Entering a new school has always gotten the better of me since I was young. Thinking about it, this is my fourth time transferring schools since middle school and it just never gets easier. I woke up today at five starting my morning by taking a shower, changing into a clean pair of clothes, shuffling around my room before I decided that I didn't like the clothes I was wearing and. I changed once more. I needed to wear something comfortable and after some time my mom came to check on me. It's unbelievably difficult to start school halfway through the year when I was barely adjusting to my last school even though I had already been attending for a year. I sat on my bed feeling my heart pounding against my chest and my throat felt tight.
I knew I was already having anxiety trying to make myself feel ready and not let this pressure get to me, but it was so difficult to focus while my chest felt so heavy. Not until the day is over, I can return to my room to cry over this feeling I am having and just relieve the stress that I've put in my body. These past four years have become a struggle whenever I leave the house and I know it's been difficult for my mother to deal with me now that I'm living with her. There were times that it would take me five days to just talk to a teacher, two weeks to try to speak with my classmates, and a month to even sit with them during lunch. The only reason it's been so difficult now is that I can't handle people being so close to me and it's so difficult to explain it to people because they just don't understand these challenges that they never went through or experienced.
During the summer, after my freshman year, I developed a disorder that the doctor called haphephobia; when I was released from the hospital almost two years ago I noticed that it had gotten worse even after treatments and my mother began to grow concerned about my behavior. I knew it got worse when my cousin reached out to hug me when I visited my relatives during winter vacation two months ago and I couldn't let him near me being left alone with him. I pushed him away from me without thinking because in my mind I was terrified and he hit his head against the wall after losing balance. Soon after I couldn't let a stranger shake hands with me and I was afraid of how I would react with anyone near me in any circumstances. How is it that when I feel their skin touching my own it'll give me this burning sensation like I'm on fire and I just can't bear it when that feeling lingers?
I'm a sixteen-year-old teenage boy who completely hates to be touched, has social anxiety, and to top it off all I wanted to do was to live a normal life as quietly as I could while also afraid. Living this way has grown so exhausting with every single day passing that I didn't want my mom to worry about me just for today and I'm going to try to push myself more because I feel like I have to. I've become unfamiliar with my own body and I could just hope that someday I wouldn't have to be disgusted being by someone or with myself. Could there be a much simpler way to grasp a normal life without being triggered or find a way that would help me stop myself from these habits that I've created to cope through the day?
I needed a coping mechanism to help distant me when I approach something that I have a difficult time dealing with and the one I developed recently is by pinching my arm which I should stop doing because I'll wound up bruising my arms. I also have a rubber band around my wrist, but with my mind unfocused I realized that I've already left a bruise on my arm and it'll most likely show more by the end of the day. It was seven now so I finally stepped out of my room and made my way to the living room to look for my backpack wanting to make sure that I have everything that I'll need. My mind was racing from one thought to another; from wondering how I'll last throughout the day to how will I be able to go through all my classes without panicking. I only want to have an easy first day.
"Are you hungry?" I heard my mom ask from the kitchen.
"No," I answered, reaching for my black backpack and opening it.
I had to double-check everything was still inside from the notebooks to the new pens my mom bought and made sure I wasn't forgetting anything else.
"Hun, you didn't eat dinner last night. You have to be hungry. Eat something small." She said as she came to check on me.
"I'm not hungry. I'm nervous and I can't think about anything else right now." I said, closing my bag and turned to her. "I've been thinking about this new school all night and since I woke up I've been feeling anxious."
"You can skip school if you want to and let them know that you're sick." She suggested.
I wish I was sick.
"Mom, that's not going to help and you know that I'll still feel like this tomorrow as well; until I go to school," I tell her.
"I told your principal about your haphephobia. She was very understanding about it and said that she would try to make it comfortable for you as best as she could." She said, taking a seat on the couch beside me. "Maybe this year will be good for you."
"Don't give me this false hope, Mom. I'll just try my best today. My top goal is to step inside all my classrooms and come home to sleep... We should head out now." I said with a sigh.
"Now? The school doesn't start for another hour." She said as she saw me put on my shoes.
"That's a good enough time for me to enter the school and find my class," I said, taking a deep breath and debate about putting on my jacket. "I'm trying, Mom."
