Shadow self

We are both afraid.
I am afraid you are going to do it.
And you are afraid of doing it.
I am afraid I am not doing enough.
You are afraid you have done all you can . . .
to stop you, from killing yourself.

I stand in the doorway.
You are sitting on the bed,
toying with a bathrobe-tie knotted in a noose.

You have been slamming doors, yelling, refusing to listen and telling everyone and anyone to fuck off.
You need attention, but cannot ask for it. 
You get it by pushing everyone away . . .
It is your way of staying in control.

But now, you just sit there, in silence.
I break it by asking . . .
You respond.
I ask again.
You respond.
You say, “I don’t trust anyone.”
Why would you trust me?
And yet, after five awkward minutes, you talk.

You tell me:

about your three kids.
You seem too young.

about the relentless name-calling in high school.
You start to cry.

about cutting off your children because of who you have become and do not want to influence them.
You are struggling to formulate the words.

about putting on that fucking dress and going all out on social media.
You get violently angry.

about loving to look pretty and smell pretty, especially smelling pretty.
You speak in a soft, longing tone, saturated with desire.

about killing the pain with drugs
You rub your soot-stained hands with which you crushed your Meth pipe.

I ask what should happen next.
You don’t have an answer.
I don’t have an answer because you told me not to give you an ultimatum.
You sob and say, “I should just be the fucking man I am supposed to be.”
It doesn’t seem like an answer.

An hour goes by and I am done, numbed by your pain.
You are done too, and decide to go to the hospital.
The next morning you are back, and by the evening it is the two of us again. 
This time we are sitting across from each other. 
You seem tired, and wearily the conversation starts to repeat itself. 
You hand me a ringed binder —your diary you tell me—and ask me to read. 
I read the first 20 pages and feel your struggle, your agony, your remorse, your deep desire for love, your inability to get out of what you’re into.
You nod off, fade in and out, and then you tell me about the fentanyl. 

I call 911. 

“Fire, police or ambulance?” 

I answer all the questions and keep prodding you awake.
Police and paramedics arrive and this time you are admitted. 
You call me the next day and tell me you slept for 24 hours.
The day after that you are back.
Wearing your dress.