About a week and a half ago, I wrote and posted a poem called Memories that burn. A few nights later, I started writing something else, but I wrote it in chunks. A line here, a stanza there. They spit out of me and somewhere in that process, I realized that first poem was only a piece of a much larger whole.
When it was finished, it felt like it needed to be spoken more than it needed to be written. I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone (more like leap out of my comfort zone) and make a video. One week and about 30 takes later, I finally accepted the final product (with some help and encouragement from a good friend) and posted it.
Here it is!
I sit across from the doctor.
She holds her clipboard and crosses her legs.
I try to explain how my world is crumbling inside of me,
How thoughts of razor blades and lighters tiptoe through my head,
How the vision of tearing, burning flesh . . . is a pleasant one.
The doctor gives me that look of, “aren’t you a little too old for that?”
But she doesn’t understand that the broken child inside of me was never allowed to grow up,
The child who once wore the mask of wisdom just so she could get by
And now hides from a world she doesn’t know how to survive.
I want to ask the doctor if she can see the blood that drips from my wrists,
In my mind,
Or only the smile I wear
Every time I drag my ass outside.
Drag myself to this office, this couch, this place that’s supposed to help make me better
And a doctor who looks past me with an expression that betrays her boredom.
I am sorry my dysfunction does not entertain you.
I thank her for the half-assed advice that could’ve come from the fortune cookies
Delivered with my pork lo mien,
That I could have read without changing out of my pajamas,
Without riding 2 buses,
Without painting that pretty smile on my face.
As I walk out of her office,
Stopping to make a second appointment I have no intention of keeping,
I wonder if the doctor knows what it took for me to get to her office.
I wonder if she knows the fight I wage every time I open my front door.
I wonder if she knows how much easier,
And likely more productive,
It would have been to search out those razor blades and lighters instead.
I wonder if she knows that the only thing that keeps me from self-mutilation
Is fear of the shame I’ll feel later.
I wonder if she understands that the line between my desperation for relief
And my fear of shame
Is thin as the phyllo dough of warm baklava.
I wonder, if she had listened long enough,
If I could have told her that sometimes my thighs still burn
When nothing’s even touching them.
My scars radiate as if the lighter were pressing down.
I run my fingers across my flesh searching for those indentations,
Each one with its own bitter memory.
10 years ago . . . 5 years ago . . . 2 years ago.
Each relapse etched into my mind.
I wonder if I could have told her that I want to scoop them out with a spoon
And throw them away,
Each tawdry moment of desperation.
Because sometimes those thinned layers of skin are enough to transport me through time.
I know the setting of each one as if I were still sitting in those moments.
The couch at my aunt’s house as I talked to my boyfriend on the phone.
Sitting on my twin-sized trundle bed with the green sheets, teddy bear in my arms.
Lying in bed, while my boyfriend sleeps beside me.
Sitting on my living room couch,
Exhausted after a fight that left a dent in my dining room floor.
I wonder if I could have told her that the scars may fade
But sometimes they feel brand new.
That each one is its own photo album and home movie
Designed to preserve my shame, my darkest moments.
And I wonder if I could ever open up to a stranger with a clipboard and impassive expression
About the disease that crawls through my veins as if my blood were its last meal,
Or if maybe, just maybe,
I could find a more productive way to heal.