She gave me a small smile reaching out to hold my hand; she's the only one I was comfortable enough to allow to touch me. "I know and I'm proud of you."
We left the house after a while because my mom was trying to shove a few fruits into my bag and a homemade sandwich that she had prepared in case I was hungry. I regretted not bringing my jacket because it was still cold outside with the February winter air and in this new town that we moved to was a lot colder considering we live near the ocean by a few miles. I was calculating everything; it's a ten-minute drive to my school, three minutes for me to step out of her car to stare up at my school, and another fifteen minutes for me to walk through the front gate. The pounding on my chest grows louder as we went through the main office for them to give me a printout of my class schedule and once we were done she turned to me knowing that this is where we part-ways.
"You're going to be okay." She said trying to calm me and was patting down my short curly hair.
"I feel like throwing up," I whispered as I pinched my arm again.
"You know your old therapist said to find another way to relieve your stress." She said as she watched me and reached a hand out to stop me.
"I know. Sorry." I said as I put my hands in my pockets. "Okay, I'm going."
"Want me to pick you up?" She asked before I turned around.
She smiled softly, "Of course. I'll be here; the same place as I parked the car."
I nod my head as I try to smile back at her then turn away pressing my lips together exiting the office building and trying to prove to myself that I can do this. I tried not to pinch my arm again because it was starting to sting now and walked towards a building while looking at the schedule. It took some time to figure out if I entered the right building as I started folding the paper, wrinkling in my hands, and it took me a couple of minutes to find my classroom. I stopped a few feet away from the door feeling uncertain about walking into a room knowing that I'm in a new territory. I crouch down wrapping my arms around my legs and covering my face as I take a deep breath hoping that will calm myself. In the corner of my eyes a teenager, a classmate, steps out of the room and walks over towards me, but I tried to ignore him. I was starting to feel frustrated with myself and at the same time, I was getting a bit anxious that the person was still standing beside me making me feel like I'm being watched. He sat down next to me and was quiet as if he was keeping me company.
"You want to go to the restroom?" He finally spoke.
I shook my head and finally looked up, wiping my face with the sleeve of my long sleeve shirt.
"Can you leave me alone," I mumbled
"How about we step outside? We can sit somewhere." He suggested next.
I glanced over at him and saw that he was wearing a name badge on his shirt. "Who are you?"
He smiled, showing a small dimple only on his left cheek. "I'm the student-teacher aid. It's my senior elective." He explained.
I looked at him seeing someone who is the complete opposite of me by looks and body. A dirty short blonde while I had dark curly hair; his eyes were light brown shade; he was far more built compared to me who feels so scrawny and short. Turning away feeling shy, wondering if I starred a little too long than I had meant to and hoped that he didn't notice. Honestly, a lot of people could have a better body built compared to me since I never took care of my health and have a very low appetite.
"Are you allowed to step out like that?" I asked him, now that I've calmed down a little.
"Not really... but I guess for you they'll allow it and the teacher was curious if you needed some help." He said and his smile fades a bit. "My name's Elliot. Elliot Thompson."
"Michael Hernandez." I introduced myself but I'm sure he already knew my name. I stood up to step away from the door before turning back to him. "What did they say about me?"
Elliot looked like he hesitated for a second before standing up as well and stood there. "Just about your condition... that you might not be too open to the class for a while and to make sure you're comfortable with the distance between the students. We're still a little confused about how to be around you..." He said, rubbed the back of his neck.
"It's fine. I'm not planning to be that interactive this semester..." I said then glanced over at him. "I don't want to go in yet."
"That's fine. I'll go in with you when you're ready." He said, watching me. "So how long have you had this condition?"
I glanced over at him and tapped the floor with the end of my show, "Almost two years, I think. It kind of built up to it a few years before that."
I wasn't too comfortable discussing my haphephobia or my disorder that I've been dealing with but I can answer a few basic questions about it since a lot of people are always curious and I knew I should share some information.
He nods as he thinks about my answer and slowly holds his hand out towards me. "Let's be friends? I'll help you as much as you want to let me and I'm very patient so you don't have to worry if you think I'm bothered or anything." He tells me. "I took AP psychology last year and I've been studying independently... Not that I think you're a test subject or anything of it but I just wish I can help you if you need help."
