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.

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