I started to self-harm back when I was fourteen. Junior high was rough and high school was looking even rougher. I was a complete social mess and it seemed I would always fall for the wrong guy. The first time started after the guy I liked at the time, and who I had thought liked me as well, completely rejected me at the end of the school year after using me to get him through classes and help him pass tests. I had given him answers to tests and homework because he made me feel special and I hated myself for being so stupid and weak.
It started out simply. A kitchen parry knife I’d gotten from some Pamper Chef thing my mother had dragged me to and an unhealthy dose of self-loathing were the beginning of my problem. But then I started to worry. What if people found out? They would hate me and think I’m a terrible person. I couldn’t go a day without hearing someone telling ‘emo jokes’ and bashing anyone who they thought MIGHT be cutting.
The shower became my sanctuary. Shaving my legs was a normal enough process. And all I had to do was occasionally press to hard, twitch, jerk the razor through my skin. The inside of my thighs looked like a battle ground where both sides had lost. And then along came another guy. I tried to stay away from him. But again, I felt special.
I knew this time though. I wasn’t special. He wasn’t even single. But I had a nice ass and a distinctive innocence that drew him to me. So he convinced me that if I would just make out with him, he would leave her and be with me. Of course that didn’t happen. Maybe if I just touched him he would want me more instead. Words without meaning were all he ever spewed though. There I was, left alone again and with more reason to dig the knife deeper.
But soon came along another guy. This one was different. We were friends, we got along splendidly, and when things were right a kiss sealed the deal. I was alone no more.
The urge still came to me. Family stung as much as any man ever would and my mother knew exactly where to land her daggers. Worthless, cold-hearted, selfish, pathetic, never meeting her expectations, a poor excuse of a daughter I’d make an even poorer excuse for a wife if I could ever even manage to become one.
He noticed. I deteriorated. Instead of a knife or razor I’d taken to using my own teeth and nails. I was literally tearing myself apart. By now all my scars have healed except one, where I’d torn open my wrist with my own fingernails in a moment of anguish.
But time turned on and I thought I had control. I was off to college now and I was going to have my own grand life. Feeble dreams they were of a weak mind. My dorm became a prison of my own making. Even friends and roommates weren’t allowed visitation. I was wasting away into my grief-stricken solitude. My father came, along with my boyfriend, and they pried me out of that cage.
Still, I did not recover. I returned home. I got to be with him and I made new and great friends. Friends I held dearly and who I thought maybe I could trust. But I was fooling myself again. I knew my trust was false. My mind was an enigma even to myself that false trust was all I could even imagine giving.
A year later was the night of my fall. In one fell swoop my self-destructive ways took from me two dear friends and the love of my life. A box cutter to my wrists was the only way I saw out. I was vile, despicable, and now that I was hated by those who had loved me I would leave behind no one to grieve my loss.
It didn’t work. Blood refused to pour from me. Dumb luck and poor circulation are probably to blame. That was when I turned to counseling. I had to lose it all, well, almost all, to build myself back from the rubble. Like a phoenix, or perhaps some less cliched creature, I rose from the mess I had been.
I have a life again. It’s not perfect. It’s not where I want to be. But you know what? I have true friends who stuck with me through all of that, who never turned their back on me. I have new friends who accept all the oddities about me. I have a new boyfriend who treats me better than I’ve ever been treated by a guy, who respects and loves me even with all my faults. I learned how much I really meant to my family. And I now have the chance to live out whatever life I so chose.
Sure, for now I have to depend on a pill to help keep my moods in check. Finding out I have bipolar disorder and OCD like my mother was no surprise, though the panic disorder with agoraphobia threw me for a bit of a loop. I still have panic attacks. I still have the urge. I still want to cut when I feel hopeless.
But I know I don’t have to. And I know that if I do I have people I can turn to who won’t judge me for doing it. When I get that low, even if I pick up a blade, a few deep breaths and I put it down because I am loved. And that is the most beautiful thing a person can be.