The day I arrived at the mental facility, the last thing I thought was ‘I wonder if there are any cute guys.” I don’t think these places have a location status on Tinder. I can imagine that status, “Hannah is located within 2 miles of you at the local mental hospital.” However, I did meet a guy, who was very ill at the time,and his scars told his story. His name was Jared, and we didn’t fall in love with each other, we fell in understanding with one another;two souls destined to meet, to help lift one another from the dirt under which they were so deeply buried. A type, and kind of a stretch of West Side Story; two kids from separate neighborhoods who were destined to collide right in the middle. This was our story.
When I got to mental facility, my knees were trembling, and my stomach felt as though it had fallen into a jar of acid. I was a 20 year old girl who was at the end of the road; no light, no future, just noisy darkness. Jared was a baseball player who was raised by a rough crew. I will never forget the day we were in the dining hall and his mother came to eat dinner with him for the first time. Out of shame she stormed out of the dining room. He sat there sobbing, not embarrassed in the least. He was accustomed to that behavior. A tear dripped down my face, because I knew he did not mean to do the things he had done to himself.
I became familiar with Jared, trying to coax him out of his shell. I heard stories of his life, which were surreal to me. He told me things that I will forever keep to myself. His life was different than mine, yet we ended up in the same place at the same time. Every night, at our mandatory ‘bed time’ we would catch each other looking across the hall, and we would make sad, funny faces. We acted like children who believed laughter was the only way to survive. However, his stories were far from childish thoughts, and his scars made it obvious. He would relentlessly encourage me, telling me how special I was, and that the future held something big for me. He motivated me to come alive with confidence. It was like I was his vessel into light.
The day I was released, I was filled with mixed emotions; fear, sadness, excitement, happiness and gratitude. Jared came to my door to say goodbye. I asked for his number, and he wrote it on a piece of paper. I told him I would contact him when he got out, that maybe I could help him get an athletic scholarship somewhere. Maybe in the distant future, when we were healed, I would watch a game, and sit next to his blonde, blue eyed, fake boobed girlfriend. He laughed, but it was a laugh filled with pain. He looked at me and placed his hand on my shoulder. I had tears in my eyes, because without one word exchanged I knew what he was silently saying to me. Through his eyes, he was telling me…’that’s not going to happen Hannah’. I felt that truth, that hurt for months into my recovery.
As a woman, and I think we all can agree, diagnosed or not, God made us beautiful, and He sure as hell made us flawed. When someone crashes into your life, and tells you the things you need to hear, the words that have been missing from your life, it is more than love. It is a bond that will be sadly remembered and will always remain beneath the skin. I feel and I know that I will never be in a romantic relationship with Jared if I ever see him again. We had a brief and powerful experience together.
I have tried to reach out, but the closest I got was a dead phone line. I give him a lot of credit for who I am today. It was not love, it was courage that he gave to me. Thank you Jared for helping me breathe again. This story is for you.
Love, Hannah B.