These are the things I no longer wish to understand. I can’t remember the first time I heard about it, but I can remember the first time I saw it. The methodical lines etched into her forearms, too many to count at a quick glance. We were at a summer camp and it was too hot to wear anything other than tank tops. I could tell the scars were old. There was no red, inflamed skin. The white lines sat atop her perfectly tan skin almost like tattoos. I already knew she cut herself, or at least had in the past. Hannah was very open with her life and befriended everyone in an intense, personal way I only did with people after years of trust. She was proud to have overcome such dark demons and tended to post about it on social media. At the time I though if I had been through what she had and come out triumphant, I might too. But the first time I saw it in person, saw the Facebook posts actualized on real skin, was at that camp. It reminded me of watching footage of destroyed homes after hurricanes. I felt a similar emotion too. A kind of helpless sadness. The next couple of weeks I would ask myself how someone could do that to themselves. I thought of what would have to happen to me to lead to that kind of violence. Where physical pain was better than whatever emotional pain was occurring. I couldn’t think of anything that would push me to that conclusion and gave up on ever truly understanding.
Years passed. I graduated high school and started college. The summer of my junior year I fell apart. I had no idea what I was doing with my life anymore. I had no passions or skills. I started to doubt my beliefs. And I was overcome with a loneliness so intense it shattered me to the core. It was that summer that, after an exhausting, stressful day, in a terrible week, in a horrible month I tried to take apart my razor in hopes of allowing the stinging pain to distract me from all my other problems. I couldn’t get the razor open and so a couple of days later, when the desire seized me again, I instead grabbed scissors and did a test cut on my palm. I then moved to my thighs. It didn’t feel great but watching the red lines appear on my skin made everything fall into place. The next week anytime I felt overwhelmed I would just run my fingers over the raised, red lines and feel calm again. The scars started fading and that scared me because I knew I was going to want more.
I still want to do it from time to time. And on the bad days I give in. I’m no longer trusted with scissors because I may hurt myself. My roommate hides them in her room like she’s child-proofing the house. Honestly, I no longer wish to understand the absolute loss of control and panic that leads to this.