What would I have to do to burn the bridge of cutting?
Why do I crave to do something so traumatizing? My handwriting is sloppy because I’m trying to remember. The hand doesn’t move as fast as the mind, and maybe that’s why the hand follows the impulse to cut even while the child inside is wide-eyed and scared and yelling “No! No!”
Sometimes I think that my resistance to self-harm looks like hot butter on a stack of pancakes. Sliding, sliding, sliding, moving ever so closer to the edge.
I suppose the butter wouldn’t slide if the pancakes were cold, but that’s the problem. When I’m hot I start to slide.
I can remember what my limbs look like with bloody syrup running down them. I remember what color my dermis is. I recall how spongy it looks. Porous and pink, like a sea sponge. There’s always that pause in time between admiring your insides, and when the cut fills with blood. A canyon of blood.
I know what color my subcutaneous fat is. The consistency of egg whites. Egg whites and ketchup mixing – a ravine of violence.
I can recall what color the water turns when you open yourself up to the pain and the blood mixes in the jet tub. Pretty soon the jet tub is spitting your blood back at you and the water is translucent – cloudy with a red dye.
I know what blood looks like when it floats on the surface of a lacquered white bathroom sink. I know how it darkens to a new color, depending on what it dries on.
I know what it feels like to go swimming and have the entire pool of people stare and point at your thighs. I have felt the shame of walking up the pool steps amidst the stares and points of strangers, back to the safety of a locker room and clothing to hide in.
I have felt a vein bounce against a razor like a rubber band.
I have had to lie and make up stories. I have convinced an entire school that I limp because I have a bad knee.
I have not washed a leg for months because that leg always had a fresh slice.
I have watched in panic and curiosity as a cut opened back up at work and the fresh blood soaked through my jeans. I have hopped on one leg through the house looking for a bandage, or maybe just another drink.
I have mopped up pools of blood from vinyl.
I have thrown soaked maroon-dyed blankets in the trash.
I have blushed in shame at the question “why is there blood all over the toilet seat?”
I have thrown blood-soaked wads of toilet paper in the toilet so I don’t have to worry about taking out the trash.
I have gone to the store and purchased beer, bandages, and antibacterial cream at one time.
Some self-harms were more creative. Creativity is not confined to paint and charcoal pencils – my body can be a canvas. I can poke needles into all of my fingertips like I’m making a stitch. Then I can laugh morbidly at feeling like I’m Edward Scissorhands. I can hold a lighter to my arm and make a blister. I can clip the pink part of my fingernails into a zig-zag shape. I can buy a cheap hand mirror so I can punch it repeatedly until the glass breaks. Then I can keep punching it so that the shards shove into my knuckles and take days to come out. With every fingertip dripping blood I can hold my hand over paper and watch the drops fall like tears.
I can have bald spots on my head from pulling my hair.
I can bang my head on a steering wheel. I can kick something until a toe breaks. I can not eat. I can starve myself until my ribs show under my breasts. I can drink to forget and drink to throw up, or maybe throw up to drink more. I can sink under water and not emerge until my reflexes tell me to do so.
I can ask others to harm me physically so I forget the emotional pain. I can park and walk in dirty neighborhoods hoping to get physically attacked. I don’t care if it’s stabbing, I don’t care if it’s rape, as long as it’s something so I forget. I can indirectly ask others to paint on the canvas.
My body is war-torn and a casualty. I own a collection of tally marks, showing how many times I have flirted with death.
What would I have to do to burn the bridge of cutting? The smoke signals from my wrists never brought the help I was motioning for. Only I know the story each one of those bumps erupted with. Only I carry the scars and the weight.
I guess I feel like I can’t stop cutting unless I love myself. But then we have a chicken and egg problem. Because don’t I have to love myself in order to stop cutting? How do I reclaim my body?
I have called a razor “friend.” How do I walk away from that?
I have personified a razor blade. Others have walked away from me when I only did them right, and now I have to do the same thing. The only thing that has been there for me through thick and thin (that is to say, circumstances and skin). My imaginary friend since I was a child.
We all have to let go of our imaginary friends eventually.
I will have to cut off the thing that has cut into me. I will have to throw it into the trash can. I will have to shout to those I still trust that I refuse to associate with that imaginary friend anymore. I will have to accept the risk of losing my identity and the possibility of having to build a new one. I will have to look forward to bouts of anxiety, shaking and shivering and just wanting a damn fix already. I will have to remember, every time my palms sweat with the urge, that I am worth more than how deep I cut. I will have to pretend to believe it until I do. I will have to avoid walking down the men’s shaving aisle at the grocery store. I will have to face the shame head-on, of admitting to a friend “I feel like cutting right now and I need your help.” I will have to be brave and rebellious against my own hand.