A Counselor’s Life

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The 2017 Counselors Symposium was what I needed, at that time, to push through with my chosen career. I am a school Guidance Counselor by profession, and I thought I was ready to face angsty teenagers right after I got my certification in 2017. But I was not emotionally prepared for what came to be the first month I was on duty. I met Melinda. She is sixteen years old, and she told me that she was pregnant. And that she did not want her baby.

As a school counselor, I am mandated by law to report if I believe, in my professional capacity, that someone might be in harm’s way. I did not see it during that time. I know that I have put sense in Melinda about her baby, and she even left my office with a smile. She told me that she was keeping the baby and that everything will be alright.

The father of the baby was a “gangbanger.” We all know how that is, and Melinda wanted nothing to do with him. That is what she told me. At first, she did say that she did not want a baby. She said that she was not ready. I did not force her on the issue, but I did talk to her about how she felt when she knew she was pregnant. I could see in her eyes that she was happy and that a tiny piece of her heart wanted to have the young one. I gathered that the gangbanging boyfriend did not want the baby and told her it is not up for discussion.

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She mustered the courage to go to my office and tell me about it since she was conflicted. I told her that she must decide for herself since it is her life on the line and that I will be there to assist and support her as long as she needed my guidance. Melinda said that she would talk to her parents and then have the baby. I told her to tell me about the talk with her parents the next day as I will be waiting. As per obligation, I also told our school principal of the session I just had.

The next day was devastating. I learned that Melinda took her own life, but the reasons were unclear. It deeply depressed me, and I was out of work for a month because I blamed myself. Good thing, the symposium was already paid for, and I had to attend it. From there, I realized that as a counselor, I could only guide people to the best of my ability. But I cannot tell them what they have to do. I cannot blame myself for their actions.