Saturday, February 18, 2012

Turn Down the Volume

It seems very clear to me at this point that my eating disorder was an effective way for me to turn down the volume on life. I recognize with each day that passes and with each new obstacle that presents itself, that the world seems suddenly very loud and nearly overwhelming without the disorder to take the edge off of life. Without it, I am present. I am present in my own life for the first time in years and I love being able to experience my world in such a way that doesn't leave me feeling as though I am watching the world pass me by from the other side of a foggy window, but I am finding that there are pieces of the world that are much more difficult to navigate when experienced in full force as well.

I see why it has been here for so long. I can see it's disadvantages but I can see too why I found myself relying upon it so heavily. The world is a scary place. No, not really. The world isn't so bad, but I make it seem that way for myself. I don't know at this point if this is the way in which I have always experienced life and if the disorder developed as a coping mechanism to make things seem more manageable, or if I am essentially setting a trap for myself by allowing the world to seem so daunting and putting so much pressure and so many expectations upon myself.

The disorder doesn't make anything any better by any means. The disorder makes the world more manageable because it takes away my ability to care. It takes away my fire, removes my drive, it allows me to be content with simply existing but never really living. If nothing is as important as staying thin, life is essentially very simple. School doesn't matter, a true career doesn't matter, relationships don't matter, my passions don't matter, the only thing that matters is being thin and maintaining the lifestyle and behaviors that allow me to be that way. When the focus of life shifts from one simple and tangible goal of being thin to much broader and infinitely less tangible goal of being healthy and happy, the rulebook which has governed life for so long is useless in trying to navigate these new goals.

It feels like there are no rules. There are no guidelines. Anything is possible which is an incredible notion. It's incredible and some days it feels down right overwhelming. Sometimes the world feels too big and too vast and it feels as though it's only my new awareness of the world that makes it this way. The world hasn't changed, the world is very much the same place that it was when I started this process; but my place within the world and the perspective from which I view the world has been altered dramatically. It's the recognition of this fact that makes the pull of the disorder so tempting on some days.

Today is not one of those days. I don't miss the disorder today. What I do miss is being numb to some of the feelings that come along with the complete package of recovery. It's amazing to experience joy, happiness, passion, love, even fear, and pain. I welcome the emotions and the chance to finally experience them without judging myself as weak and inferior for being a human being who can get scared, or be hurt. It's refreshing when life was devoid of nearly all emotions except for pain for so long. Indeed, life had become a place where joy was only allowed if enough suffering had been experienced first, and a place where true joy was never really realized. My self-worth was only a measure of the pain that I could endure and with each day that passed, as the tolerance for pain increased, so too did the punishments.

I don't miss the constant pain, the suffering, the feelings of hopelessness and the shame. I don't miss seeing every single day as only the next opportunity to suffer and feeling as though life was not something worth living. What I do miss on days like today, is being completely numb to the anxiety. I'm all for experiencing the world in technicolor after living in black and white for so long, but the anxiety that comes along with really feeling and playing an active role in my life for the first time is something that I could honestly do without. I know that's not the way it works. I know that I can't pick and choose the feelings and emotions that come along with this process. This process is a package deal and I want it and know that it will be worth it in the end, but that doesn't make the feeling that I'm sitting with right now any more comfortable.

Anxiety was a feeling that was only tied to bike racing in my former life. It essentially didn't exist outside of racing and once racing was eliminated from the equation, anxiety essentially disappeared from the dwindling list of feelings that I was capable of experiencing. Life was simple. Sleep, ride, eat only as much as was absolutely necessary for riding, and work only as much as was necessary to pay rent and feed my urges to binge. Simple and miserable. Miserable, but free of anxiety. Free of anxiety, but also devoid of love, joy, and fun.

It's worth it. I know it is. I know that anxiety won't always be tied to nearly every single new experience that I come upon. It's interesting because right now, anxiety feels like it has become the default secondary emotional response even to new emotions. I find myself feeling anxious about feeling happy, or about recognizing the potential for happiness which makes me feel as though anxiety is yet another tool of the disorder meant to steer me in the wrong direction. I recognize too, that a certain amount of healthy nerves and anxiety is part of a normal, healthy existence. Perhaps its just new and I'm just unfamiliar with it at this point. Or, perhaps it's the search for relief from the anxiety that surrounds difficult tasks and new experiences that will continue to drive me to learn and grow through this process. Anxiety doesn't cure itself. Just like in bike racing, anxiety disappears with the completion of the task.

