‘My foundation was rocked. My tried and true way to deal was to vanish, my departures were old, I stood in the room, shaking in my boots. At that particular time, love had challenged me to stay.’ – Alanis Morissette.
I woke up in my single bed on that afternoon, stretching and yawning, feeling entitled to my extended and indulgent morning of sleep like only a teenager could.
It was only as I turned over and the knife-edge soared through my right arm with such ferocity it robbed me of my breath, that I was reminded of the night previous.
The first genuine smile I had expressed in a number of months lit up my heart, I was relieved.
I felt alive.
The throbbing damage done, radiating outwards like the only ripple in a stagnant and forgotten millpond.
There is no beauty here.
In agony I now trusted.
It couldn’t let me down.
It would never leave.
A blanket of pain wrapping around me like a hug, waking me up, wiping away my tears, consoling my cracked heart, listening to my fears, supporting my askew beliefs and allowing me to indulge in my sweet new friend, self-punishment.
The glint of the knife skims my skin again and I see my determined and gritty eyes looking back up at me from it’s tilted reflection.
It is a relief when the corrugated edge stops jiggling, jumping and bouncing over my skin as if in protest, and does the job it was made to do.
Harder, much harder.
Again and again, with grim resolve I drag it over my arms.
My mind clears with heavenly nothingness as the blood pops up in joyous celebration at being freed, ready to caress, soothe and mollify my anger.
The sweet release of tangible pain.
The feel of it gifting me with the same sort of relief, you may feel when you remove your biting bra at the end of a long day.
The high is like cocaine. (So I hear) but all too soon it is replaced with a crushing shame.
A shame that disables me.
I hurt myself to remove the hurt.
I hurt myself as punishment for the choices I have made, that I can’t go back and change.
I hurt myself because the pain takes away my past, and that is worth it, even if it is only for a few moments.
I do not hurt myself for attention.
I hurt myself because I deserve to be hurt.
A faceless stranger sits in front of me, shaking with anger, her eyes filled with confusion and hurt, wet with the tears waiting in the wings.
‘She is a bloody attention seeker, my little girl. She was my baby only yesterday, running around in a nappy and oh how I adored her; we would play the days away, my best friend.’ She pauses with a ragged breath.
I stare at the floor, immobilised.
‘It is like she has been kidnapped. She cuts and she cuts… I just want my little girl back, but right now I hate her. I hate her.’
Her hair has a grey tinge and the light from the window behind her casts a shadow on me, plunging me back in to the dark.
She lifts her hands to her face in a jerky and surprised motion and sobs.
‘I don’t hate her. I just can’t save her. She wont let me save her. But save her from what? She has a great life!’
She stamps her foot, removes her hands from her face, brutally wipes her escaped tears away and fixes on to her face, a resigned and steely glare.
I carry this woman with me a lot.
She has become a part of my life.
She sits on the mantelpiece of my misery, her legs swinging off and her smile hopeful as I try to leave the house without her.
If she were a dog, her tail would be wagging.
Can I join you today Lexy? Can I? Can I? Can I?
Like I have a choice.
She usually jumps in for the kill, just after I have grabbed my overpriced handbag that I bought trying to fill the void in me, my happy pills, and all manner of crap my two year old, still in nappies, is insistent he ‘needs’ for a day at his cousins. (Like a bucket of stones, the top of a pink plastic shark, it’s bottom discarded in the slush pile of toys, 8 dummies but not the red one, one truck with a wheel missing and his Mr. Happy fork.)
I have named this woman.
She is called Madame. Guilt.
And you’ll be pleased to know she has friends too, so she doesn’t get lonely.
They are unsurprisingly named Senor. Regret and Ms. Victoria You cant change the Past so stop trying you twat, you are a Failure and only have yourself to Blame.
They weigh my baggage down.
Usually I find them unexpectedly, while I am busy searching for the red dummy my son is insistent he brought with him, and will simply be heartbroken if he doesn’t get immediately.
I find them slotted in beside my fear of being a failure as a mother, my anxiety that somehow I will accidentally kill my son with undercooked sausages, and the yellow file marked ‘stuff you will remember you have forgotten, but only when you get to the car park outside your location, and your son vomits all over you. Stuff like wipes, money for petrol, your passport and your ability to function without tearing your hair out…’
They surely are an addictive bunch reaching their arms out in focused and determined desperation towards me, from in between the hopeful and happy days, intent on getting a handful, and when they do, pulling and stretching me until I tear.
I am a self-harmer.
They visit me in the dead of night, waking me up and covering me in sweat, screaming to be heard even when I have my face pressed in to my pillow begging for them to go away and let me sleep.
Let me look to the future.
And when I cant silence them?
When I can take no more?
I creep barefoot like a child on Christmas eve, full of excitement and anticipation to find out whether father Christmas has been yet, to the kitchen draw, to unwrap my present of silence, or sometimes, if I don’t feel I deserve the honeyed relief of blood, I tip toe to the hair straighteners, where I will patiently await the double beep, heart pounding.
And then I will burn. And burn. And burn.
This is the only love you deserve.
This is love.
Feel this pain.
Feel the momentary relief.
And I relish it.
I am a self-harmer.
It has been 4 months since I last self harmed.
My longest abstinence yet, since the tender age of 14, and onwards, without indulging, I trudge.
I am writing instead.
I am fighting.
It isn’t a walk in the park.
I am a self-harmer.
My scars tell my story.
And there she is, swinging her dangling legs, off my mantelpiece.
‘At that particular time love encouraged me to leave, at that particular moment, I knew that staying with you meant deserting me, that particular month was harder than you would believe, but I still left, at that particular time.’ – Alanis Morissette.
It is an Illness, and I am not ashamed.