I looked at his hands before slowly reaching out to shake it and felt a little annoyed by his introduction. "You do know that that sounded kind of rude... And a simple handshake doesn't always frighten me."
He quickly let go of my hand after I touched it and blushed, "Sorry, I kind of realized that as well too after I said it... I didn't mean it like that."
"It's fine. I know what you're trying to say. It's great that you take psychology seriously, but I think I could use a friend more than feel like you're my therapist." I said, clutched my hands into a fist, and looked over at the door that's still open.
"She's going to always leave that door open for you in case you feel closed off in the classroom or if you ever feel uncomfortable in the classroom." He explained. "We weren't too sure if you were comfortable with opening doors either way."
I pressed my lips together trying to breathe through my nose as I listened then slowly walked towards the door. "I would rather be the last person to leave the room right now and I don't do so well in crowds. Where am I going to sit?"
"We have two empty seats to choose from: one in the back of the room and the other is in the front right next to the teacher desk." He said walking beside me.
I thought about this for a second: the back sounds safe yet I have to walk past people every morning and it'll be a hassle to walk around everyone while I can just easily enter the classroom to sit right away but once the class is over everyone has to walk past me. The thought of people hovering over me gave me an overwhelming feeling. It made me feel sick or the stress on my body was now overwhelming me, but I wanted to change this school year and not pick the easy way out to just simply deal with it without making myself better. I took a deep breath walking to the door, being able to see the teacher writing on the whiteboard and she saw me standing there. She smiled softly, trying to welcome me in, and I glanced back at Elliot wanting to make sure that he was coming in with me. I can do this, I tell myself repeatedly. I entered keeping my head down and walked over to the front desk that Elliot told me about. It was in the far left corner of the room and it didn't seem that bad to sit at, but walking towards it felt so long and that all I felt was pounding against my chest. Elliot followed right behind me as if he was attached to me and grabbed a spare chair to move it nearby me.
"See, it's okay." He whispers as he watches me and I heard the teacher continuing her lesson.
"It's not," I told him as I still kept my head down trying to calm myself.
I wanted to focus on the lecture but my mind was still somewhere else. I covered my face as I'm leaning against my arm on the table and tried to take deep breaths. I was able to hear a pause in the lecture, maybe they were watching me cautiously, and a few people mumbling the teacher continued with her lesson. Maybe they're waiting for a reaction from me because of the way my body language shouts discomfort and possibly they were unsure of what to do if I had an outburst.
"You want to go back to the hall?" Elliot whispers.
I shook my head, but I do want to leave the room and leave the school to crawl back to my bed where it was safe. Running back towards the hallway where it was empty, where there wasn't a room full of people staring at you like they didn't know how to handle you, and hoping to remove these thoughts of hands scratching deep in my throat because you're starting to feel isolated. My whole body tensed up as I felt this heavy feeling drop in the pit of my stomach that I knew what was going to come next. It was my nerves finally coming at me after having it all balled up after waking up this morning.
"I'm going to throw up," I mumbled.
"What?" Elliot asked as he leaned in closer to hear me better.
"I need to go," I said, covering my mouth as I stood up to run back out of the hall.
Everything was blurry as I returned to the comfort of the empty hall and Elliot suddenly came in front of me with a trash can in his hands. I took it as I instantly vomited inside it while trying to be quiet about it and the last thing I needed was for the class to hear me throwing up as I humiliated myself even more. I felt Elliot tug at my long sleeve signaling me to follow and I did after I was done. He led me down the hall to the restroom and held the door open for me. I was breathing heavily as I still gripped the trash can waiting to see if there was anything else for me to vomit; which wasn't too much since I haven't had a full meal since yesterday afternoon. Elliot turned the water for me so I could wash and I let the water splash my face hoping that the cool feeling can help ease me.
"I can't go back there... I shouldn't have gone inside." I told him as I reached for a paper towel to wipe my face.
"What was so bad that it made you sick?" He asked, confused.
"They were staring. I felt them all staring at me and it felt suffocating because I'm trying to not let my mind feel like the walls were closing in on me." I try to explain with my voice rising a little as I'm feeling my anxiety spilling out and I clutched my hands together. "I just want everything to stop."
"Michael, breathe slowly," Elliot said, reaching out to grab my shoulder because I was already shaking.
