The Walls Were Yellow

The walls were yellow with scattered black rubber scuffs, one directly in front of me, a couple behind the office chair. There was an old cobweb up in the left hand corner of the doorframe, fluttering in the breeze of the whirring air conditioner. A DSM-5 book judged me from its place on an IKEA “some assembly required” bookshelf, and a pair of children smiled at me from a picture frame sitting on her desk. The air smelled stale and ancient, like it had been sitting here, unbreathed, for thousands of years. The tissue box next to me seemed to be the centerpiece of the room, glowing and red, delicately patterned, vibrant. A vase held nothing but air and I began to wonder from whom she was expecting flowers, but shook the thought because it made me feel even more alone. The room itself seemed to be shrinking. With every breath I took, it squeezed in more around me. My legs started bouncing rapidly, in unison with my heartbeat, and my stomach began to churn and sway. “Shut up!” I thought to myself, “Stop talking to me! I don’t need you!” to which he would reply, “Of course you do.” I clicked the volume button on the side of my phone over and over, trying to drown him out, trying to get lost, but eventually, I couldn’t play the music any louder and he just raised his voice to a screamed threat. “You are nothing without me! You won’t survive without me! There is no ‘without me’!” I held onto the arms of my chair, fingers clamped tightly, as if I would be swept away if I let go. My legs continued to bounce, my music continued to blare, the cobweb continued to flutter. I shut my eyes so tightly I could see patterns and reflections and memories from earlier in the day. The next thing I knew, I heard the bell ring and I realized I needed to go back to class. I unhitched my hands from their lifeline and began to sit up straight in my chair. He had gone away for now, and I could go on with my life. Relief washed over me, even though I knew he’d be back to paralyze me once again.

It was in my school counselor’s office that I felt more alone than I had in my entire life. And yet, I continue to go back again and again because I’d rather feel alone and be able to feel every feeling in its extremities than to be surrounded by other kids, stifling the emotions I really feel. When I get scared, I go there. When I get sad, I go there. When I get mad, I go there. I’m there so often, I can describe to you the little knick in the right arm of the chair that my fingers have traced over millions of times. I have become friends with the random scuffs on the wall and the frigid yellow paint beams at me condescendingly. And yet, I go back. Feeling such strong emotions, an event that used to scare me, now brings me comfort. I feel safe when I embrace every part of me, every ugly part of me, and at school, this room is the only place I can do so.

So while a great deal of my experiences in this room have been the result of sadness, loneliness, or fear, I have never left not feeling a new sense of pride in myself for addressing and challenging the darkest parts of myself. In this room, I may feel alone and strange, but never shameful. The time I have spent here has included some of the most valuable learning experiences I have had at Prospect High School, and for that I am grateful.