The task lies before me and it is steeped in anxiety, the only thing left to do is face the task and conquer the anxiety that surrounds it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Opportunity Knocking

The opportunity is there. No, not there, there implies that there is potential for opportunity or that the opportunity was there at some point, but that it's now passed. If the opportunity were there, something would be different at this moment than last night, or this morning, or at any point throughout this entire day. The opportunity is not there, the opportunity is in fact, here. The opportunity has been here since yesterday afternoon. Me, all alone in the house, drawers full of knives, a freezer full of binge food, and a wallet with enough money in it to make the wildest fantasies of the disorder come true one final time. But why?

Why would I choose to take all that I've worked so hard to attain and risk throwing it all away at the first opportunity that presents itself? This isn't the first opportunity that has presented itself. I know that. It's not as if I haven't been home alone with all of the opportunity in the world to engage in behaviors any number of times since I've lived here. This however, is the first opportunity I've had to stir things up without the comfort and solidity of the program to run back to at the end of the weekend. This opportunity is different because this environment is so much less controlled than it was before. I have no one to slap me on the wrist and encourage me to do better next time. This opportunity is open-ended and the knowledge that I know I would never get caught and never admit to anyone who could actually help me that I had slipped is exactly why this opportunity is not going to be taken. I hope.

The opportunity is still alive as I write this, and perhaps that's the exact reason that I'm writing it at all. Like a rusty razor blade putting a few moments of fresh air between myself and my next cut, perhaps these words will put enough space between myself and my urges and my craving for instant gratification that my family will get home and the opportunity will have finally passed. Opportunity for something to happen does not mean that it's going to happen, though an eating disorder is nothing if not opportunistic and there was certainly a time not so many months ago when an opportunity such as this would have been used to its absolute fullest simply because it existed. No need for deeper thought into what sort of emotional turmoil the need for instant gratification and numbing of the anxieties of the world stemmed from, the chance to engage would have been recognized and it would have been taken without a second thought. I've had more than a second thought about it this weekend. I want it. I can almost hear my name being called from the freezer in the garage where two half-gallons of my favorite flavor lie in wait, but somehow, amazingly, I'm sitting here writing this, aware of the discomfort and of the emotions that these urges seem to be a response to, rather than wrist-deep in the carton, momentarily blissful and numb to the world. I should be proud, but I'm too uncomfortable to be feeling that just yet. I'm still not out of the woods. Opportunity is still knocking.

Why is that flavor even in the house? Why would I do that to myself? What am I trying to prove? It wasn't necessarily my intention to make it home with the stuff and I probably should have just thrown it away on my way home so as not to tempt myself. But I saw that as just hiding from the truth, running away from reality, and giving power to the voices inside me that constantly yell that I can't. I can't run forever and if I don't have the self-control to sit in my house alone with something that I enjoy eating sitting in the freezer with out things developing into a disaster, then who am I kidding? Why am I even bothering with this charade? I brought it home to prove a point to myself and because apparently I love to play with fire and I love to be uncomfortable and I love to battle with my own thoughts and on some level, parts of me were hoping that I would make full use of the opportunity in front of me if I put one of the necessary components for a binge that much closer to the urges. What do I expect to do with it though? I know that I can't, at this point, hope to open that carton and have a normal serving of the stuff. Am I just going to let it sit in the freezer and allow the urges to build and the volume of the voice to increase to the point that I collapse under the pressure and give into the urges? What am I really doing here, what are my true motives? Am I really trying to prove how far I have come in recovery, or am I already giving into the urges and simply prolonging the inevitable at this point.

It's like a safety net for the disorder. The knowledge that my favorite binge food is sitting in the freezer at the end of the hall is like keeping the opportunity to engage in my back pocket for a rainy day. It's a terrible idea. I'm fighting it now, but on some level, part of me is hoping for some sort of emotional obstacle will present itself so that the disorder can chime in and remind me that I have the perfect opportunity to take an old coping mechanism down of the shelf, dust it off and take it for a spin. It's dangerous, and it's incredibly comforting in the same breathe.