When I saw his hand coming towards me I could only pull myself away from him and stumbled a little trying to catch myself. "Don't touch me!"
Elliot raised his hands to show that they weren't near me taking a step back seeing my hostile reaction. "I won't. I'm sorry."
I slowly kneeled down towards the dirty floor as I tried to fight off my tears. "Just not right now."
Elliot watched me as I quietly cried for a couple of minutes while we both didn't say anything and it was just silence between us. It took me a couple of minutes to finally calm down but he kept his distance from me until we heard a small knock on the door and Elliot glanced over at me before stepping out leaving me alone. I wiped my face with the sleeve of my shirt and Elliot came back standing slightly at the doorway like he was worried that he might overstep my boundaries again.
"Do you want them to call your mom?" He asked.
I thought about this for a second before nodding deciding that I couldn't stay for the rest of the day. "Yeah, I want to go home," I answered.
Elliot left again after hearing my response and after some time he came back. "They said I should stay with you until she arrives." He tells me as he cautiously stands by the door.
I nod as I couldn't bring myself to look at him.
We were quiet again before Elliot spoke. "What was going through your mind?" He asked me curiously. "You sat down for a second and that made you sick."
I shook my head as I tried to find the words to explain before I finally turned to him. "The things I feel... Everyone..." I tried to say before giving up and tried to find a new way to explain it. "You know that feeling when you don't know how to swim and you feel the floor beneath you until suddenly it's gone. That comfort feeling that you can stand suddenly feels like you're drowning and you can't breathe anymore because you're beginning to panic as if your throat is being squeezed making it hard for you to breathe. It feels like no one is going to save you..." I tell him. "And you see their hands wanting to help you but your eyes only see them as pushing you down deeper into the shallow water..."
After I said those words it was quiet again between us and I wiped away my tears.
"I don't know if that makes sense... Maybe I didn't explain it well." I said as I turned away from him and I rubbed my forehead feeling a headache. "I'm so tired of it."
"Michael..." Elliot opened his mouth before closing it like he didn't know what else to say.
"You don't have to pretend to be my friend anymore. It's obvious that you're only watching over me because they asked you." I tell him.
"I wasn't pretending. I meant it when I said that I want to be friends." He said, quickly. "I just didn't know that that's how you felt... the fact that you've been struggling like that for so long..."
"Yeah, struggling for what? I'm going to be like this for the rest of my life. How long am I going to let myself be trapped like this?" I told him, feeling angry now. "Do you know how horrible I feel hearing my mom cry every time I have an episode like today? I hate seeing her struggle as much as I hate myself."
Elliot reached out to me before he slowly lowered his hands. "You can't say that about yourself," he says.
"Why not? It's true. And please don't start with the whole 'you can get past this', 'you'll get better'. All of that is bullshit." I tell him.
"Michael," Elliot called my name, sounding a little disappointed.
"What? I've heard it so many times. I tried getting help but nothing works and I'm so sick of those therapists acting like they know my struggle." I said as I felt my face growing hot with anger. "They don't. How can they even know what I'm going through if you don't understand it."
"Michael, what happened to you that made you like this?" Elliot asked as he reached his hand out again and slowly held my arm.
I froze as I looked at his hand. "Let go," I said quietly before I tried to shake my arm out of his hold. "Let go of me."
"You can tell me and maybe I can help," he asked as he kept his hold on me.
"Stop! Please, let go." I said with my voice rising, and I still try to fight against his hold.
"Not until you calmed down." He retorts.
I felt my chest tighten as I pulled my arm away with my whole body before feeling out of breath again. "No! Don't touch me!" I said, beginning to yell. "Stop!"
With the last strength that I had in me, I pulled my arm out of his hold and I stumbled back falling to the ground backing away from him; afraid that he'd grab me again. The door swung open as Ms. Lang entered to see the commotion and it must not have been a good sight to see because she had a furious expression as she looked from me to Elliot. She asked Elliot to step out and left me alone until my mom arrived. It took me a couple of minutes to step out of the bathroom and to walk down the hall avoiding anyone's gaze. After finally stepping out of the school grounds and sitting comfortably in my mom's car; I finally let myself cry again. I cried as my mom wrapped her arms around me and I know that I didn't do my best as I wanted.
