie served up furious and tearful parents, a gnawing pit of getting caught in falsehoods, and the disappointment shadowing her eyes as she urged me to at least tell the truth and I remained still. My lie summed up my teenaged life: choosing immediate relief over lengthy consequences, always true to form as I sacrificed my future for the hug of right now.
I lied. I lied and I crossed a line, tasting her resentment as I realized too late that, backed into a corner forced to prove her love, I had transformed myself back into a pain-in-the-ass client ranting dramatically while rooted in the breeze. I lied and I lost her that night. I lied and I betrayed my family and myself, erasing reliability with every claim I cast. I lied without learning my lesson.
I watched her frenetic sprint to catch us all before we crashed, and I loved her for trying, for believing us even in fiction, for being too inexperienced to know how to set boundaries, for cherishing our cracks and lumpy tears. She didn’t lead me to heath, nor did she guide me towards adulthood. She wallowed with me compassionately, and waved good-bye when I left for college. But I thought I needed her, and so I lied to keep her hooked, keep her close.
I lied for decades, until I learned to recognize truth, own my truth, and speak my truth. And that’s when the lies catch up with you. When you have been a liar, your truths pay the price. Upon a bed of hollow lies, my truth is probed. Upon decades of lies, the burden of proof rests within my honesty.