But it's not about the ice cream being in the freezer, it's about the urge to do something bad with it and even more importantly, it's about where that urge is coming from. If the urge didn't exist, that ice cream could sit in the freezer as long as it wanted and just like any other normal person, I could enjoy a bowl when I felt inclined to do so without risking a landslide of impulsive behaviors that could signal the beginning of all of the hard work I've put in over the last few months flying straight out the window and me landing back in square one. It's about the urge, about the need to numb out, or to cry out in a way that I know no one will ever hear.

Why do I find the urges so strong these last few days, this last week, in fact? Envy. Envy is a big part of it, or so it seems. I see the people that I have become so close to in this process of recovery every few days and I talk to most of them quite often. They are my friends. Many of them know more about me than most of the people I have regarded as my friends in the past and when I need them, part of me knows on some level that they would be there for me if only I could ever reach my hand out for help. I am in a strange place, with no familiar faces, no connections and no history to build a life upon. It's exciting on the one hand, but it also means that at this point, the people that I know are the people that I met in the hospital. This is a double edged sword. These people are going through the same struggles that I am and so they are invaluable as support and it's comforting to know that I have friends who can understand some of the craziness that swims around through my head. However, there's danger in this situation as well, as I'm coming to find out.

I compare myself to my friends. I compare myself to strangers. I compare myself to everyone I encounter. I compare myself to people and I find myself in envy of the things I feel that they have that I do not, or of the things that they do not have that I feel I have too much of, as the case may be here. I'm struggling through this process of reintegrating back into a more or less normal life where I can manage the stress and anxiety of the everyday and the commonplace without relying on self destructive coping mechanisms and methods of communication. My friends are going through the same struggles and not all of them are finding that they are able to resist the persistent and persuasive voice of the eating disorder as the stress of life trickles back into their worlds. This struggle is incredibly difficult and not a day goes by that I don't want to run straight back into the familiar arms of my disorder and apologize for ever having been foolish enough to try to leave it's side. When I see the people around me struggling and engaging in the behaviors of their disorders, I feel many things. I feel sad for them, I feel sorry that there is not more that I could do to help them, I feel angry at their disorders for being so evil and so persuasive, I feel helpless, I begin to feel hopeless about my own chances of resisting these urges, and quite unexpectedly, I feel incredibly envious.

I feel guilty even writing that. Guilty, and worried that it will be read by my friends and interpreted in a negative way, that it will be taken personally. Stop, please, before you go to that place in your mind and know that I completely understand that you are not choosing necessarily to do the things that you do and I certainly know that you're not intending for them to have any negative effect on me. Remember, what you do cannot make anyone, including me, feel anything. I'm internalizing certain things and interpreting them in certain ways and having certain feelings in response to those interpretations and I'm just stating my observations here. That's all.

I don't feel envious. My disorder feels envious. It tells me that it's not fair that they get to engage, that they get to lose weight, and to feel those moments of mind numbing bliss during a binge, and that I don't. It's asking me, why not? What's stopping you from restricting? What's stopping you from binging and then inevitably purging? What's stopping you from showing the world that you're still sick too, in the form of some shiny new cuts? What's stopping you? The answer, I guess, is that nothing in my environment is stopping me but for the first time, I'm somehow stopping myself. There's more foresight now. I recognize that part of me is envious and that part of me really wants the instant gratification of a binge or of a cut, but for the first time, there is another part of me that is able to remember the panic, the guilt, and the shame that immediately follows these behaviors and that has managed to keep me on track even though I feel like I'm back in middle school, watching the kids who dressed in black, wore eyeliner, listened to explicit music, and refused to talk to adults, get all of the attention while the sick little boy inside me was buried under good grades and perfect attendance.