"I'm sorry." I finally said between tears as she let go of my head.
"Honey, you don't need to apologize," she tells me.
"But I wanted to do this. I wanted to go in and have a normal day, but I couldn't." I said between tears. "Why can't I do this?"
My mother shook her head as she brushed her fingers over my cheeks to wipe my tears. "The world out there isn't as dangerous as it was before. I wish you could see that someday," she tells me, softly. "You just need to find a way to accept everything that's happened to you."
I shook my head, "I don't think I can. How can I when I remember everything that happened? I relive it every day."
I can hear my mom beginning to cry and I hugged her this time. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault," I tell her.
"But I wasn't there for you. I left and have all that happened to you," she said between tears. "Mom, you're here now. I don't blame you for any of this. I forgive you." I told her and I know deep down I had blamed her, but not for what happened that changed me.
During the drive home, it was silent as Mom had nothing else to say and I didn't want to talk more about what happened. I was exhausted so I went to lay down on my bed after coming home and I closed my eyes hoping to fall asleep. I just want this day to end, but I don't want tomorrow to begin. I don't want to start a new day or even try going to school either. Elliot was only trying to help yet he did everything that I couldn't handle, but I don't blame him either. I want to blame him, but it wasn't exactly his fault because he doesn't know what escalated my anxiety. I sighed as I got up walking to the restroom and closed the door behind me as I played some music from my phone while I leaned over the counter. I looked at myself in the mirror before opening the cabinet taking out a bag that hid a small blade and I sat down on the toilet as I took a few breaths starring it. I haven't cut myself for almost a year and there have been a few times where I sat down with the blade in my hand and remind myself that I stopped after moving in with my mom, but I couldn't stop right away at first so I left some scars on my thighs instead; where she can't see it.
I couldn't bring myself to stop until one day she found the blade and her reaction was what stopped me completely. I sigh heavily, finally putting the blade back in the bag and I knew at some point I would have to throw it away so I wouldn't be tempted. I washed my face before returning to my room to lay down on my bed trying to drift off to sleep. I skipped school the next day, I didn't even bother getting out of bed when my mom knocked on the door and saw I wasn't getting myself ready. Why should I go back after what happened; after I embarrassed myself; after I reminded myself that I am not normal.
"Honey, I'm home." My mother knocked on my door again in the evening after getting home from work. "I'm going to make dinner... Are you hungry?"
It took me a second to speak, feeling a bit dazed since I slept more than half the day. "No. I ate earlier." I lied.
There was a long silence before she spoke again. "Okay, but I'll leave you a plate in the microwave if you get hungry later." She tells me.
"Alright," I replied as I closed my eyes.
"Are you going to school tomorrow?" She asked.
"Can I not?" I said opening my eyes to look at the clock on my bed-stand table reading five o'clock in the evening.
"You have to eventually, dear." She answered. "You can't stay in your room like this. You have to try and go back. Go, study, and learn."
I pulled the covers over my shoulders. "Mom..." I called.
"I love you," I said as loudly as I could so she can hear.
"I love you too, honey." She replied.
I closed my eyes and I fell asleep soon after. I've slept for hours and I know that I've only been sleeping to avoid everything but by the time I woke up it was only six in the morning. I can hear movement outside and know that my mom was getting ready for work. I sat up as I ran my fingers through my hair when I heard her pause for a second and I wondered if she heard me, but she didn't come near my door. I got up, finally deciding that I should try to go to school today. I had to try for my mom. I waited until she left to step out of my room and grabbed something to drink when I saw she left a note on the fridge saying that it was fine if I couldn't go to school, but I know she would rather I do. I washed the dishes after I ate then went back to my room to grab my clean pair of clothes and took a long shower.
What am I going to say to him? Would I be able to face him as well? What about the rest of the day? If I can't enter my first period, how can I be able to go to my other classes without being afraid of talking in front of the class, having to introduce myself to people I don't even know, again and again. They would think I'm a freak because I don't want them to shake my hand or when I look away because I can't make eye contact with them. I began to cry as I'm calling myself pathetic for being afraid of something so simple. I promised myself. It was already eight and the school had already started.
