Article 25

What Can I Do For Randi?

In Uncategorized on 07/06/2012 at 4:05 pm

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She cuts herself

By Larry Gross

 

I find that my mind is on her a lot – this person who unexpectedly wandered into my life one morning. I’m feeling helpless. I don’t know what I can do for her.

I’ll call her Randi. She’s someone I’ve known for only five weeks. When she moved into the apartment building next to mine, she saw me smoking a cigarette outside on the porch. She came over and introduced herself.

Randi is tall and blonde with blue eyes. She’s skinny. Even in warm weather, she wears long-sleeved shirts and blue jeans. She’s an attractive girl but much too pale.

She’s a newlywed. Randi and her husband have only been married six months. I’ve never really seen her husband but I’ve heard him. Sometimes late at night, I hear the two of them fighting. Since I can hear them in the building where I’m living, I can only imagine how loud it must be in their apartment. Randi’s husband is much louder than she is. He’s doing most of the yelling.

After hearing these fights, I sometimes see her the following morning. She acts like everything is fine, so I never bring the subject up. Despite the fact that the yelling and screaming often wakes me up at night, the problems they’re having isn’t any of my business.

One afternoon last week, Randi made it my business. Her husband works in construction and somehow got the afternoon off – or this is what Randi told me after the fact. His car was parked in front of my apartment building. Looking out my window, and with his back turned towards me, I saw him walk to his car with Randi chasing after him.

Randi was pleading with her husband not to go. He told her to go to hell.

At my writing desk working, I pretended not to notice them. After the car pulled away, Randi knocked on my door.

She wanted to know if we could talk. I pulled her up a chair next to my desk. I offered her a Diet Coke. She wanted plenty of ice.

While drinking her Coke, Randi told me she and her husband are having problems. She said he likes to go out with his buddies and drink. She told me he’s addicted to pain pills. He was in prison shortly before they got married. She told me she loves him and doesn’t feel good enough for him.

I didn’t say much because I didn’t know what I could do. She’s a neighbor I barely know. I tried to listen, but that was becoming harder as she continued to talk.

Randi told me she sometimes cuts herself. I had no idea what she meant and asked her to explain. She said she cuts her wrists, arms or legs – breaks the skin to help cope with the pain for her strong feelings towards her husband. She said it’s a release for her. Shocked, I asked if this was only something she does because of her husband. She shook her head no.

Randi started cutting herself in high school. Fights with her parents led to the cutting. She ran away from home when she was 17 and got married to her first ex-convict husband. She’s now on her second marriage. Both husbands added to her self-inflicted wounds.

As Randi kept talking, I now knew why she always wore long-sleeved shirts and jeans. I also knew I was in over my head. I don’t know anything on the subject of cutting.

Her searching eyes told me she wanted to hear comforting words. I didn’t have any. All I could think to say was, if she was trying to hurt her husband by cutting herself, I didn’t see her point. She was only hurting herself and needed to be talking to a professional about the problem.

I gave Randi a hug before she left. Looking out my apartment window, I watched her walk home. I felt sorry for her.

Maybe it was an hour later when I heard an ambulance turn down my street. Going back to my apartment window, I watched the ambulance park in front of Randi’s apartment building. I watched two men in uniform enter the building with a stretcher. A few minutes later, they came back outside with Randi lying on it. The sheet covering her body looked a little bloody. The men put her in the back of the ambulance. With no siren blaring, they sped away.

I haven’t seen or heard from Randi since. I worry about her and find myself thinking about how she deals with her pain.

While maybe I don’t know much about cutting, I think we all have our own ways of coping with our problems. Some turn to drugs, some to alcohol and some turn to God and prayer. I don’t think these choices work. They’re addictions that make matters worse. Cutting away the pain is also an addiction. Randi’s really no different than a lot of us.

I’m no longer hearing any fights next door at night, but on most mornings, I’m still standing on that front porch outside my apartment building smoking a cigarette. I’m not looking for Randi’s husband. I’m looking for Randi. I want her to be all right.

I hope to see her again. I want to tell Randi that I’m not a professional who can help sort out and overcome her problems. All I am is a friend who can try to understand and who, at the very least, can listen to her life. Maybe that’s what I can do for Randi.

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