Wednesday, October 20, 2010
It really does.
There was a push today to wear purple in support of those LGBTQIA kids who get bullied and harassed at school. And, by extension, all kids who get bullied.
It was a timely day for one of my patients. His sexuality is still mythical, from what I can tell. But he's an easy target for bullies. In fact, I'm pretty sure I knew this kid in high school - we all did. Introverted, sensitive, socially awkward. Keeps to himself, so there's no one to stick up for him. Doesn't fight back, so he just keeps taking it.
Until, one day, he won't. I'm worried about what that means.
My hope is that he'll use therapy, learn to say, "Yeah, you people are insecure, and fuck you all, I'm fine," and get on with his life (remember when I said I knew this kid in high school? I still know this kid as an adult. He's done quite well for himself). But there's other possibilities. At best, he limps along, holds it together, emerges on the other side intact. At worst? That's the stuff that keeps shrinks and parents up at night. The kids that externalize take guns to school in their trenchcoats and shoot up the school. The kids that take it to heart? Kill themselves.
I don't like either of those options.
So, today, on purple-people-against-hate-and-bullying day, I gave him the "It gets better" talk. The "everyone in high school (even the kid you think is perfect) feels bad about themselves and awkward sometimes". I say, do you believe me? He says, no. I say, then I'll have to keep telling you. Don't give me words, give me proof, he says. I think about this, and then I tell him, "Look. I'm in 26th grade. I survived. Every one of us survived. It wasn't easy for any of us. I promise you, it will get better."
I still don't think he believed me.
When did I become "that" grown-up?
I'm not one for cheesy pep talks, really. Especially not in therapy. But it seemed to fit today. I don't know if he heard it, but I really wanted to tell him, I'm here for you. I really wanted to give him some hope.
Because, no matter what the bullies say - whether they're in the locker room or the boardroom - just because someone says something, especially something meant to keep you down, doesn't mean it's true.
Just keep moving. It really does get better.