I let my backpack fall on the floor as I finally gave up and I sat there trying to calm myself when suddenly I heard the doorbell ring. I used the end of my sleeve to wipe my face and try to compose myself as I opened the door wondering who it could be. I froze when I saw Elliot standing there and for a second I wasn't too sure if it was him. He looked nervous when he saw me, but gave me a small smile as if he was happy to see me and I wasn't too sure if I was.
"What are you doing here?" I asked instantly.
Elliot seemed a little surprised by my reaction and cleared his throat. "I wanted to check in on you." He answered. "You didn't come yesterday and I had a feeling you wouldn't go today." He tells me.
"And how did you get my address?"
"I asked in the front office since I have some worksheets to give you to catch up on the class." He said as he took out a packet from his backpack. "I put in some notes to help you."
I stood there for a second as I looked at him before taking it and shaking my head. "I can't go back," I tell him and feel myself wanting to cry again. "I tried today. I did."
"Hey..." He said, reaching his hand out to me but I took a step back and he pulled his hand away. "I'm sorry."
It was silent between us for a minute and I decided to speak first. "You're going to be late for school." I remind him.
"I'm not going today." He tells me. "As I said, I wanted to check on you. I'm sorry about what happened."
"You don't have to apologize. It was all my fault." I told him as I took a couple of steps back to let him come in but I kept my distance between us. "Um, you should come in."
"It wasn't your fault." He said as he closed the door and moved to sit on the couch. "I shouldn't have pushed you the way I did back there after you told me not to touch you. I didn't know that your condition was that severe or if I had known that you would react like that you have every right to hate me."
I looked down as I listened and I pressed my lips together as I tried to find the words to say. "But you don't know me and you don't know about my condition so you don't know what my limits are. I told you that I couldn't do it. I couldn't even go today." I said as I covered my face. "I hate this. Sometimes I can't tell if I've gotten worse."
Elliot rubbed his hands across his lap and took a deep breath. "I'm still sorry... Blame it all on me if that makes you feel better. Please, the way you looked at me after what happened in the restroom, I don't want you to ever have to look at someone like that again."
"Like what?" I asked him; even though I knew the answer.
"You looked at me with disgust." He said and he turned to look at me. "And I honestly felt disgusted with myself as well afterward."
"Because I was trying to force you to say something that you aren't ready to talk about and I'm just a stranger so I shouldn't have been asking." He explained. "I hope you can trust me again and if I'm stepping on that boundary again then push me, tell me to stop and I will."
I covered my face as I listened to him and I didn't know what to say but maybe I was still emotionally exhausted. He stayed silent as he watched me cry. I don't know how long it stayed that way, but it felt like the familiar comfort that my mom makes me feel when she lets me express myself when I'm not feeling well. How she lets me show that nasty side of myself that I try to hide every day.
"I'm so tired of this." I finally said feeling exhausted.
"What do you mean?" Elliot asked and I shook my head not wanting to look at him.
"I want to trust you. I would like to trust you since you took the time to come to visit me, but I just have a hard time trusting people and knowing how to be around them. There isn't anyone that I trust besides my mom and I'm starting to shut her out." I said as I finally got up and moved to sit on the other couch across from him. "I've been dealing with this for so many years. People scare me because I don't know what they'll do. What will they think once they find out how much of a freak I am? Everyone is always on eggshells around me."
Elliot presses his lips together before sighing. "Then give me time. I'll try harder and soon you can call me a friend. I hope you'll trust me and I can be there for you when you need it." He said as he looked up at me.
I covered my face with my hand and it was quiet again until I turned to him. "Can you... can you help me go to school tomorrow?" I asked him.
Elliot smiles and nods, "Yeah, I'll give you a ride in my car. Every day if you need me to." He said.
I chuckled quietly. "Let's just try it out at least once," I said before my smile faded as I cleared my throat. "Just don't touch me when I say not to... I don't like that."
"I know. I'm sorry." He replied as we both remembered the event from yesterday. "I hope you don't mind me asking, but do you see a therapist?"
I shook my head, "Not anymore. My insurance couldn't cover it which is why we moved here... my mom got a job that offers her insurance and it'll be able to cover for it if I want to continue with it." I answered and rubbed the back of my neck. "But I didn't see it helping me when I was going."
"Don't take it the wrong way, Michael, but I think you should reconsider that." He said, taking a quick glance over at me as if embarrassed to suggest it.
