Monday, August 4, 2014

Stories From the Past: Scars

Trigger warning: self-injury and suicide

There are hundreds of scars criss-crossing my body. Faded reminders of the pain from the not so distant past. I have hated these visible reminders of how bad it really was. But I still mourn as they fade and sink into the background of my skin. They are markers of my life. Twelve years of pain documented on my body.

I can still see the very first scars. The ones made with a broken bottle shard sitting under a tree near the highway. That first time, I wanted to die. Wanting to die, trying to die, those weren't new things for me. I'd already tried several other ways with obviously no success. This would be it, the ultimate escape. Back then, death was the only option I could see for getting free from the life I was trapped in.

Broken bottle shards do not make for good cutting tools. I cried because it wasn't sharp enough and then had to hide what I was doing when a classmate showed up uninvited. The burning stinging pain in my wrists got me through the rest of that week. It opened a whole new world of coping to me.

It spiralled out of control until I had to cut to make it through the day. It got harder and harder to hide, to excuse away. When I was arrested two years later they had to document any injuries on my body. I had almost 40 current self-inflicted wounds covering my arms. I wish I could say that I got the help I needed and that the self-injury stopped then. Instead I got creative. I found other ways that didn't leave a mark that could be seen by others. I continued to cut and it once again took over my life when I got a place of my own.

I'd love to say that I would have stopped on my own, but that wouldn't be the truth. I needed an external consequence that was serious enough to motivate me to stop. I still almost didn't make it. One day at a time added up to years. Four years, four months, and twenty-one days.

I wish I could say that I don't miss it. Some days that pull is still there. I don't know that it will ever go away. On the days that the pull is too strong, I trace the scars and remember. Remember the pain that drove me to cut for relief. Remember the self-hatred that demanded I punish myself for existing. Remember the lies that if I could bleed enough then maybe I wouldn't be evil. Remember that I have other tools now than this one and that I deserve gentle care from myself, rather than more scars.

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