Cut. Breathe. Sigh. Release.
You know that feeling you get when your very soul is crawling, itching, aching? You need something, anything, a release. There’s that fire in the depths of your abdomen and the muscles clench, sweat drips down your skin, you can barely catch your breath as wave after wave of emotion and ecstasy crash into you. The saying of, “My mind was reeling,” could not be farther from the truth. My mind is running, running faster, taunting me every so often by pretending to slow down. Those memories and images flood my brain and I want to look to someone and ask if they can see what’s behind my eyes too. Sometimes, sometimes I wish I could just pour acid over that section of my memory. But I can’t. And then the guilt kicks in.
There are these things called flashbacks, though at the time I had no idea what the hell was happening to me. They’re normally associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), you know, that disease soldiers from Iraq frequently come home with. Flashbacks can happen years after the trauma and in my case at sixteen, three years after I finally cut ties with Abby following ten years of abuse. I don’t really like that word, abuse, it sounds weak, pathetic.
Start cutting strips of paper, slowly, absentmindedly.
Cuticle scissors are the most inefficient tool for your cuticles. But for thread, small pieces of paper, and opening letters, they’re the best thing. There’s something beautiful about them, especially my mom’s pair she kept in her drawer in her room. She didn’t notice they were missing though because, again, who uses fucking cuticle scissors anyways? God, they were so sharp, so exact, and so…perfect. Perfection. Perfecto. Perfectly perfect in every way.
You know what I hate? Those emo girls who slit their wrists and wear those armbands as though they hide the cuts, as though they’re fooling anyone into thinking they aren’t seeking attention. There are different kinds of cutting: there’s cutting being a symptom of underlying depression or anxiety, there’s cutting as a cry for help, there’s cutting because of body image issues, there’s cutting to feel something, etc. And then there’s me: cutting because you feel too much at once, too many foreign emotions that you need to feel one thing. Pain. Control. You need to feel those cathartic cuticle scissors slicing through your perfect porcelain skin.
It’s the night of my sophomore father/daughter dance for Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and I’m wearing this blue ball gown, the same one I’ll wear the next year for prom two weeks after my mom dies suddenly. As prom queen I win a gorgeous tiara I’ll take to college with me and wear on days I need to feel special. And today (put on crown) I would like to feel pretty if that’s okay with you. I need to feel special.
Anyways, back to the dress: it was thirty bucks off the sales rack at Boston Store and though it needed some adjustments, it makes me feel like a princess. It’s an A-line ball gown with beading on the chest and a halter top. I have to hike my dress up pretty high to even gain access to my upper thighs. You might be wondering, “Why upper thighs?” I wear a uniform skirt for school that can only go four inches above the knee. My upper thighs are the only place I can hide, and the only place I can hide my scars.
I love odd numbers and despise even ones and will do just about anything to avoid the latter. Now, when I cut, the highest before today I’ve ever gone was seven but tonight I’m feeling daring. I have to hurry though since my dad is waiting downstairs to leave for the dance. I love being with and hanging out with my dad since he’s usually at work.
My mom’s always around, at least for now, so what’s so special about time with her? Time with my dad is special, precious. Besides, how the hell am I supposed to know in a year and a half she’ll be dead? Then I’ll have actual shit to give a shit about, not some stupid fucking flashbacks I can’t figure out how to deal with.
Start placing 11 strips out in front of me.
Cutting, for me at least, is hard to explain. The closest thing I can compare it to is an orgasm. There’s that buildup with each and every cut. My heart beats a bit faster, it gets harder and harder to focus, the rush overtaking my senses. I feel dangerous and normal at the same time, so perfectly bad and wonderful. Insanity and ecstasy becoming one. Then my head gets a bit foggy and I worry someone will walk in and pull him off of me but I don’t give a damn. There’s that point of no return and I’ve past it. I’m in the zone now. My hands are shaky and my eyes glazing. I can’t help but let out a little a moan, a sigh, and whimper for more. More. I need more. Control. I need control. One single emotion. One single control.
I drop the cuticle scissors to the ground and lean back in the chair, pulling the skin around the cuts to make sure I won’t bleed but that they were deep enough to leave a scar. The red lines rise like idols to the gods, lifting their artificial selves higher to the heavens. I assess my work and I’m damn proud. The best part is yet to come: running my smooth, pale fingers up and down the swollen red lines. It shoots a zing through me from the ends of each strand of hair to the tips of my toes. Currents of electricity throb through my bones and I come down from my high, lulling me back to earth. That tranquility. That perfect, perfect control. God, it feels good.
I have this problem with guilt. I like to tell my friends I got “Catholic guilt” by association after going to an all-girls Catholic high school. I think that’s a lot easier to explain than the truth, which is so subjective and messy. Do you really want to know the truth?
The truth is I still blame myself for what happened to me. I could have stopped being friend with Abby, spoken up about her cruelty, or at the very least grow the fuck up and get over it. I could stop being a whiney baby and suck it up, push it back down under the surface where it belongs. There’s this invisible weight on my chest and it makes it hard for me to see straight from the pressure. It’s guilt, this never ending guilt and shame for my childhood and my inability to handle it myself.
But when I carved my sorrows into my leg with amazing precision, I feel the pain I deserved. I don’t do it anymore, at least not as often; now it’s more like once every six months. I got the help I needed two months after that girl, that girl there finally lifted up her skirt and pointed.
Lift dress to show scars.
You see these? These are old scars; it was 23 times on each leg.
I’m afraid of a lot of things but I think most of all, I’m afraid of myself.