When I was fifteen I had a friend who was pretty much opposite of me in any way I could imagine.
I was a short, brown-eyed, brunette female.
He was a tall, blue-eyed, blond male.
I was a people pleaser, got good grades, and had a lot of anxiety surrounding perfectionism.
He had trouble getting along with people, was failing at least one class and had anger issues.
I never skipped school.
He regularly walked out in the middle of a class if he got pissed off at the teacher.
I would think things through to the nth degree...
He didn't think beyond how he felt in the moment.
What, you might ask, were his redeeming qualities? Well, he was honest. Mostly because he wasn't very good at hiding his emotions, but I really valued the honesty.
And at the time was finding it difficult to trust people around me. So this blunt, overreactive boy with anger-management issues was a breath of fresh air.
Don't think that this was some kind of bad-boy infatuation or a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing. Because it wasn't.
He was not interested in me in any romantic way (trust me, he would not have been able to hide something like that.) And I was only interested in him as a trustworthy peer. His not being a girl was a bonus, because most of the people I had trouble trusting at the moment were female.
I may have told this story before, but I'm not sure and I don't care. I'll retell it. And if it doesn't sound the same, well that's the nature of memory. Truth is malleable.
I was seeing a therapist after my friends had ratted me out for being Depressed. I did not like this therapist. I never learned her proper name. It started with a G. I made up some horrible-sounding name and that is how I thought of her in my head.
Because I did not like this woman, and I had no desire to be in therapy, I figured my best option was to cooperate to the fullest extent and just get the hell out of there.
But I seemed to be making little progress on the exit strategy. I had to go see her All The Time. Maybe it was once a week. Maybe less. I don't know. I didn't find it very helpful since all I wanted to do was GET OUT.
This therapist was super pregnant and needed to hand off her patients to other counselors. So she needed to meet with me and my parents. They set up the appointment without checking with me. (Of course they did. I was a kid. Were they supposed to ask me to check my calendar and see if I was available? Still, I was livid.)
I had a French test scheduled for that day at the same time that they had scheduled. And I hadn't told my teacher that I would be gone. This infuriated me. I told them I refused to go see Mrs. Gweklefrunge.
Too bad. I had to go. Fine. You can make me go, but you cannot make me participate.
Every other time I had ever been to see this woman I had been the epitome of openness and charm. She asked a question, I answered it. Even if sometimes it felt like I was digging for an answer that didn't really exist. But this time, with my parents there, I vowed to myself that I would say NOTHING. No. Matter. What.
Mrs. Gweklefrunge started out by saying that when I first came in that, on a scale of 1-10, her worry level about me was maybe a four. But now her worry level was at a 10.
My lack of response was an indicator of my true state of mind. I had been pulling the wool over all of their eyes for the last gazillion visits. I was clearly a danger to myself and others. She recommended that I be hospitalized immediately.
And somehow, still, I managed to say nothing.
Until she left. Then I believe I was quite vociferous with my parents. I was terrified of hospitals. And I was in no way a danger to anyone. I wasn't just saying that to them. I am telling you now. I was not dangerous to me or anyone else.
Happily my parents said that they wanted a second opinion. I demanded to be taken back to school even through Mrs. Gweklefrunge said it was a horrible mistake and that I should never be left alone and someone should follow me everywhere I went, including and especially the bathroom.
My angry friend was the first person I saw when I returned to the school. There was another appointment set up for me once school was out. If I didn't pass inspection there I would be checked in to the hospital. Which was terrifying.
He asked what had happened and I told him the whole story. He could relate to the whole silent thing, even if he would have just walked out and possibly shouted a few choice words as he left.
Then he made one of the sweetest offers I have ever received. He offered to hide me. He knew how scared I was about going to the hospital. And even talking to this colleague of Mrs. Gweklefrunge made me get the shakes.
So, he suggested that we leave before school was out. His reasoning was that my parents had no idea that we were friends (which was true) and that he could hide me where they would never think to look (which was probably also true).
My reaction to this suggestion was the 15-year-old equivalent of patting his hand and saying, "Oh honey, that's so sweet of you." Because I could see straight through to the time when my parents would find me and then there was no way I could legitimately claim to be trustworthy or mentally well.
So I declined. I'm pretty sure he skipped the rest of his classes that afternoon to follow me around and make sure i was okay. Which is kinda funny, if you think about it.
When my parents came to pick me up he was nearby and gave me a questioning look. I knew that if I had made the slightest motion he would still have been willing to sweep me away with my parents and school officials and all running after us. And damn the consequences.
How odd that his kind offer has stayed with me for so long. And that i still have a warm feeling when I remember his insistence that he could take care of everything...
Have I mentioned how very glad I am that I am no longer a teenager. Spouse was in high school at the time. The following year when I was also at high school I completely lost track of my angry friend. I don't even know if he was at our school. I hope he is doing well.
Quaker, teacher, parent,