When your child wants to die, there is a toll we, the people closest to her, must pay everyday. And the toll is taken in a variety of different ways but what remains constant is that the toll taking depletes. The toll taking slows everything down. The toll taking is a pain in the ass. The toll taking sucks salty donkey balls. I really don’t know if donkey balls are salty but I like the alliteration so it stays.
There is the toll it takes on a marriage. Your spouse and you try everyday to be there for each other, to love each other through the pain of watching your child self destruct but somedays it’s too much. Your once fun loving relationship has turned into the hell you are now living with each other. When you look into each other’s eyes, where you once saw passion, love, lust, now you just see tears and fatigue. Where you would once caress each other and feel tingles of pleasure, now you only collapse into one another and beg the other to hold you upright for another five minutes. The thought of intimacy is replaced with the thought of sleep. You start to take the pain out on each other, dig into each other because you have to blame somebody and you can’t take it out on your child. Where you were once partners in love you are now sparring partners plunging the spear deeper into the other’s heart because you can’t bear the pain inside any longer. And you survive somehow and you promise each other it will get better and you try your hardest to get back to the love and the lust but the toll taker keeps demanding more and you just don’t have enough left inside. And you cry everyday in secret for the life you wanted to live and the love you wanted to have. And you hope your spouse will forgive you all your trespasses and continue to love you in spite of it all.
There is the toll it takes on your friendships for surely your friends are sick and tired of hearing about all your woes and want you to just buck up already. And you feel guilty every time you cancel plans, don’t answer a text or call, or forget to ask simple questions such as, how are you doing. Where you were once the life of the party and the one to make everyone laugh and the one to listen to everyone’s problems, now you just want to crawl inside your hobbit hole and bolt the door tightly shut. You just simply don’t have the energy to do any of it anymore because the damn tolls are so expensive and you have nothing left in your spare change container to give. And you’re sure that nobody wants to be around your sorry self and so you put yourself away until people stop texting and calling. And you think that maybe once it’s quiet the toll booth will close and you can save up some more reserve and venture out on the road again. But it’s never quiet long enough because that damn toll taker is relentless and is obviously being paid overtime. And so you just hope your friends understand and will come back to you someday when you are ready.
There’s the toll that it takes on your work. You can’t focus on anything but when the next toll needs to be collected so your work suffers. Where you were once a great therapist who gave her students her undivided attention, you are now a blank, empty vessel who just wants to make it through the day with some spare change. You have to leave early whenever the school calls to pick up your child because she’s cut herself or said she wants to hurt herself and you’re sure that the toll taker is taking all your sick days as well. You sit in meetings and want to cry because you want someone to tell you how they are going to help your child and that they have a plan and it’s all going to be ok but instead you are the one telling this to another parent. And your reserves run ever dry as the toll taker demands another 50 cents. And you find yourself counting the minutes until the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the year and you are so sorry for feeling this way but the damn tolls are just too expensive these days.
There is the toll it takes on the rest of your family, your parents, your sister, your other child. You just can’t talk about it anymore, you can’t answer their questions, you can’t do it anymore. And you wish they could just see inside you instead of having to ask you everything but they can’t and so you are short with them, you snap at them, you make them feel bad. You want to scream at them to stop asking you if you are seeing someone and talking about all of this because right now there are only so many appointments that can fit into one week and the goddamn toll taker is still standing with his hand outstretched to take the last penny you have. And you love your family, you’re sure of it and you know they want to help but what you really want is to not talk about it, to not keep reopening that gaping wound and see the blood pour out. Because that’s just one more for the toll taker and pretty soon you’ll be scraping the bottom of your car to find something to give him.
I really have nothing against toll booths or toll takers, everybody has to do something.