Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heavy Days

A female student came up to me today. "Can I tell you something?" she asked. Something in her voice, the way she darted her eyes back and forth to see who was in earshot, told me this would be a heavy discussion. She fidgeted. Told me how she thought for a long time and decided it almost seemed like nothing, but sat weird in her stomach. "I feel creepy," she said. I felt like I understood.

It had to do with a man. A violation of the sort that makes you feel like you are crazy and wonder if perhaps you imagined the whole thing. Strange behavior. Simple things turned horribly wrong. She talked for awhile as my stomach churned and I fought back the urge to just hug her, the urge to bolt from the room. Something in my face must have betrayed the gravity of it all. "He's going to get in trouble now, isn't he? Bad trouble. I shouldn't have said anything. Do you promise not to tell?"

I looked her in the eyes and promised. The big lie I told today. What I should have said: It feels creepy because it is creepy. If it felt wrong and bad, that's because it was. He is going to get in trouble because he did something worthy of reprimand.

Instead, I just told her it would be ok and called my mom. And then I told the appropriate people what had happened. And I feel heavy.

I never imagined the weight a confidant would feel in such a situation. As if this now becomes my fault. But what comfort would my silence have brought instead? The best I can do is take note of the heft of this day and imagine the late nights of anxiety for this girl, what it must have taken for her to confide. I wonder what she left out, what she deemed unworthy of repeating or what secret horrors felt too unsafe. I think about the weight I carry and am thankful for it, because she no longer has it.

This is the most adult I've ever felt. Now I wait for the backwash.


kk said...
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PhillyKim said...

Wow, Katy. You must have really shown her that you are someone she could lean on. A great thing for sure.