The Power of Words
I was 16 years old when I learned the power of words. I was at SpringHill Camp doing a Teen Service Team (TST) program, having the time of my life and making some of the best friends with whom I still remain close with today. I had gone to camp there for the past two years, but this was my first time going alone and I was a little apprehensive. The first day was amazing. We all got to know each other and connected right away. We had fun at our assigned stations and looked forward to the 2 ½ weeks that awaited us. I believe in the power of words, the friends I made at SpringHill taught me this.
On the morning of our third day one of the girls I had grown closest to, Jessica, told me some startling news:
“I’m a cutter, I tried to kill myself two weeks ago and have been at a rehab center until two days before I came here.”
I was speechless. Her words pierced my skin like blades had pierced hers. Then it became easier to believe. It was 90° and she wore jeans and long sleeves. She always talked about her friends at the hospital. People would come three times during the day to talk to her. I was so surprised; I tried to take myself out of the picture. I did not want to be close to her. I had never been around suicide much and I was grateful for that. The fact that someone could in fact take their own life scared me. I did not want to associate with this girl who was obviously deeply disturbed. Why was this girl telling me this? She could have easily gone to one of the other girls or counselors and told them her story. Why me?
It wasn’t more than two days later I realized I was being ridiculous. She wasn’t “this girl”. She was Jessica, my best friend. We had fun before I knew she was a cutter so why couldn’t we still be friends? We could. It was really hard, to be there for her, but she needed me. She, for some reason, saw something in me that she found comforting. It was hard for me at first but in time we fell back into our friendship. I was able to talk about her experiences with her and try to help her through a difficult time in her life.
“You’re supposed to be my best friend, Lauren, just give it to me. I’m not going to hurt myself.” Her cold words still ring in my mind. The counselors knew she had a problem so they searched her things and took her razors. In the shower, she begged to borrow mine. I don’t know if Jessica wanted to cut or shave that day and may never know. She was right; I was supposed to be her best friend, so I could not give into her pressure.
Jessica still calls me even though it has been a year since we’ve seen each other. Often it is just to say hi, but more times than not her calls wake me up. She still has a problem, but I’ll always be there for her to talk to. I’ll always listen and when she can’t talk she’ll just listen. In the beginning, I felt a lot of pressure. I didn’t know if I could ever help her, with me living on the other side of the state. Then, I realized all she needs is someone to talk to, and I can be that person. I often feel like I’m not doing anything, but I am. Sometimes kind words and hearing from someone you love is all it takes to make you feel better.
This is why I believe in the power of words. Jessica’s words made me want to draw away from her. My words continue to be helpful to her to this day.
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