Am I doing the same thing now? Am I burying the cries of the sick boy when I should be allowing him to be heard fully for the first time? Should I really be doing as well as I am right now? Am I doing too well? Am I fighting so hard against these urges that everyone will once again forget that I was not well? Am I setting myself up to cry out in some way a few years down the road once again? Sometimes, I really feel as though I want to just say and do half the things that are really on my mind and see if somehow by getting it out of my system, maybe I can be free of it. I don't know if the belief that perhaps letting things run their course is part of eventually recovering is a belief created by the parts of me that want me to be sick or if it's a belief created by the parts of me that want me to get better but realistically doubt if it's ever going to happen.

It's been mentioned to me twice recently. This idea that I'm conveniently falling into the role of sick boy and that getting better means that I won't have this to fall back on any longer, that if I commit to recovery, I won't have this ace up my sleeve any time I feel as though I need to give up and take a break from life. I can't fully agree that I have been playing the sick boy card to the fullest. If anything, I've spent most of my life running from and trying to deny or ignore it's existence entirely. It seems to me that if it were so convenient to play the sick boy, people would have had some idea that I was indeed sick before I up and disappeared one day. It seems to me that if I really wanted people to have some idea of what was going on and wanted to reap the benefits of living off the system while my emotional distress was sorted out, I probably wouldn't have gone to such great lengths to hide my behaviors and cuts for so many years. It seems to me that I would have been using my sickness as a crutch for as long as I've struggled with it rather than surrounding myself with a world where my success depended upon my ability to contain it. I can't agree with the notion that I've conveniently played into the role of the sick boy. If anything, I would have to say that I have always recognized that this boy existed within me but my envy of the kids who seemed to move through life without this sick little voice inside them has kept me from listening to him for most of my life.

I ignored him so long and so effectively that his voice was eventually lost and the voice of the disorder first, and later the voice of the cutter would come to speak for this sick little child that has always lived within me. These voices have blown things out of proportion though, like a peaceful protest turned violent after years of being ignored by an oppressive government. Perhaps this really is about listening to the sick boy. The hard part though, is distinguishing whose voice is whose at this point and realizing that a cry out by the cutter or the disorder is probably in some way an amplified response to the needs of the child inside having been somehow ignored. I know it sounds crazy to say, but the voices of the disorder and the cutter are actually the voices of truth, somehow distorted out of control. They needn't be listened to any longer, but ignoring them would not be wise as they are present when something needs to be said and when a need burns within me that needs acknowledgement.

The opportunity has come and gone. The family is home. I feel a false sense of safety and security, knowing on some level that my recovery and my struggles are so separate from their world that their presence alone does not truly eliminate the opportunity to engage. I'm happy to realize though, that at this point, I am not so desperate to experience whatever those behaviors have to offer me that I am willing to put the extra thought into keeping my actions hidden while the family is around. And that thought, though it is not the most solid of things to stand upon, should keep me grounded until the next true opportunity presents itself...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

To Whom It May Concern

I just want to make a couple of things clear to you. First and foremost, this was not about you. The thought that you might be going about living your life believing that the things that happened that November night were because of you and that you could possibly believe that you were important enough in my eyes to make me harm myself as a response to the thought of losing you has kept me up many nights since then. I don't care if you ever see this, or if anyone even has a clear understanding of what it is that I'm talking about here. This, much like what happened that night, is for me. Not for you, not for him, not for anyone else.

Do you really believe that you caused it? It's incredible for me to even imagine that someone could think so highly of themselves. Did you buy the knife? Did you touch the cool blade to my bare skin and press down with enough force to pierce the flesh, then drag the sharp edge across my wrist; slowly at first, feeling it rip and tear as the flesh separated in the wake of the razor's edge? And then, did you strike faster, with more rage and less precision; short, deep jabs of anger that left white crevices which quickly filled with warm crimson before spilling over the walls of the wounds and trickling down to my palms where the blood pooled until it dribbled from my finger tips and spotted the cool night sidewalk like solitary rain drops pouring from a dark cloud of hatred and rage that swelled above? Did you do this, was it your hand that drug the blade again and again through my flesh so that the blood could pour from my wrists, out in the cool blackness of the lonely Berkeley Thursday night?