I sigh as I shrugged my shoulders, "I know. It feels like it's getting worse, but I'm just not sure." I agreed, but I wasn't planning on seeing one just yet until I get comfortable in school.
There was a long silence as we sat there and I tried to figure out what I wanted to say before I glanced over at him. I want to trust Elliot, he wants me to, and so far he is all I have to call as a friend at this moment. I glanced at my bedroom as I thought about a few things before I slowly moved to stand up and turned to him.
"You said to trust you right?" I asked him.
"Yes." He answered.
"I want to give you something to show that I trust you, but I want you to get rid of it and without questions," I said as I hesitated and my fingers were fidgeting as I tried not to feel nervous. "It's just something that I have and I don't know how to get rid of it."
Elliot shifted slightly and nodded after a second. "Sure. Take it and get rid of it." He repeated. "What is it?"
I hesitated before walking to the restroom to grab the bag and I paused before coming back to the living room. It was a surprise that I decided to do this, but I reminded myself that I wanted to do better and I wanted to trust him as well. Maybe this was the effort that I can do on my own or with help. I slowly walked over to him and handed him the razor before I regret doing it. Elliot stared at the blade confused before turning to me looking lost for words now understanding what it is and I shook my head.
"Just get rid of it," I tell him again. "Please."
"Okay." He said as he safely put it away in his bag.
I took a deep breath and tried to find the words to say next as I sat down again. "I don't... I don't do that anymore if you're curious. When I want to relapse I only just hold it as a way to distract myself but there are times where I want to do it and if I keep having it here it'll just convince me to continue to harm myself."
I can tell Elliot was still confused so I continued. "I haven't done it for a year and I don't want my mom to see me like that. She can barely handle me now and I've been in worse states that I really can't be handled." I tell him and I look down at my hands. "I'm only telling you because I want to trust you. I want to be normal and do things that everyone can do."
"You are normal. You just had something bad happen that you haven't been able to recover from. Whatever that has happened to you was something you didn't have control over and no one to help support you I'm sure of ." Elliot tells me and moves to sit beside me. "If you had proper care then you would have been better by now."
I held my breath for a second before nodding, "I know." I said feeling like he knew the words I wanted to hear.
"But at least you have support now, right?"
I nod, "Yeah, I think so." I answered and took another deep breath. "Thank you."
It was silence between us, again, as we didn't have anything else to say before Elliot got up and turned to me, "Come on." he said as he pulled out his car keys from his pocket.
"Where are we going?" I asked as I stood up to follow him.
"Just to get some fresh air," he said as he opened the door and I locked it behind me.
We walked towards his car and we began to head out once I buckled myself in. I didn't mind not knowing where we were going, but at the same time, I wasn't sure if I was even interested in wanting to go anywhere since I still didn't know the area. I sighed as I looked out the window and realized that we came to a park after he pulled into the parking lot. We got out when he parked and I zipped up my jacket as I felt the cool breeze once stepping outside. Honestly, it was a refreshing feeling being outside after I've kept myself in my room and getting a little bit of sun.
"I haven't gone to the park for a while..." I said as we walked over to an empty picnic table and sat down.
"Well, it'll be a nice outing and maybe we can get lunch before taking you back home," Elliot said as he sat down across from me.
It got quiet between us again and I had to look away to distract myself as I tried to figure out what to say. What am I supposed to say? I don't really know how to hold a conversation and I'm sure anything that I say would just come out gloomy.
"So, I honestly know how it feels to be distant with people and to struggle. I've had my own share of trauma as well after my dad died when I was seven years old." Elliot said, bringing my attention back to him.
"I'm sorry," I didn't know what else to say.
"It's okay. This happened years ago. It took me a while to get over it since I was young and it kind of hurt my mom, but it wasn't an accident that killed him. He committed suicide." He sighed heavily as he looked down at the table. "He was diagnosed with depression and he had a really hard time holding a job. My mom didn't know what to do because he would have episodes and she decided to leave him for my safety."
I listened as I sat there picking at the end of my jacket.
"He thought he would never see us, me, again so he took a couple of pills and never woke up." He said as he turned to look at me and straighten up a bit as he inhaled. "Don't take it the wrong way, but yesterday in the bathroom you reminded me of my dad and it made me wonder how he must have felt or what he went through."
