"Brittney! The door is for you!"

There was a group of boys on my doorstep and as soon as I walked into view they started singing My Girl. They were so cute. And talented. Their voices split and blended in harmony. I thought about what a neat moment this could be if I was still a good girl. 

My parents stood off to the side grinning. I realized how long it had been since we had enjoyed something fun together. I wasn't good at fun anymore. 

There was also a sense of hope and vulnerability in their faces. How I wished for their sakes that this moment were a cure-all. That the moment they quit singing I could say, you know what? I think that did it! I feel all better now.

I have to admit that even with my lack of ability to feel, even I was charmed when one of the young men knelt before me as they were finishing up their song and presented me with a bouquet of flowers. I tried to act overly grateful, but didn't have to put up the front for long because they disappeared quickly down the front steps. 

They had infused the home with a sense of joy. Everything appeared brighter though I couldn't feel it. I hope it lasted for them awhile. They deserved it. I handed the flowers off to my mom. What a shame that such lovely little flowers would go to waste in my honor. They should have gone to a better girl. 

As I tromped up the stairs to my room, I heard my dad on the phone with his sister Marie. "Oh, hi! Yeah, we opened the door and there was a whole group of boys on the doorstep ready to serenade her. Yeah, it was pretty neat. No, we didn't call them. I think they just know she's been sad."


Random gifts appeared on the doorstep from time to time. I hated knowing I had deceived people to the point that they thought I needed demonstrations of love and kindness. If these people truly knew what was best, they would stay far away from me and let me rot without recognition. It's what I deserved.

Other moments that were hard to bear were when people were not private about their gifts. They would give me something truly meaningful and do their best to express how they hoped I would feel better, or their faith that I would.

But there were two areas where I felt I was taking the most advantage of people that made me feel truly wretched.

One or two women from church were aware of the situation in our home and quietly arranged a small circle of sisters who would bring our family dinner a few times a week. I tried to act gracious as their dishes came through the front door. They brought their very best, these sweet sisters from church. But it was a replacement for what my mom should be doing, all I had taken from her. And on top of that, I was being treated to marvelous meals. With every bite I ate myself deeper and deeper into hell.

Two phone calls and a visit made me feel particularly vile. They came from three different women I had always admired who I knew preferred their privacy. Each of them quietly opened up to tell me that they had suffered or were suffering from depression and would love to talk if I ever thought it would help. They were the kinds of conversations that would have caused the who-I-once-was me to embrace them, cry with them, and thank them from the bottom of my heart for telling me something so private. If only this were depression I was dealing with. There's no conversation that can rescue you once you're hell-bound. But because of who I once was, I was now taking advantage of the deepest expressions of kindness.

Next Chapter: Hair