They say that when we lose our parents, we lose the past. When we lose our children, we lose the future. What goes through the head of an adolescent person who believes he has no future?
This week I am writing about what is perhaps the hardest case I’ve dealt with, one which led me to write my book. It started with some strange words:
“Every day feels like a trap. My body is changing, but everything around me stays the same, every day. My life is dominated by what I MUST do, not what I WANT to do. I am wasting day after day with people I MUST be with, usually teenagers who feel the same way I do.”
“The result is that my most frequent feeling is: I DON’T WANT TO. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to go to school. I don’t want, I don’t want, I don’t want anything anymore. It’s hard to think of a single thing that I can honestly say I want apart from sleep. Sleeping is the only time that I don’t feel stress, disappointment, fear. When I’m asleep I don’t have to be afraid of anything.”
“I escape every day into Netflix, and nonsensical videos on YouTube. This helps me to forget my thoughts. My parents shout at me about this, they shout at me because of the mess in my room, but I’m a mess inside too. And don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I don’t know where these feelings come from.”
“Sometimes I damage things, I destroy them. Because it makes them feel closer to me. I feel damaged and destroyed in the same way.”
“The worst thing, Mr. Casanova, is that it wasn’t always like this. When I look at my old photos from early childhood I see a small child that was happy all the time. A small child that liked dancing, wasn’t bothered that he might be stupid, and didn’t care what other people thought about him, but he’s gone. Now I feel like the small child in me is dead.”
“I’m worried that my letter won’t make sense to you and that you’ll throw it away and condemn me. You wouldn’t be the first if you did. But I would just ask you to listen to me, don’t give up on me, don’t ignore me, because I’ve been telling myself all this negative stuff for a long time. And I really need someone who is stronger than I am.”
“I need you to be my parent, because right now I feel like I don’t have any. They aren’t patient with me, they don’t try to understand me, they can’t accept me. They just shout at me and don’t understand that when I say I hate them, I just need to hear that they love me.”
I chose only seven passages from a hand-written letter that got into my mail. I almost never get letters, and the envelope didn’t even have a stamp. “Somebody,” remembered my assistant, “brought it in personally. A… boy.”
This surprised me. Why didn’t he use e-mail? And if he only trusted paper, didn’t he have the price of a stamp? What was going on? I was suddenly jolted by a thought and glanced out of the window, had he left home?
Everybody Deserves a Chance
The Prague Igor Chaun’s documentary Becoming an Adult Overnight draws attention to the plight of young people leaving children’s homes when they reach adulthood. Left only to their own devices, they are searching for a way to stand on their own two feet. Kamil Vacek, the owner of TCCM, which financed the filming, says: “I want everybody to have a chance, and to understand that they deserve it. Today, lots of children, and not just the ones from children’s homes are unable to function independently. They have very low self-confidence and there is probably nobody, with the exception of non-profit aid organisations, that will help them get oriented and fit in. That’s why it occurred to us to film short sections with the children that succeeded and the ones that didn’t.”
I looked for him at the station, despite not knowing what he looked like, this boy who was overwhelmed by the feeling that he had no future. Miraculously I found him, which is to say that he found me.
We talked, and for a long time. I tried to listen, not only to what he said, but to understand what he wasn’t saying—what every child would like to shout out, what they would like to ask for, but don’t know how.
I tried to record the essence of the seven things that the boy could not say out loud. I’ll get to them now. Please think about them.
Please, continue to the 2nd page.