I pressed my lips together as I processed this before looking up at him. "It wasn't your fault about what happened to your dad," I tell him.
"I know, but I also didn't make it better for how I behaved yesterday," he said. "I felt like shit after you left and I thought to myself: how can I be so stupid to think I can help you when I don't even know you or know what you have been through that you don't want to be touched."
It got silent again and I can feel the breeze brushing against my hair.
"I know that you're not like my dad and I don't know what you went through, but handing me that blade made me wish my dad could have given someone those pills too," he said after a second of silence. "So thank you, again, for trusting me."
I nod as I tried to figure out what to say after hearing that. "I want to trust you because of all that we've talked about so far, but you shouldn't feel like you have to protect me either if we continue to hang around," I tell him. "I'm sorry that you had to see me like that, but if we're friends then you might see me act out again and I don't want that to always be upsetting you. I get annoyed with myself when I'm like that too."
Elliot looked at me and smiled softly, "But wouldn't it be better to have a friend dealing with you instead of being alone?" he asked me.
I took a deep breath and shook my head, "I haven't had a real friend for a while so I don't know. Everyone in my old school was always nice and helped me out, but they never really bothered taking the time to hang out with me outside of the classroom. I don't even know how to be a friend, honestly."
"It's okay. We're still learning about each other and that's pretty much how it goes with making friends." He answered. "Is that fine?"
I nod as I take a deep breath and turn away. "Yeah," I said and I tried to distract myself by looking around the park.
"Do you want to go already?" He asks.
"Yeah," I answered shortly.
We got up headed our way back to the car and I wanted to stay outside a little longer, but at the same time, I just wanted to go back to the comfort of my home. The trip back was silent but I think that's because we're still trying to get used to each other and finding out how we can be with each other without making things uncomfortable or awkward. I can tell he's trying and somewhere inside me felt a little happy because I never really had a friend that wanted to get to know me. Once arriving at the house, I got out of the car and fixed my jacket before turning back to him. He was about to get out of the car but I put up my hands to stop him. He doesn't have to follow me everywhere.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" he asked.
I nod, "Yeah." I answered.
"Seven on the dot. Be out here or I'll be knocking at your door," he said, smiling.
I know he was joking but imagine him trying to pull me out of the house was giving me a tight feeling on my chest. "Okay." was all I can say.
Elliot must have noticed my hesitant response and paused for a second. "I'm not going to force you to go to school, Michael. I didn't mean it like that," he said.
I shook my head, "I know... I know." I said and tried to give him a small smile. "I'll see you tomorrow."
He nods, "Tomorrow." he said.
I made my way to the door and saw that Elliot was there waiting until he saw me unlock the door before driving off. I walked inside, exhaled heavily, as I moved to sit down on the couch and kicked off my shoes. Why did today feel like it was so long when I didn't do anything? Maybe I was a little stressed out from earlier and the long conversation we had. I closed my eyes as I tried to imagine how it would be tomorrow, but I realized that it would only make me feel nervous so I got up and began cleaning. We still have things in boxes so I started emptying them out and washed the dishes that were wrapped up with newspapers. This occupied my mind for about two hours until my mom came home and she began to cook dinner.
"Thank you for helping, baby," she said smiling as she saw me folding the empty boxes.
"No problem," I answered before looking at the old family photo that I took out from the last box.
Mom glanced over at the photo before turning to me. "Do you want to keep that?" she asks.
"Sure. I don't think I actually have a picture with all of us." I said as I sat down at the dining table still admiring the photo. "Dad looks a little younger here compared to how he looks now," I say before turning to her. "Are you still mad at him?"
She sighed as she continued on cooking before turning to face me. "Of course I am. I know I wasn't involved enough, but I trusted him."
"Dad didn't know..." I mumbled.
"But how could he not see? How could he not have noticed his own son was hurt?" she said, shaking her head.
I took a deep breath before getting up and wrapped my arms around her. "Mom, I forgave you for leaving, but you also have to forgive him as well," I tell her.
She held me tighter and smiled. "So now you're giving me the advice?"
"Yeah, I guess so," I said, breaking into a smile.
She looked at me and smiled softly, "I love you." she tells me.
"I love you too, mom," I replied back.
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