“Tell me where it hurts,” he says, ushering me into his office, a room that looks more like a butterfly garden. Blues and Monarchs flutter around the bushes in planters around his desk. Behind his desk chair, an open glass door leads to an outdoor garden almost the same size as his office.
I take a seat in the only chair in the room, a stiff-backed aluminum Goodwill type chair that’s probably part of a set with a matching Formica-topped kitchen table. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, the reason you’re here, of course.” He leans so far back in his desk chair that I’m afraid he’s going to fall over. “Tell me what is bugging you.”
One particular blue butterfly taking a tour of the office distracts me.
Teacher clears his throat, “My dear, what’s bothering you?”
“I guess nothing, really.” Standing up, I walk closer to the bushes. “This blue one is beautiful,” I say.
“A Miami Blue,” he says. “They’re almost extinct.”
“Oh.” The realization pulls me back and reminds me of why I came to see my teacher. “You told us to come talk to you if we ever had any problems.”
He nods, remaining quiet. When I don’t say anything, “My dear, your pain gets in the way when you talk to me.” He gets up from his chair and approaches me, palms up. “Talk about it and you will see how putting the pain and judgment out there gets it out of the way. Why hold it in, really? This life it too short to let crap chafe at you.”
In an uncharacteristic teacher-move, he tugs at his pants as if his underwear had slipped out of position.
I hold back a gasp.
“Why clench up?” he says. “How did that make you feel?”
“Really, sir?” When he nods, “um, that was kinda uncomfortable, seeing a teacher tug at his underwear.”
“Uncomfortable, hmm. Thank you for being honest; that’s a great start.” He leans on his desk and continues. “Now, back to the topic. What do you do when something really bothers you?”
“Nothing, I guess. I just set it aside and get past it.”
“How about when it really hurts?”
“Same, I guess.”
“Not good. You need to cry, get it out there, heal it, then let it go.”
“Well, sir, that’s all well and good, but most times it’s not easy, letting go, I mean. Especially when it really hurts.”
He nods, tapping a finger repetitively on his face. “I forget how hard it is to be human. All we can do is encourage you to look past the pain –”
My confusion stops him briefly.
“—but to do that, you have to let yourself feel it.”
I don’t think he understands how traumatic that can be to those of us still living life in this three-dimensional plane.
“Remember that time with me?” The memory cuts so deep I can’t even speak about it. “I tried to get past it. I tried to put it behind me. It didn’t work.”
“Oh no. You’ve never put it behind you. You tried to forget it, but you never let yourself feel it.”
My soul is feeling as chafed as he’d felt earlier. I stand to excuse myself from the room. “I’m sorry I bothered you, sir.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder and pushes me back down.
“This life is all about feeling, my dear. If you hide your feelings, your life becomes as empty as … well, mine was.” He pauses briefly, looking past me as if the memory pulled him away from me.
When I shuffle in my seat, my movement pulls him back to me.
“You need to feel the pain. Cry when the people you love pass this life. Let yourself hurt when people you thought loved you instead hurt you in the worst possible way. Let yourself remember what hurts you most. Only by accepting the hurt will you be able to grow past the pain.”
But this shit in my life is so years-ago, so childish. I’m a grown woman now.
“It still has all of you,” he enters my thoughts. “Don’t make your pain immortal, dear Writer. Learn what it is and work through it. Think about it, really. What hurts you most?”
Remembering the anger I felt toward the man who sat in front of me on the last flight I took, the anger starts to boil again. He reclined his seat all the way, leaving me with barely any room to move. “I hate inconsiderate people,” I say.
“No, I hate people who won’t acknowledge that I’m a person with a soul just like them. I hate people who bury me in the background, who don’t allow me to voice my opinion.”
“Kinda like ‘Putting Baby in a corner?’”
My head shoots up from my pity-me posture at the reference to my favorite movie. “Uh, yeah, exactly. Nobody puts Writer in a corner!”
Teacher smiles, walking away from me, his hand stroking his non-existent beard. “You’re angry at one man from an airplane?” he says. The intrusion into my thoughts doesn’t surprise me anymore. “Is that all?”
“No. I remember the pain of being ignored. Calls not returned. Love not shared. Existence not acknowledged.”
“So, you hate it when your existence is denied?” He holds his hand out and the Miami Blue settles on his wrist as he puts my pain into one simple idea.
“Yeah, I guess. If I give my heart and the love isn’t returned, I guess that means I don’t exist to that person, but it’s not just that. Like the Miami Blue, I hate the thought that I’ll live a full life but no one will remember I was ever here.”
“Hmm,” he says, leaning into a purple leather wingback chair that has appeared in his office.
Suddenly, I’m lying on a matching leather couch.
“How does that make you feel?” he says, his hands scratching furtively onto a notepad. He tucks the pen back into the breast pocket of his brilliantly blue dress shirt.
“It makes me feel like crap.”
He pops the pen back out of his pocket and returns to his secretive writing. “Hmm. So what do you want to do?”
I’ve never been asked that question. Usually, people tell me to get over it. “I want to kick walls and rip through his clothes.”
“You said ‘his,’ is this still the man in the airplane?”
“Uh, no. I guess I was talking about somebody else, about that one guy who ripped my heart and threw me away. Well, two guys did that. The second wants to get back in my life.”
“And that makes you feel ….?” he says in a decidedly German-sounding accent.
Susceptible. Pissed. Hurt. Stupid. … and then I cry because I’ve never cried about it before.
“Say the words, my dear. Acknowledge your feelings.”
“I’ve always tried to make it easier for him. He left me, damn it. Now he wants back in my life. Fuck him. Let him fuck up his own life. Leave me alone.”
“Why don’t you tell him?”
“Because I loved him once, and it’s not right to be that angry. I mean the goal is to love everyone, right? I remember what he did for me once, saved me from another bad relationship, but then he just repeated it in his own way.”
This line of conversation is too uncomfortable.
“Hey, weren’t we talking about something else?”
“We were talking about being human. About living your life. So, this guy, what bothers you about this recent development?”
Behind me, his pencil scratches away at his notepad. “He won’t let me live my life my way. I am who I’ve become after all of these years, but he still thinks I’m the girl he left.”
“So he’s not acknowledging your individuality?”
“So, why don’t you tell him that. Face-to-face. Tell him what you really want.”
Turning on my side, facing the wall away from the garden and the butterflies, “Because, what if he stops liking me?”
“I am confused. Do you want him back in your life?”
“Then why do you care if he stops liking you?”
My answer is so soft and hidden so well against my arm that I have to repeat it for him. “I don’t know, sir.”
I hear something being thrown onto the desk then the chair rocks as if it’s empty. The next thing I know, Teacher is sitting behind me on the couch, his hand on my shoulder. “I think there’s a hole in your heart that still needs mending,” he says softly. “Until you heal yourself, heal your true light, you will be unable to see the light in others.”
Slowly, my tears fall onto the couch.
“Live your life, my dear. It’s too short to let others fuck with it.”
The counseling session continued for several days. I’m much better now.
Namaste, my friends. Always yours,
The Dragonfly’s Student