• Jerrad Hardin

The Thoughts I'm Thinking

Coach yelled at me again today. By now, I'm starting to think I deserve it.

Don't get me wrong - I do try.

But it's usually not good enough. Today was no different.

Coach says, "If you play like you're practicing, you'll cost us the game tomorrow."

Maybe, he's right.

I didn't exactly give it my all on the last play. I'm still hurting from the one before that - the one where I dove for it, and the ball took a bad hop and thumped me under the chin.

It hurt like hell. My ears are still ringing, and my teeth might be chipped.

Coach wasn't having it, though. His words were dipped in disgust. "Get up, Becky. You can't just fall on the ground and expect everyone to applaud you for effort!"

After practice, he asked me to stick around. He said he needed to chat with me. Little did he know, I was late to work. My boss already said, "One more time, and you're fired."

No job would mean no more softball. That's dad's rule. "Somebody has to pay for all this, and it ain't going to be me," he warned.

Coach stared at me with his hands on his hips as others collected their things and vacated the dugout. When all was clear, he shook his head with disappointment and said, "I can't figure you out. All the talent in the world, and you act as if you'd rather be anywhere else but here."

He's wrong. Softball is the only place where I feel safe. Mom drinks too much, dad is never around, and all of my friends have abandoned me because they say I'm no fun.

"Maybe you need a consequence," he stated.

Coach doesn't know, but every day seems like a consequence.

I feel tired, alone, and sad. More recently, I've entertained a strange idea. Even though I know it's wrong - it seems less strange by the day. I have wondered if everyone would be better off If I were gone.

Coach pointed his finger at me and instructed me to look him in the eyes.

It's hard for me to do that. Despite others saying I'm pretty, I don't see it. There's a vacant pot of confidence brewing behind my eyes.

"Becky, you've got one last chance; otherwise, I'm finished talking to you."

I guess that's about right. The one guy I thought was in my corner, he's leaving too - just like Casey last week. I thought he loved me. He said if I would just let him go a little farther, then we would be together forever. Apparently, forever is precisely 7 days in his mind.

Coach asked, "Are you even listening to me?"

Every word and his voice doesn't have an ounce of care in it. I feel that. It hurts.

"Listen here, kid. I can't do this with you anymore. Get your stuff and get out of here. I want you to think about how you're acting, and if you can't be better by tomorrow, don't even think about showing up for the game."

I stuff my glove in a bag and sit down to change shoes.

Coach continues to harp, "You need to realize that you bring the whole team down with your actions, wearing all of your emotions on your sleeve, and not giving two rips about how it affects others."

But he's not seeing all my emotions.

"You must like me yelling at you?" he scoffed.

I don't. It doesn't work. It only makes me feel worse.

"Sit up straight and quit acting like a whipped dog! Or do you want to be yelled at some more?"

No, I don't. What I want you to do is talk nicely to me, investigate my feelings, and offer a hug. Honestly, I was hoping you could give me some reason not to do what I'm thinking.

I stand with my things and give my coach one more look. My eyes are misty, I know it. I must look pathetic to him.

"Bye, Becky. Get it figured out," he says in a parting tone and turns away.

If only it were so easy.

I stand and wait for him to turn back. Perhaps he will show some concern. But he doesn't, so I leave.

My feet feel heavy on the walk home. It's not that far, but I feel beat. It probably has more to do with what I'm thinking.

The house is empty.

My mind is full.

The idea started a long time ago. I pushed it away at first, but over time, it's festered and infected my thoughts. Now, it's more than an idea - it's a goal.

There were lots of people who could've stopped me before it was too late, but they didn't.

Tomorrow everyone will say, "I'm shocked!" or "How could she?"

But if they're honest, they'll see how it was possible . Those around me will know that they could've been kinder and more concerned about my well-being. I guess, I could've been kinder to myself, too.

It will be said that I was mentally-ill, and that might be true, but I was also mentally-ignored.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Jerrad Hardin is an award-winning coach and best-selling author. To learn more about Jerrad, please visit: www.jerradhardin.com

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