I’ve felt this and lived this. I have trouble watching this video because of all the loving touch and kissing and cuddling in it. It makes my wounds ache like salt was thrown into them.
I’ve been spending more time at the gym. Of course. Because what do I do when life throws me problems? Bench press. Duh. Or run laps except I can’t because I’m still injured and we’re on the year mark anniversary of that. But something happened last week that shocked me and scared me really bad.
I’ve never cut before. But then I did. And it felt better. I don’t know what possessed me to do it. I guess I got scared because I read all about how anorexia will mess with my bone density and fertility and blood and my period being absent is a sign of that and it means I may never really get to run again so I was crying on the floor absolutely lonely and depressed and I thought how can I make it stop. And then I had something sharp in my hand. And it was like running. Just for a few hours my pain inside felt better because I could focus on the pain like fire on my left arm.
I knew somewhere deep in my mind that it was wrong to cut myself but I couldn’t feel upset. I couldn’t feel anything. I was as numb as if I had no feelings. Some pain filtered through the dark water occasionally but nothing else. I had even been praying right before I cut. And then it happened again and again. Morning. Night. Morning. Night. The cuts weeping tears of blood across my once whole skin had a sense of rightness in their very wrongness. The broken skin was an outward symbol of the heart broken within. Of the inability to express the very pain that was ripping me apart, of the mental illnesses ravaging me inside.
I prayed for the right person to notice the marks. A few people noticed. Now when I talk to them they won’t look at my arm. They shudder. They draw back. They’re disturbed by my reality. Grown men who profess to know everything, who profess to be strong and good people, flinch away from my cuts as though bitten.
Teddy Bear noticed. The big gentle Samoan guy who I am friends with. I wear ducttape over it to the gym and for once he and the guys came. They invited me to eat breakfast with them. Sweat had rendered the ducttape useless so I tore it off and went to the café with them just to get soymilk so I could come back and work on the elliptical.
“Your problem is that when it hurts, you turn inward. You don’t come ask for help. You go running or you cut yourself. It’s like an addiction, it only works for a little while and then you have to get your next fix. You punish yourself for things that aren’t your fault.”
And he reached over and took my arm and turned it over, tracing the edge of the cuts gently with his thumb.
Another day they came to the gym I was doing weighted pushups Teddy Bear sat on the bench next to me, he reached over and felt my bicep and asked how I was. I told him I was tired. I’d had nightmares all night.
“What were they about?”
“They’re just nightmares”
I turned away and let my weight fall into pushup position.
“No, they are real. It’s all memories from my past.” I pushed up and lifted the weight with one arm.
“You’re a hard-working girl.”
That day when I parted ways with Teddy Bear and our other friend he smiled and said “Love you.”
I couldn’t say it back because I can’t feel anything but I liked to hear it just the same. Teddy Bear winks at me because it makes me pull faces, notices me out of the crowd. He said something interesting to me. He said no person we meet is ever by accident. That maybe God was taking care of me by making a soft spot in his heart for me and that other people were here too, to help.
Teddy Bear was the one who held me that time I cried in church and one of the ones I told. It’s hard for me how much he reads about my personality, my pain, just from observation. I don’t see him that often but every time I do now I realize he sees more than I like to show. I only know a few people like that. It’s hard not to just throw myself at him, crying, when that’s what I feel like doing, but it’s too hard to give right now.
I wonder how many times people have seen part of my pain and kept silent. How many times I’ve done that to others. Just let them walk by without reaching out my hand to help. If I could tear off this bandage and show what is beneath. Walk with my wounds and scars exposed, fully confident that no matter who stuck a knife into them, I’d walk out okay…
Teddy Bear is a very soothing friend to me. If he didn’t remind me so much of my linebacker maybe that would be okay.
Just this morning with sweat pouring down my forehead, braids slapping across my back as I pushed the elliptical way harder than it wanted to go loneliness hit me like a sack of flour across the chest and I felt the cold drowning me. I got a heating pad and tried to listen to music. Read a book. Anything to distract myself from the depression. I cut myself. But it wore off too soon. I just want a hug. That’s the medicine I need today and I hope God provides.