I saw the cuts on your arms immediately. I was in the back of the long line during a busy lunch rush, and as I was surveying the menu, I peeked at you and noticed the cuts and the scars. As I stood in line I debated if I should say something to you. And then I debated WHAT I would say to you. "You're beautiful" seemed to cliche or fake. "You shouldn't do that" seemed too much.
When it was my turn to order, you switched out with your coworker. You weren't serving me. But still, you were behind the counter, cashing people out. I kept debating.
And yet again when it came time for me to pay for my meal, you swapped out again.
I sat in the restaurant and ate my salad, again debating whether or not I should speak up.
I didn't. I finished my salad and walked out the door.
I feel very ashamed and guilty. What was I so afraid of? I shouldn't have remained silent. What if everyone around you is remaining silent? What if no one is speaking up?
I still am not sure what I would have said to you, should I have had the courage to actually say something. Which is strange, because I've had talks like this to teenagers before. The difference is that I knew those teenagers. So, I imagine that if I did actually know you, I would have said something like this:
Whatever it is going on in your life, it's clear that it is giving you great anxiety. And to quiet that anxiety, you find relief in cutting yourself. You aren't alone. You are surrounded by people who are challenged by anxiety, depression, anger, self esteem issues. Some turn to destructive behavior- drugs, alcohol, self harm. But harming yourself does nothing. Maybe for a moment or two, you feel better, or relieved. But it is not a permanent fix, and you are not doing yourself any good. The battles going on in your mind will not be put to rest by hurting yourself.
There is a future for you, whether you can see it now or not. I can't tell you what that future looks like or where your life will take you, but I can tell you that if you keep harming yourself, you are going to miss out on so much. You can't fight this alone- there are people who can help you. Therapists, counselors, doctors- they all want to see you have a future. And your future self well thank you, too, for putting down the weapons and taking care of yourself.
Who am I to tell you these things? Why do I care so much about a random teenage girl who works at Subway? I once thought that things like "life is so beautiful!" and "one day you will find peace" were loads of crap. I didn't believe it. I couldn't imagine a future for myself. I just assumed that I would always be miserable.
I was wrong. I overcame it. And boy, am I glad that I did, because life is pretty fabulous. It's a shame I spent so many years fighting against it, and being afraid of it. I can't take back those years. You can. You can stop now. You can beat this, you can overcome, and you can survive.
I'm sorry that I didn't say anything that day. I pray that someone does, and that you listen. I pray that you find your peace.