“If I knew this could be considered therapy, I would have started seeing you sooner,” M says.
The late afternoon sun shines through the cladding boards and blazes the red maple leaves that surround the abandoned tobacco barn. I’m standing with one of my clients, a 15 year-old named M. She had suggested we go for a walk on the trails behind her house rather than sit in her bedroom. I do house calls and have been seeing M for nearly two months. Autumn’s warm, dry days followed by cool nights has resulted in a vivid display of crimson, gold and orange leaves amidst the evergreens that permeate these woods.
M asks me if it would be OK to have a cigarette. She’d already confided that she smoked. “I’ll allow this one time. In my experience,
it’s hard to feel what you’re feeling while you’re smoking.
Given that that’s part of the reason we see one another…” I say with a smile.
“But in all those old movies, you see the client and the therapist smoking together.”
“True. We didn’t know then what we now know. I assume you understand that it’s not good for your overall health.”
“Who doesn’t?” The sunlight now captures the smoke rising through the slats of the antique pinewood boards, and it appears more like mist rising.” We’re both quiet, mesmerized by the space and the light.
“How are you feeling?” I ask as she bends over to extinguish her cigarette on the bottom side of her sneaker.
She cocks her head and smiles. It’s new for me to see her face, let alone, her beautiful smile. She’s a petite and intelligent girl, dressed in baggy pants and a long sleeved flannel shirt. Her hair, recently died fuscia is long and hangs in her eyes most of the time. Her Mom had called about six weeks ago, desperate for someone to help her daughter, their family.
“Alright. I wish my parents would mind their own business more than they do.
Do they understand how hard I try?”
“I don’t know. They’re busy trying too.” She and I begin walking back towards the house. “But I know that they are concerned about you. You’ve done things that make them feel like you’re not safe. It’s their job to protect you.”
“I know. I know. It just sucks.” She says swinging her arms and walking beside me.
“What do you mean?”
“They ask me constantly about what I’ve eaten. They talk to the parents of my friends, checking up on me. They bring me to the doctor’s and make me expose my body every month.”
“You’ll be in a position soon to earn back their trust. You’re doing well. And you’ve always been more than the sum total of your broken parts.”
I look right at her and say, “You’re great, M.
I’ll miss seeing you.” Her mom, after weeks of searching, finally discovered a program that will accept their insurance and provides one on one, parent coaching, and group-work for the specific issues that M has. More than I can offer and what M really needs. I’m sad that I won’t be seeing her anymore, but relieved. She’s another wonderful teenager I’ve had the privilege to come to know.