Miki went out to lunch this afternoon. She asked me via text. I replied, saying that she could go but that she needed to be back by 15:00. She started muttering about 15:00 being really early and that she had asked Annie to look after the kids until 16:30. I reminded her that I was going to be home to sleep Kai at 11:00 and that I would be looking after the kids when Kai woke. There was no need – other than what she wanted – for Annie to stay. I also reminded her that she’d asked for permission and that I’d given it to her, within certain – what I considered fair – constraints. She could either go to lunch under those conditions or not.
She returned unusually early: 14:30. I was pleasantly surprised and even remarked on it to Miki. “Wow, you’re early. Well done.”
“Yeah, well, we only went to Spur down the road. Tania and I walked back.”
“You went with Tania?” I asked, annoyed. “You didn’t mention it was Tania you were going to lunch with.”
“It was during the day, and I was back early. What’s the problem?” She shot back at me.
“You know what the problem is. The less people from your past you left back in, especially people from the Bad Times, the better.”
“But you said you trusted me.” She was pushing back at me. I should have realized 7’teen had presented. Miki would’ve just let it go, but 7’teen likes to goad me.
“Yeah, I trust your judgment, but the that doesn’t mean I trust her, or any of your old friends.” I replied, oblivious to the change, and not seeing where this was going.
It went where all our emotional conversations with 7’teen go: to an argument, an emotional argument. I was getting irrationally angry, and 7’teen was fighting back, in tears, but still fighting. She stormed off into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
That did it; I banged open the door after here and yelled at her as she lay on the couch, crying. “Stop always banging the fucking doors. All the doors in this house are broken because you’re always banging them. If you bang another door, I’m going to rip them all off their doorframes.” I was angry.
She was frightened now, tears streaming down her face, her hands pushing herself up into the couch, trying to hide away from me.
7’teen left and Tooshie 5 presented, crying hysterically. Oh to hell with it, I thought to myself, just leave her be. I left the room with her sobbing behind me. She crawled over to the corner next to the cupboard and curled up into a sniveling ball. I should’ve felt some sympathy for her, or some compassion, but I couldn’t find any.
I went off, bathed Kai, fed Zee and Ryder, and organized the house for another early evening. I was exhausted. I checked in on Tooshie 5 every few minutes. She was still in the corner, sucking her thumb now. I wanted to reach out, and reassure her, I just didn’t have the energy.
Finally, minutes before it was time for me to put Kai to sleep, Miki returned.
“Oh God, my head hurts. Why am I in the corner?”
“7’teen and I argued. I shouted at her and Tooshie 5 came out.” I replied. “It was pretty tough going.”
Miki cleaned herself up and took Zee and Ryder to the lounge, letting me put Kai to sleep, and giving me some much needed peace and quiet.
The next morning Kiska woke up. Apparently Shafieq had woken before her, snacked on the leftovers in the fridge, typically leaving just enough to be useless to anyone. He should’ve finished them.
“Where’s 7’teen,” Kiska asked?
“What do you mean?”
“7’teen’s gone. She stays with me in our room, but she’s gone and her bed hasn’t been slept in.” Kiska explained.
My stomach turned. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Have you looked for her,” I asked.
“Yes, but no-one’s seen her this morning.”
I could feel my stomach tightening. I was starting to get a little worried. “Get Shane, go and look for her.”
“We’re looking everywhere.” Shane replied, presenting briefly.
I went through to the bathroom and found the following note on the bathroom counter:
Shit, I thought to myself: can Alters kill themselves? Is it possible? As I made breakfast for Kai, Zee and Ryder – Strawberry Pops all around – my sense of dread deepened. I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t know what yet.
Still no word from any of the girls by the time breakfast was completed. I started to feel overwhelmed. I crawled back into bed, pulled the covers over my head, I just wanted this nightmare to stop. My stomach was aching, my bowels felt loose and my heart was pounding. I didn’t want to lose 7’teen. I loved her. We argued all the time, she was always pushing my buttons, goading me into an argument and then escalating it as far as she could. But she was still part of Miki, a part that I’d grown to know and love. I would miss her; I knew I would. I would be heartbroken if she’d suicided.
It would mean another failure in a long line of failures on my part. Despite what everyone said, it is my responsibility to look after her, and all her Alters, make sure everyone stayed safe and slowly got better. Losing one to suicide was impossible to contemplate; yet there I was, faced with the very real possibility.
I imagine every parent of a teen suicide knows exactly what I was going through, how I felt: the pain of loss; the frustration of not being there for someone in pain; the sense of failure.
Erin walked into the room 30 minutes later, gave me the following to read:
All the girls were upset, particularly the Littles. The house had gone dark and cold, and under a red sky, thunder rumbled overhead.
They’d found 7’teen. She’d asked Miki to go for a walk in the forest late last night with her. They’d sat down to talk and Miki had fallen asleep. 7’teen had tried to suicide: she’d stabbed herself directly in the heart. They found her and Miki wandering out of the forest, Miki supporting 7’teen’s weight on one arm.
7’teen was frozen blue, with dried blood staining her top. She collapsed in front of the other Alters. Emma immediately reached down and put her arms around her, whispering soothing words. Erin ran off to fetch a bandage. Miki stood back, looking stricken and subdued. Shane stood over all of them, waiting to offer any assistance they needed. 7’teen was crying hopelessly. The girls were gently comforting her, telling her everything was alright, that she’d be fine, that she must just come back into the house with them and she’ll feel better. 7’teen reluctantly agreed, and Shane picked her up and carried her in out of the bloodstained snow.
That’s true compassion: loving someone when they’ve upset you; holding them when they’ve terrified, or disappointed you; or welcoming them with caring, open arms when they’ve hurt you.
I could only wish that I had the same compassion for Miki that all the Alters had for each other.