No. No, it was not you. It was me, I did it. I did it to myself and I did it for myself. Of course I felt anger in that moment, I felt rage as I have only experienced it once before in my life, but it was not my rage for you that drove me to seek the simple and precise relief of the razor. Do you think that I tried to kill myself? Is that what you believe? Do you actually think that losing you could possibly be worth me taking my own life. I'm sorry to spoil your fantasy, but you're not that important. I say that this wasn't about you, because it wasn't about you, in a sense. But to say that if you had been someone other than yourself and he had been someone else that the events that took place that night in the street outside of the hospital would have still come to be is also likely entirely untrue. So, to say that you did not play a role in this would be unfair as well.

This has a lot more to do with him than it does to do with you. Do you know what I felt when he told me what had happened between the two of you? I felt exposed and alone. I saw with a sudden sharp and painful clarity that I was insignificant and unimportant, that I was nothing special and that I didn't matter. To know that the person who I thought of as my closest friend could act in a way devoid of any consideration for my emotional well-being made the fact that I was worthless all too real and all too clear. I felt abandoned, alone, enraged, engulfed and overwhelmed by how very alone in the universe I had suddenly become. No, how alone I had only just realized I had always been. But more than anything, I felt responsible. Somehow the things which had happened were most certainly my fault and I knew this to be true without a shadow of a doubt. I knew this to be true because the two people who I cared so deeply for, who had claimed to care just as deeply for me, who had acted in a way that showed so little regard for my feelings, were still perfect. These two people were infallible in my eyes; even then, though my eyes swelled and blurred with tears, and though my thoughts were hazed by the rage and pain of deception and betrayal, I could see and feel one thing clearly: I had done something to deserve this. These two people, who I loved and valued so very much, who had proven their loyalty and dedication to me in my time of greatest need, would never do anything to hurt me. Would they? Never. No, they would never hurt me unless I deserved to be hurt.

I hurt. I hurt in that moment more deeply than at any point of my life, save for one, and knowing that this pain would only be delivered to me by the ones that I loved as a form of punishment, I knew in that moment of pain and confusion that I needed to be punished for the terrible things that I had done. The terrible things that would make the people that I loved want to hurt me so badly. I gave no thought to how illogical it seemed to punish myself for the pain that I was feeling by hurting myself; in that moment all I could think of was that I needed what was welling up inside of me to be released out into the night. I needed to be out of this space, needed to get out of his car, needed to be away from him, needed to scream louder than I ever had, in a voice that I didn't posses, and I knew exactly how I was going to do it.

I almost spoke to the man at the front desk. I almost stopped there and told him that I needed to be someplace safe for a little while because otherwise I was going to hurt myself, almost. But I saw it before me, the opportunity to take the events of the evening and use them as a scapegoat to punish myself for all the things that I was failing so miserably at in my life. The comforting control that I had with my body and weight had been recently ripped away from me and I was apparently a failure in my closest friendships as well, thinking that I had been trying to do everything right while all the while it seemed I had been feeding the fires of betrayal. I saw my opportunity and I took it. I walked in the front doors of the hospital and straight passed the man at the counter. I knew that there was another way out of the hospital. Casey did not. He walked me to the front door and I knew that I was free.

Thoughts of him and of you left my mind and were replaced only by the insatiable need to to hurt and to bleed, to mutilate, and disfigure, to punish myself for somehow ruining the relationship with my best friend. Pull yourself together Dez. Pull it together. Dollar Tree has exactly what you need to get the job done but no one in their right mind is going to sell a box cutter and a pack of razor blades to a kid that is acting like he's about to kill himself. Ignore your phone, it's her. She knows and she'll try to talk you out of this but she doesn't understand that you want and need this like nothing you have ever wanted or needed before in your life. She could never understand this.

Calm, cool, collected, the purchase is made. Am I going to kill myself? Am I really going to do this? I don't know, I'm not thinking that far ahead, all I know is that the cold edge of the razor cannot touch my skin a moment too soon. I feel so full of rage and hatred for myself that I might explode if I'm forced to sit with these emotions for one more second. I don't think to cut myself someplace that can be hidden, I'm not thinking that far ahead, I may never need to hide anything again after tonight. Tonight might be the end of all things, but I can worry about all of that nonsense later. Right now, I have something very important that needs to happen. Something that had needed to happen for many many days but for which I had encountered the perfect environmental trigger to hide these behaviours behind on the car ride to support group with a person who I thought was my truest friend.

