Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just Breathe

The other night I sat alone at one of the parks and watched the local pd as I debated on laying open my flesh. As I held the blade tightly between my fingers, I flashed back to what it was like the last time a had to have stitches in my arm. I have cut since then, but only small rips at my skin that needed little or no attention. These wounds are minor compared to the normal 7 stitches that it takes to close one of my usual ‘accidents’.

I knew the officers that were on duty, and of course they all know me, so I really didn’t want to get caught doing something that is believed to only occur in teenagers, not to women over 40. After all these years of cutting, I still sometimes can not stop myself from inflicting pain to my body, but if I put myself in the right position, I will write instead. That was what I decided to do this time, write about what it was like the last time I cut myself deep.

This story mixes a little reality, with a bit of fiction.


I’m standing outside a heavy steel metal door, with only a small thick glass window that looks into a tiny five foot by twelve foot room. I focus in on a dimly lit image standing towards the back of the room near a metal toilet with a sink attached on the back. I press my face closer and open my eyes wide trying to make the image more defined. I can tell that it is a person, and I think I recognize them, but I can’t seem to remember.

She is tall and a rather large woman with dirty blonde hair, and she is wearing a blue tee-shirt. She has her back to me, but I can make out that she is doing something with her arm.

I wipe a tear from my eye, blinking several times until I’m able to focus more clearly.

The woman is standing near the toilet with her arm leaning over a metal sink. She holds something shiny in her right hand. Something sharp. I wonder what she is doing? As she turns partly sideways I can see her left arm covered in fresh red blood. It is dropping steadily into the sink, splashing the sides until the blood flows down like spilled paint. Blood covers the razor sharp cutting edge of the blade that she holds tightly in her shaking right hand.

As the blood slows, she makes another slice deeper into the wound, filling it with fresh blood. It begins to drain down her arm, making a big mess, splattering onto the floor. She uses toilet paper from the back of the sink to wipe up the large droplets of blood from the floor. She uses more to slow the heavy flow of blood dripping down to her elbow.

I stand there, mesmerized by her actions, when without warning an almost familiar force grabs me around my throat and like a tornado, it sucks my dead mind through the tiny window. I now stand side by side the woman with the blood soaked arm, watching her lean over the sink to avoid making a mess for others to clean. In her eyes, I see the shame and disgust at what she has done.

I reach out to grab her arm, to let her know she doesn’t have to continue cutting. The wound is deep enough. As our eyes meet, I see the deep pain, I understand, but now we have to get help. Our hands touch and slowly mix together, until we become one.

I am now her. I am in control. I look down at the bloody blade that she held so tightly in her right hand, and my eyes open wide as I look at the open oozing new wound. My eyes stare widely at the steadily dripping blood, and I realize it is my arm that is bleeding heavily into the cold steel metal sink.

“Oh shit!” my voice trembles and my right hand shakes with the bloody blade. My whole body flushes with a surge of adrenaline and I begin to awaken. “Fuck! Who cut my damn arm? Why? Why do you do this?”

A voice from far away whispers, ‘She did it. She’s always the one who cuts.’ I hear the voice of the others arguing, fighting. They are the voices that feel like they don’t belong to me.

I cautiously sit the sharp blade on the back of the sink as a rush of sadness consumes my brain, squeezing it until tears swell from my eyes. It blurs my vision until I squeeze my eyes tightly and let the tears cascade down my cheeks. I quickly wipe them away, and then use the remaining toilet paper to wipe up the blood that has once again dripped onto the floor.

I think maybe I can hide the wound, but it won’t stop bleeding. I need more tissue. The weeping voice inside me is hurt. The others fight about who’s fault it really is, and why one of them doesn’t step forward before she cuts.

With a sudden tear-jerking jolting shock, I realize where I am, and that I’ve got to stop the bleeding. I turn on the water and wash the blood from the open wound, letting the water stain a light rose color. The bleeding only becomes worse as the cool water stings the open wound. I carefully inspect the laceration that shows the fatty tissue underneath. There is no pain, just a slight stinging sensation, but the blood continues to pour from the wound.

I realize I will have to go to the emergency room, but I hate going to the ER. It’s always embarrassing trying to explain that I ‘accidentally’ cut myself, but this time others will be with me. I can not use that excuse. Along with all the stares, there is always at least one person who will make me feel even less of a human than I already do. They know what happened, but they don’t want to do all the paperwork that comes with committing someone for cutting themselves, so they won't say anything.
Maybe I should just cut a little deeper, and then lay down and go to sleep. A part of me struggles with what to do.

“Fuck!” I shout loud enough to vibrate off the walls. Nobody has this many accidents on their arm. Nobody. My arm is a battlefield, and each scar tells a separate story, many of which I would rather forget. Worse my mind questions, how do I explain this to those closest around me? How am I once again going to hide the wound?

Blood drains down my arm to the floor. A voice inside me is urging with me to get someone’s attention. ‘You need help’ a tiny voice whispers from somewhere far away. I shake my head in shame, and ponder how does one ask for help when they are locked up alone behind a solid steel door? Sadness gathers deep in my chest and I try to swallow.

I hear heavy footsteps coming. A voice steps forward, she’s the one who always has to have everything neat and tidy. She just wants more tissue so there won’t be a mess. A young man looks though the small thick glass window and sees what she has done.

I sit down on the small cot and take a deep breath. I know within only a few moments others will come. Later I will feel the familiar calmness that overtakes my entire body after I cut. It is that calmness that we seek. Afterwards we will sleep long and hard. Our mind will rest peacefully. But even as I do sleep soundly, one of us knows it hasn’t been a good day.

They know the hard part will come later, when I have to hide the latest cut from those I don’t want to know. I question myself if it was worth the few hours of feeling euphoric while I sat next to the officer baby sitting me as the they put seven stitches into my left arm to close the deep laceration. Maybe the next day will be a better day. This I know, she will not have to cut again for a few months.

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