It was perfect once, long ago, in the days when old Catholic churches were castles and angels danced amongst the stars. I watched them, always dreaming, always wishing, finding myself so far away. I saw things then. A child’s eyes, so pure, so untainted, can see so many things. They never believed me, but then again, how could they? A “fairy” flying next to the car window became the joke of a half a dozen drunk men, crushing the dreams of an innocent child. I think that’s the day I grew up, the day I became a skeptic. Of all the horrors I had seen, all the violence I spent my nights listening to behind closed doors, nothing belittled me as much as that moment, nothing haunted me as much as their laughter. They taught me so much that night. They taught me to suppress the magic that was inside of me. They taught me to give up the sanctity of belief and to trust fear instead. They taught me not to be me. And through the years I have carried that taunting with me, holding onto it as if it were precious.
That weight of adulthood at 7 years old, that knowledge of cruelty, has held me down too long. I spent the rest of my childhood plagued by insecurities, always looking behind my back to see who was talking about me, who was pointing, who was laughing. I was, of course, one of their favorite targets. The boys, especially, loved me as their joke. Walking home from the bus with tears on my cheeks, hiding in my bedroom, dreading going outside. I wanted to collapse inside my bubble, survive solely on my fantasies of a world where I was different . . . better . . . good enough.
Through the already tumultuous teen years, I found myself slipping away into numbness. Awkwardness and low self-esteem found new meaning inside of me, so much more than the typical angst. But I found my escape. My addiction, so pure to me, saved me through those years. It started with an industrial razor blade I found on top of the refrigerator. I held it, almost in a trance, and stared at it for a long time. It was so natural, as if meant to be, to drag it across my skin, watch the blood flow as if it were happening to someone else. And for the first time in a long time, I felt something. I hid my scars well, always aware of eyes that were most likely not even watching me.
Things changed, life changed and yet I remained the same . . . fragile and scared. A new environment, house, family, school, a new life, a new start, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Only that my tool of choice became a lighter. Oh, the high I would receive watching the flame burn the metal, almost spiritual. And then pressed against my arms and thighs, pain seared through me in the shape of little u’s. It consumed me, gave me meaning.
I can still see those scars . . . nearly four years since my last self-inflicted burning and I can still see those scars, almost glowing . . . for my eyes only. They are there to forever remind me of the darkness that will always exist deep inside of me. But things are different now. I have found my inner peace, my serenity, my trust. And I can see now that those who once held me down only did so out of their own sicknesses. I no longer fear them; they have no power over me. And their words are meaningless. They cannot destroy me. I am still unsure of just exactly what I saw that night, as my father drove me home, most likely drunk. Whether it was a fairy, an angel, God or Goddess, it was there to protect me. I know now that it was always there and has not left me since. I still have not reached the point of seeing once again, but I can feel, and the warmth is overwhelming, enough to bring back that which I had lost. I smile now. I dance at bus stops and wish on falling stars. Let them point and laugh and talk about me behind my back. Let them have their vices. My self-worth is no longer dependent upon their validations. I am me again . . . and loving all of my imperfections!
***I wrote this on October 29, 2005. I reread it often. It reminds me of the darkness, but more importantly, it reminds me of the light. I certainly do not blame all of my troubles on that one experience, but it’s an experience that has never left me, and it certainly holds a special meaning. I wrote more about what it means, for me, to be an adult self-injurer several months ago.***