July 29, 2010

Not As Bad As You Think

Don't Do It! 28/52
cross post with Flickr photo project

"Being a teenager is not terminal," I tell the hundreds of students who've walked through my classroom door. That's not how I begin the welcome-to-my-class speech, but perhaps I should because over the years, I've come to realize that whether they are spoiled brats or hood rats, they are all messed up.

Sometimes my colleagues and I joke about how f'ed up they all are, but deep down, we're not joking.

We just wish we were.

Some ease the angst of adolescence with alcohol and drugs, a social way to fit in and while feeling better. Others withdraw into themselves, with some of them exiting through self-inflicted pain. I hardly notice those who float through life high or between highs, a condition I've come to expect but not to approve of, yet it's the cutters that break me from the inside out. Cutting can be just as lethal as binge drinking or overdosing on drugs, but to make yourself bleed just to feel...

I don't know.

It's so desperate.

No, neither the hungover nor the high affect me the way those cutters do--when they've come to me in a panic, rolling their sleeves up, revealing their fresh scabs and pink scars, knowing that in the end it didn't really make them feel better. They come afraid, clinging to their fears, not wanting to die, as they aren't suicidal, yet knowing they are too close to the dangerous edge when they slit themselves open.

But, what am I suppose to do?

I wish I could have stopped their pain before it started...
if only I could make them see...
life isn't as bad as they think--
things won't always be so unbearable.

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