Friday, 7 October 2016

A Deed Not Done.

I was sitting on a train yesterday and there was a teenage girl sitting almost opposite on the other side of the aisle. She was thin and a little pale, and had the look of someone from the wrong end of town. She was wearing a T shirt so her arms were bare, and both of them were almost covered with cut marks.

It’s a sad thing to see. It makes me wonder what sort of torment the person must be suffering if physical pain offers the only form of relief. Or is it to do with something other than physical pain? Is it something to with making your body marked and ugly because that’s what you feel it deserves? I don’t know. I’m not a trained psychologist or psychiatrist, much less an expert on the practice of self-harm.

But still I wanted to go and sit next to her and ask whether she wanted to talk, because one thing I do know is that talking about your state of mind to someone who will listen and try to understand without judging – and maybe even offer an alternative way of seeing things – can sometimes be helpful.

I couldn’t because somebody was already sitting in the seat next to her. And I probably wouldn’t have done anyway. She had defiant eyes and would probably have objected to a stranger encroaching on her space and privacy. She might even have accused me of being a pervert.

And so I got off the train before she did, and wondered what we should do when we see somebody in trouble but know that it isn’t as easy as helping a person up when they’ve stumbled. I have a feeling that it ought to be, but it isn’t. Sometimes circumstances offer you the chance, and sometimes they keep it out of your reach.

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