Amazing Kids! Magazine

People Watching

By Lizzie Feeney


“Kaylah, you can tell me what’s wrong. You don’t need to…”

The woman in front of me continued talking, her tendrils of black hair swaying as her mouth moved. But, unbeknownst to her, my mind was clouded with an expansive fog. It seeped through the corners of my thoughts, latching on to my conscious, not seeming to want to let go. The close rapport that we shared with each other was now on a tightrope, swaying dangerously between good and bad. My eyes drifted around the room, flitting over to the large windowsill, through the crystal glass, and out across the bustling street. Watching the various people go by, each passing, unknowing of the anguish that took place no more than 20 feet away. This seemed to be a common pastime as I sit in the room “people watching,” as I liked to call it.

My eyes soon drifted over the various diplomas hung delicately on the wall above where I sat. Flying over the shelves on the towering bookcase, words passed by quickly, spitting phrases such as The Teenage Guide to Eating Disorders or Life Without My ED. Posters dangled from precariously placed tacks, large and bold font screaming, “You are not your disorder” and “Your weight is just a number.” Everything seemed to be a jumbled mess of detail that I could not understand, a sky of endless stars I could not fathom.

I knew what I was supposed to do, to spill the feelings that I kept locked away. But I did not want to. I wished to be outside, in my room, listening to music. To be a normal girl, with a normal life. But instead, it seemed that that was not to happen, and I was not happy about that. I was steadfast in my way; I was determined to not speak, to keep the wall that I had spent so long building up strong.

She continued to talk, a soothing tone spreading through the room, “You know that you don’t have to carry this all on your own shoulders. It’s okay to ask people for help.”

As she continued, my chest tightened. A familiar feeling crept through my body, and I braced for what was soon to come. My throat seemed to close up, and my bony hands began to shake uncontrollably, creating a light tapping noise against the fiber of the couch. A tidal wave of emotion was nearing, a surging force of imminent feelings that I didn’t think I could hold back.

The tension in the room was thick, a silence stretching for what seemed like an eternity. Neither of us was brave enough to shatter the pause that had taken effect, letting the two of us bask in the stillness that had become.

As the wave neared closer, the floodgates opened, releasing the emotions that had been oppressed for so very long. A rush of anger, sadness, jealousy, and all the various raging feelings rushed through me, each fighting for its way out. Be strong; stay together, I spoke to myself.

My body began to shake at an increasing rate, my feet tapping incessantly against the plastic chair, my fingers unable to control themselves; and my lips quivered against each other. My mind was reeling, thoughts urgently making their way to my consciousness. You can’t cry here. You’ve never cried in therapy. She’ll think your weak. You shouldn’t burden her with your own feelings. Be strong for once in your life. Don’t, don’t, don’t…

But seemingly my mind could not conquer my body, and my world seemed to come crashing down as a single tear splashed against my pale skin. It seemed as though once one trickled down, I did not have any control. Drips turned into streams as the water trailed down my cheeks, each taking a new and different path down my skin. I could feel the eyes of Dr. Fischer watching me, and as I slowly looked up, tears still streaming down my cheeks, I could see that she had a growing smile painted across her face. My eyebrows furrowed, confusion evident in my face at her expression. She seemed to be mocking me, my thoughts creating her action to be one of cruelness. Her face changed, going from frail happiness to pity, laced with hints of empathy. She crossed her legs across her chairs and breathed in a deep breath.

“You know, Kaylah, each person out there,” she pointed, finger leading me to the people roaming outside, “each of them has a story. Each of them struggles; each of them feels pain; each has bad days. When you look out that window, you’re seeing hundreds of different untold stories. Yes, they are different people out there. But do you want to know the real difference between you and those people? The reason why you’re in here and not out there? It’s because you chose to look at the world a different way. Whether that be a good thing or not, we’ll see. But you decide to carry the weight of your world on your shoulders, and even if you don’t like it, it will someday be too much of a burden, and crush you.”

I watched along, seeing as the divergent arrays of people plodded outside the glass. Women talking on the phone in what seemed to be rushed voices, men with stoic faces staring down at the pavement. It’s like people watching. A voice whispered deep inside my thoughts. A silence fell upon the room once again, a pregnant pause craving for a voice. My tears seemed to be quenched, leaving my eyes ringed with a light red pigment. Though there was so much I longed to say, my mouth remained sealed.

She continued, “It is your choice to fix that. Not mine, not them,” she nodded towards the oak door, where my parents were sitting outside, “not your friends, yours. It’s all up to you whether or not you want to change. You could be stuck in here forever, wasting away at borrowed time, or you could be out with them.” I could be stuck here people watching, that same voice spoke out to me.

I knew, in the vast and extensive space of my brain, that she was right. I knew that what she spoke of was true and that it was all up to me. I could sit in this room for days on end, waiting for the time that somebody would save me from myself. But it was me who had to make the choice to be saved. It seemed to be clearer now, a spout of light in the abyss of black. In order for my wounds to heal, I had to take control of my life. I must stop expecting myself to be able to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I needed to make a decision, for I no longer wished to be stuck people watching.