Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was lonely and hurt inside.
Sometimes she cut up her soft white arms. She kept sleeves carefully pulled up to cover these marks. She hid her pain. Confiding in someone was an impossibility. When the pain was at its worst, she wrote carefully drawn poems in blue ink that seeped deep into her skin. She imagined the words dripping through the tissues into her blood and her heart, where they gave her agony shape and magnitude. When she was walking around in silence, at school, she needed to know that physical evidence of her misery did exist. It made her stronger to know that the truth covered her arms, external, visible, an artistic expression of who she really was – hideous and real.
When the poems faded, she wrote new ones on her still-blue wrists. She wrapped them around her shoulders like cobras. She covered her skin in writing, but, when she was faced with a blank white page, was unable to write a single word. When she was with people, she was unable to speak anything that she thought or felt. She closed off. She hated herself. She imploded the way a star collapses into miserable, empty, unloveable, ugly darkness.
When the girl walked, some days she had to chant in her head. 1, 2, 3, 4. One foot in front of the other. Silencing all her deeper thoughts and turning her back on the suffocating pain that had come to rule her life, she looked at the ground and counted the steps and prayed she would die.
She hated her ugly red skin. She hated her own lack of creativity, her discoordination, her lack of social skills. She hated the ugly way her hairline pulled back on her forehead and the bizarre, ugly shortness of her jawline. She gained weight and found that she hated her body, too. She hated everything she had ever been teased about. “Rat hair,” “man shoulders,” “gross,” “big ass,” “why don’t you date somebody attractive?”
God, how she hated herself.
She felt like screaming all the time. She wore heavy clothes and hats. She never went to the lockers and avoided the cafeteria at all costs. She went to classes and waited in-between on the floor of handicap restaurant stalls, where she ate lunch. She stopped reading and threw herself into studying, though she had begun to resent school. She lied to her parents and put on a reasonably non-suicidal face each afternoon, just long enough to escape to her bedroom. She felt trapped and overwhelmed and deeply, irrevocably worthless. She locked herself in her bedroom and late at night crawled into her closet with a knife.
She didn’t cry a lot. She just stared into space with burning eyes, clawing her nails into her temples to distract her mind from the real pain. When forced to interact with people, she was blank, polite, and absolutely neutral. She had no friends. Not one.
She prayed every night that God would kill her before she woke. She stayed up almost until the sun rose because she dreaded each coming day and knew that the sooner she fell asleep, the sooner she would wake up. Mostly she prayed angrily to God to take her life and let her die. She didn’t want to do it herself because she felt that while her parents might recover from losing their daughter in a tragic accident, the sense of failure and betrayal they would feel as a result of her taking her own life would be devastating. In this way, she knew she was loved. At least, because her parents were good people, their love was unconditionally bestowed onto whoever happened to be their child. They loved her for the role she played and the sweet child she’d been – not the person she was. If she was truly worth loving, someone else would also care. She told herself she didn’t need to really live if she couldn’t. She just had to keep breathing to keep their hearts intact. Just keep breathing. But she slept with a knife clutched in white-knuckled hands.
This girl still lives inside me, waiting to rise up and take over my mind and heart again. I’m better now. But I still have no confidence that I am a person worthy of genuine love or admiration or friendship. I still avoid people. I still have almost no friends. I’m still a little dead inside. And the poems still occasionally stain my right arm blue. But I can listen to music and pretend to be happy for a few hours. I can read a novel, once in a while. I can make myself go to sleep because I’ve discovered it’s an escape from feeling. I can plan for the future, though I’m crippled by a fear of getting early-onset Parkinson’s disease because my hands already shake fairly often and I hear low dopamine levels (which can also cause depression) are associated with it. I hate myself. But I can function and pretend otherwise sometimes. I can hide in my room most days because of a flexible class schedule. My grades are just fabulous. I’m afraid of the future and that if I end up working in an office I will kill myself.
That’s where I’m at in life. This is the truth.