If I had a problem or just needed an electronic shoulder to cry on I would email this lady and she would get back to me. Sometimes this would be within a couple of hours and almost always it was within a day. The whole scheme worked really well, partly due to the fact that the mentor wasn’t somebody I knew and because I was never supposed to see her – unless I chose to – I felt able to share all sorts of feelings with her. Sometimes I felt so cross with Mum and Dad for leaving me behind to face such total crap on my own and I was able to say this to her as a stranger without upsetting friends or family.
This went on for quite a while and it probably one of the things that did the most to keep me sane enough to keep on going to school. But then it all went wrong!
For a reason she has never really been able to explain, even to herself, my mentor came to visit me at school. Not for any sinister reason, it was just to deliver a small birthday present, but it was totally against good practice and also against what had been agreed between us. Once I knew her face and recognised her voice I wasn’t able to share all my fears and worries with her. She wasn’t just an anonymous person responding to an email anymore!
We both tried, really hard, to make it work again. But the magic had gone. One 30 minute visit had destroyed one key feature of my support network. It is hard to say which of us felt worse. I kept on thinking that I should be able to put things right if only I wasn’t being so silly. She kept on thinking, “If only I hadn’t broken the rules, none of this would have happened”.
We are still in touch. Polite, friendly emails pass between us about once every six weeks. But we both know that the intimacy we had shared for those few critical months can never happen again.
And that makes us both feel sad.