A deep breathe, one final glimpse of a thought that resembled something to the effect of thinking about the consequences of my behaviors, and then, bliss.... Instant relief, numbness to all the pain and to the emotion, euphoria delivered by the tip of a knife. But the relief is fleeting and again and again and again, the blade finds my wrists and forearm in search of an escape from the pain of seeing my world come crashing down all around me. The cuts are simply not enough, though the blood drips onto the cold concrete, though it stains my shoes and jeans, and though it covers both of my trembling hands, it is simply not enough. The pain is back, stronger than ever now, coursing through every fiber of my being, only amplified by the rage and hatred that I've used to punish myself.

But this brings me to the other point that I want to make clear to you. If I intended to kill myself that night, I would not be writing a blog right now; I'd be dead. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and rest assured that if I ever decided that it was indeed the time to end all things, things would end. No, that November night in the streets of Berkeley was not about trying to kill myself. That night was about punishing myself for the terrible things I had done to the people who loved me, it was about screaming louder than my voice would ever allow me, and more than anything, it was about wanting you to suffer. I wanted you to feel and experience the hell that was boiling up inside of me, I wanted to share with you all of the pain, the rage, and the guilt that tore at my insides with the very thought of your face. I wanted you to bleed, and as the blood poured from my open wrists, I hoped to god that you could feel it. That night was many things, but it was not a suicide attempt.

If you really cared for me in the ways that you had once claimed, you would be able to feel this pain. I would share it with you. Yes, yes that's what I would do. You'd been calling me over and over again while all I wanted to do was bleed and sob into the night. Fine, you want to talk things over? Let's talk. I have no memory of what was said, the sound of your voice burned through my ears, down my spine and into my belly until I felt sick with anger that you even had the nerve to call and try to talk me down from this ledge after doing what you had done. I cannot recall what was said, but I believe I meant every word of it and I hope that it cut you nearly as deep as the blade cut me. And then, quite suddenly, I knew that it was time to end this call, to move on to whatever it was that came next.

The moment had passed, the emotions were subsiding and the reality of what had just happened began to wash over me in waves as if the cold night air were an ocean washing me up to the shores of the real world after being tossed violently about in a deadly storm of hatred and rage. I looked down at my arms through eyes still clouded by tears and saw the damage that had been done in it's entirety for the first time, there, bathed in soft moonlight, the blood beginning to dry and turn black in the cold air. "Oh dear, I've ruined my new shoes", I thought.

I was still numb to the physical pain and I could feel the urge building once more within me to open new wounds, to cut myself deeper, in an effort to replace the turmoil I was feeling inside with something more familiar and more tangible in the form of the burning ache of a fresh cut, but somewhere during the phone call, I had lost my blade in the blackness of the night and from some deep corner of myself, a voice of self preservation had begun to speak to me faintly and urged me to walk into the hospital. I had reached the end of this road, it told me. It was time to take the first steps down a different road now.

I called my mom as I stumbled toward the hospital doors and nearly threw up as I mentioned what I had been told as I had been driven to what I had initially expected to be an enlightening and educational support group. I heard the fear in her voice and I knew in that moment the exact reason that tonight had not been a suicide attempt. I knew that the very thought of breaking someones heart was so painful to me that I could never end my own life given the toll that it would take on the few people that truly loved me. Part of me already wanted to take back what I had done only moments before, wanted to erase the wounds from my arms and rewind the tape to the moment I had entered the hospital on the first occasion that evening. I didn't have a real reason to be there when I had entered those doors earlier that night. Now, I felt I had a legitimate excuse to request admittance to the psych ward.

Confusion. The man behind the counter was confused. Who was this young man standing before him covered in blood asking for help. I didn't know what to say, perhaps I didn't explain myself well enough, I guess the blood dripping from my finger tips and the blood oozing from the open wounds on my arms was not a clear enough message for him. "I slit my wrists!" I finally sobbed. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to say to anyone. I felt so much shame and guilt for the thing that I had done, only moments after the task was complete and I still feel it now. I question sometimes, how I am going to go through the rest of my life with these scars? How many times will I have to explain their origin, how many encounters will come to be during which someone sees them, but says nothing? Will I ever come to a point when I can where them not with pride, but perhaps without shame?

