Dragged into work, because my ability to challenge authority figures is weak. Six hours later, and I have only twenty dollars to show for having put up with obnoxious people, which accounts for most of this city’s inhabitants. As if that wasn’t enough, the night was full of encounters with ex-boyfriends. Chad, who dated one of my regular customers, followed me around all night, whispering sweet nothings into my ear. He reminded me that we had kissed a few months prior. It was difficult for me to recall, considering I have kissed hundreds before him.
If he was telling the truth, it happened while I was briefly, but exclusively, dating another man named Josh. Not the one from Oregon, but I wouldn’t mind it, if he moved there. Furthermore, it wouldn’t have only meant that I was unfaithful, yet again, but that I had betrayed a friend. Susana is more than a regular customer; she is someone whose feelings I thought I would be careful with. Then, it all came to me, like a powerful punch to the face, which is exactly what I deserved. Chad cared just as much as I did not, and this is the case with every man. They put in an effort that I never truly notice, or reward.
When Chad realized that he would get nowhere, and no amount of desperation would cause me to want to relive an act I could barely remember, one that he hoped would lead to more daring and exciting physical activities, he began to insult me. Men often do, in order to regain some of their dignity. His friends participated in what they thought would bring me to tears, but my skin is only thin in theory, or it was thickened in the mental institution.
I do not often discuss my hospitalization. I maintain that it was unnecessary, and a major inconvenience. At fourteen years of age, my mother and father interpreted my behavior as abnormal. I had begun to shut them out, and when I spoke with them, every word was marked with some degree of hostility. I was opening my eyes to the crimes they had committed against their offspring, and a reaction was forming.
One afternoon, to pass the time, a friend and I called a suicide hotline. We meant it as a harmless prank. Growing bored after a few minutes, I disconnected the call. Moments later, the police showed up at my door. They suggested that I be taken to the emergency room, as they assessed from my appearance alone, that I was deeply troubled. Thin as a stick, and too terrified to make eye contact with anyone, they determined I suffered from depression, coupled with an eating disorder. Both were false and they are fools, but my parents needed to hold on to their innocence. I was self-destructing to defy them, to oppose them, to embarrass them.
From the emergency room, I was taken into a mental institution by ambulance.
I was there for seventy-two hours, on an involuntary psychiatric hold. A therapist, whom I spoke with once, and for no more than fifteen minutes, recommended I stay for a minimum of six months. The reason she gave was that I stated I was a nervous person, but somewhat happy nonetheless. This, she believed to be a lie. My parents pulled me out of the facility immediately.
Those three days will forever stay with me. Every patient was treated like garbage that must be hidden, until it can be disposed of properly. Preferably, in a fire that consumes all evidence. The girl who whored herself, let her burn. The boy with the sex addiction, let him burn. The girl who was taken there by her parents, so that they could enjoy an month-long vacation without her to worry about, let her burn. The girl who never learned to manage her anger, let her burn. The fat boy who wanted everyone to be happy at any cost, let him burn.
1:29 a.m., full-blown panic attack on the horizon. I see it like bombs going off, beautiful and destructive, tearing me apart at the limbs. Time feels as though it is moving forward, and then pulling back, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. This is impossible, and turns the mind in on itself. Perception is deceptive. Perception is impaired.
All that could be. All that should be. All that needs to be. All that is not. Not. Denial.
Where did the time go. Not every minute that led up to this very moment. Not why am I here? Big bang, evolution, no abortion. No. Where did this day go? Everything is racing by me, when I turn to admire a flower, write a word, eat a carrot. It is an evil thing.