Thank You

What happened to me? the deathly skinny girl dressed in all black wondered to herself as she entered the psychologist's office nervously. She sat down quietly in the ugly maroon chair and fidgeted with her hair.
"Are you nervous?" the psychologist asked.
Before answering the girl looked at the woman facing her. She seemed to be a beautiful young lady with a cheery smile. What problems could she ever have? the girl wondered.
"Yea, I guess." the girl mumbled while blowing a bubble with her gum.
"So," the woman said while flipping through some papers, "Charlotte, you've never been to a therapist of any kind before?" she asked earnestly.
"No," Charlotte answered while glancing around the room. What is this a playground? She has a sand box, Barbies, children's books. How on God's earth is she going to help me?
"Ok, well I'm Julie, although I'm sure you knew that." she added with a smile.
Charlotte was still silently evaluating the room. I hope she does make me play any stupid board games. God what kind of board games are these? Moods and Their Effects? That's just ridiculous.
"Ok, so what do you want to talk about?" Julie asked looking at the girl.
Charlotte shrugged in response. I am not going to tell her my life story no matter what my parents say.
"Ok." Julie paused for a second to look through Charlotte's chart again. "Well, we can talk about anything really. I mean we could start with your cutting. or suicide attempts. or something totally unrelated if you want."
Charlotte shrugged again.
Julie sighed. It had been a long time since she started a new case and dealt with some one who didn't want to be helped. "Well, is there anything you want to know about me?"
Charlotte thought for a moment. Huh, I could be so rude right now. Ask all the questions people hate to be asked. How much do you weigh? How old are you? She glanced toward Julie and wondered what Julie was like as a teenager. Did she have problems? Were her parents like mine? Does she have any experience suffering through pain like mine or is her only experience from a textbook? Finally, she decided on a question.
"Why did you decide to become a psychologist?" Charlotte asked smugly. She was proud of herself for basically setting a trap. If she answers honestly maybe it will take the whole session. If not, then I shouldn't have to answer any of her questions.
Julie pondered for a moment and stared at the girl, debating whether or not to answer the question honestly. It had been so long since she had talked about her past, she had hoped it was sealed her it inside herself forever. As Julie was thinking, Charlotte was gazing at her intensely. What bullshit lie is going to tell me? Or is she just going to avoid the question completely? Why should I be comfortable talking to her if she won't even talk to me?
"Well," Julie started with her eyes looking at the floor, "it's a long story that I haven't really told any of this in a long time and I've never told it to any of my patients before..." She paused momentarily, but just long enough for Charlotte to interrupt.
"Riiiiiiiiiight. Ya know what. Whatever, I don't care. But don't expect me to tell ya all my crap if you won't even answer one fucking question."
"Maybe you should let me finish." Julie said sternly while looking Charlotte up and down. "If you're going to be nasty, I am not going to going to bother to answer your question. I have no obligation to answer you or even to ask you if you had any questions about me in the first place." More kindly and quietly she continued, "I am willing to talk to you and share with you, but I have to know that you're going to listen."
Charlotte repositioned herself in her chair so that she was leaning towards Julie. Maybe I misjudged this chick.
"Ok. I'll listen," she responded.
Julie took a deep breath and got this somewhat glazed over look in her eyes, which intrigued Charlotte even more. Maybe she does have a secret past. Maybe she's an orphan who was adopted by an extremely rich couple. Or maybe she was a princess whose family was kicked off the throne. Or maybe.
Julie disrupted Charlotte's thoughts by beginning to speak, "When I was about. your age actually, I went through a lot of stuff. My parents separated and my mom turned into a complete witch. She screamed at me all the time. Constantly calling me stupid and telling me I was a failure like my father. By the time I was 12 I had started slitting my wrists everyday. Sometimes just as a way to release the pain and other times in an attempt to commit suicide." She paused for a second as if repeating this was more than she could bear. For a moment it appeared as though she might cry, but she took a deep breath and continued on. "My mom found out and she sent me to a therapist, but I barely even spoke a word to him and when I did all I told him was lies." She quickly added, "I don't mean that in any way to relate to you. I'm not trying to preach here. I'm just telling you the truth."
Charlotte nodded. Wow, I can't believe she went through all of this crap and she was only twelve. I mean at least I'm -- Her thoughts were again interrupted by the sound of Julie's voice.
"When I was 13 I tried my first joint and for the next year I did drugs and drank every chance I got. It was the perfect escape from my reality, which was day after day of pain. Later that year I ran away with my boyfriend for a month. We slept on park benches and our only meals were garbage scraps. We spent every cent on drugs. By the time I had returned home my mom was really worried and enrolled me in rehab. For the next 4 years of my life I was in and out of rehabs, mental hospitals, outpatient facilities. I failed two grades of school because I was absent so much. One day I just realized that I wasn't meant to die. I mean obviously with how I was treating my body, I should've died by now. With all my attempts of suicide and drug overdoses, it was ridiculous that I had lived." she paused for a second to wipe a tear from her eye and resumed. "So for a week or so I pondered why I hadn't died. What could my life possibly be worth? I talked to my therapist and she helped me find one reason to live. She told me all the time, 'You may have a million reasons why you want to die, but you only need one reason to make life worth it.' but I hadn't even really thought about what she said until then. Finally, I discovered that my goal in life was to get better so I could help others in my situation. I wasn't sure at that point how I wanted to help them, but I was determined to succeed. So when I actually started trying to find reasons to live and other ways to cope with my pain, I got better. Slowly. I mean it took years before I was down to only one therapy session a week, but I did it. And I felt good accomplishing something. Once I started school again, I worked my butt off so I could get into college and I realized that the best way to help people was to become a therapist," Julie stopped somewhat suddenly.
Charlotte couldn't tell if there was more to the story or not. So she continued listening and at the same time thinking about all the things Julie had just said. She had it so much worse than me. I mean my parents don't yell at me like that. And I'm not a drug addict. And I can think of at least one reason to live. Can't I? At that moment Charlotte burst into tears. Julie squatted in front of her holding a box of tissues and crying herself. While taking a tissue, Charlotte lowered herself to the floor and gave Julie a hug. There they were two people who had only met moments ago, but understood each other perfectly. They were practically mirror images of each other, sitting on the floor crying together. It was as if both of them had needed something for so long. Some one to just validate their life in the smallest way.
At the exact same time they both looked into each other's deep blue eyes and simply said, "Thank You."