“What you’re going through reminds me of what happened to me when I was in sixth grade”
aybe there’s a ninth-grade teacher that’s the type… oh, I know, Miss Lev. Yes! She’s so the type!”
“Maybe,” I consider.
Miss Lev has been teaching ninth-grade Navi in our school for at least 15 years. Everyone loves her. She gives equal attention to everyone and makes all the girls feel special. She’s warm and soft-spoken, yet wise and full of experience. I remember how she brought us hot cocoa one day when it was especially cold and got all the girls in the class to participate — even the girls who were academically challenged.
“Okay, fine,” I say. “So when should I go to speak to her?”
“How about lunchtime?” Chavala suggests. “It’s in 15 minutes.”
“What?!” I jump up. “How did an hour and a half pass?”
Then I realize that Chavala missed two periods for me!
I give her a hug. “I can’t believe you would skip class for me, you’re such a conscientious student!”
“Of course,” she says, “you’re worth it. You know,” Chavala says, “what you’re going through reminds me of what happened to me when I was in sixth grade.”
“What! You had the same thing?”
“No, I had a fear of fire. I don’t know where it came from, but it ended up interfering with my life because I couldn’t be in the kitchen when any flame was on, and I ended up going outside every time my mother turned on the stove. I was terrified it would cause a fire, and I would be trapped. My parents ended up taking me to therapy, and baruch Hashem I got past it.”
“Wow!” Now I needed time to digest what Chavala just told me. I’ve known her for years. But I never knew about her phobia or that she’d been in therapy.
I’M back in the library post-discussion. I’ve never felt so validated and understood. Miss Lev is one of those people who wouldn’t know how to make someone feel uncomfortable if she tried.
I need to take this period off, just to digest it all. I can ask Miss Lev to take care of the periods that I cut and also those that Chavala cut.
After I came back from Miss Lev, Chavala gave me a caramel chocolate and an ice cappuccino, “for being so courageous,” so I’m sipping my beverage and just thinking.
She didn’t have a straight-out answer, but she gave me pointers to help in the discussion with my parents (we both decided that I should be the one to broach it). We also discussed different possible reactions they may have. “You have to expect them to be against the idea in the beginning,” she explained. “No parent likes to face the fact that their child is in pain and needs therapy.”
There’s a knot in my stomach but I feel so much better.
If yesterday there was a maze in front of me, today there’s a path. It may be strewn with stones and ups and downs, but at least I have direction.
“It’s all that homework they give you,” my father claims. “If you didn’t have that stress, everything would be fine.”
“I think it’s just a teenage thing,” my mother states. “I also got anxious as a teen. It’s very normal.”
If I hadn’t been prepared for this, I would’ve drowned in this tidal wave of opposition. Even so, there’s a darkness that envelopes my heart. I feel so hopeless. I’ll never get help. But then I think: You have to remember that they care. It will take them time to accept the situation.
I decide to broach the topic again tomorrow.
I know my parents are warming up to the idea when I see my mother locking herself in her room to whisper frantically on the phone.
She’s trying to find any solution that can take away this problem. It’s a last-ditch attempt at denial. I feel bad for my parents because the whole situation is a shock for them.
I sit down to do homework, which I haven’t been good at doing for a while. Suddenly I think, I haven’t had any crazy thoughts in the past couple of days… maybe my parents are right?
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 961)
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