I was still pondering these things when the police arrived. Police? Why are they here, why do they have their guns out, why is a rifle being pointed at me? Memories of the night my uncle was shot by the police flashed through my brain and suddenly I found myself back there on that wooded hillside, looking down into the smoke left by their gunshots, trying to catch a glimpse of what had just happened. A blood curdling scream rang out through the night and I knew that those gunshots had found their target. But I didn't stay in the memory for long, I was being searched and questioned. Where was the weapon? What weapon? Oh, the knife, I don't know, I lost the thing somewhere out there in the night. You don't have to worry about me officer, I'd never hurt another soul... Only myself.

He was there again, waiting for me outside on a concrete bench, his head hung low, eyes filled with tears as I crawled into the ambulance. "I'm so sorry..." He mouthed the words as I glared at him with disdain and hatred hoping that my blood soaked arms were not escaping his gaze. Fuck you. I hope you hurt. I hope you feel all of this and I hope that this memory eats at your very soul and that you can't close your eyes without the image of your one time best friend's mutilated wrists filling your mind's eye. And wouldn't you know that the only thing I can remember from that ambulance ride is gazing at my reflection in the rear windows and thinking that I was disgustingly overweight and that this would all make so much more sense to the people around me and I would be so much more comfortable with this situation and with the days that were to come if only I were skinny. It seemed like a final cruel stab by the universe, to show me just how truly out of control my life was. I had nothing in that moment, not even a sickly figure to embody the emotions which I was feeling.

So why now? Why now, almost three months after the events of that night, do I find myself writing about them? Well, in truth, I've already written many pages about the feelings and the emotions that went through me that night but most of those pages are unintelligible babble asking what I possibly could have done to deserve such a punishment over and over again so perhaps I'm writing about it now because enough time has gone by for me to really examine what happened that night and see that I actually did nothing wrong to either of those people. It was certainly an unfortunate series of events that landed me back in the hospital and left me with permanent scars on both of my wrists but I can say a believe now that I did not do anything to deserve what those people did to me and I am in a place where I can fully own what I did in response to their behaviors. And, perhaps that night just happens to be on my mind because we are only a few days away from the next support group, which over the last two months has signaled an increased desire to reopen the wounds and to add to the carnage in a way that I tell myself will somehow be more satisfying. As if every wound that was properly stitched, bandaged and cared for while it healed doesn't count, I find a voice telling me that if I truly want the world to see the extent of the pain, I must cut again and allow the wound to heal with no stitches, glue, or tape. These scars are real, but in some corner of my mind, they are not good enough and it frightens me to think that they may never be good enough, that I may once again seek out the blade to validate the things that I'm experiencing.

Maybe now is the time to write about that night because yesterday the urge to cut was so strong that I found myself rummaging through the toolbox in the garage in search of the box cutter. I had the bandages laid out, with plenty of toilet paper at the ready to catch the blood before it could stain my bright white sheets, but to my dismay and frustration, the only blade I could find was covered in rust and even in that moment, nearly overwhelmed by the urge to bleed, I was able to talk myself out of a bad idea. It was by no means a voice of self preservation that talked me down, I simply reasoned that if I used a rusty blade, I would inevitably wind up with an infection and be forced to seek medical attention which would ultimately involve other people and likely land me back in the hospital when all I really wanted was to finally have something that could properly show and validate not only the struggles from that night, but the struggles I continue to face with each passing day. All I wanted was a scar to call my own, one that didn't involve you, or him, or the nurses, or the doctors who would see it as just another superficial cut that didn't do any real damage, the same way they had seen the cuts on my wrists. I didn't want any of that; I wanted it to be for me and only for me this time, and since the rusty blade almost certainly meant the involvement of someone other than myself, I found an adequate outlet for my frustrations on my bike instead.

But what does this all mean? It's not as if the urge ever goes away, nor does it always seem to exist as a response to an emotional stress or environmental upset. Sometimes, it just feels good to hurt and there is nothing in the world that can satisfy that hurt quite like the cold tip of the blade opening the flesh and leaving warm, crimson, euphoria in it's wake.