The red cuts of the night
Shine as pearl scars in the light
Somehow, she whispers to herself, tangling bony fingers into her hair, knees tight against her ribcage, somehow I’m going to make this work
There’s vomit in the toilet
There’s a bloody razor blade on the floor
Blossoms of blood bloom in ridges on her forearms
The phone is ringing but she has no strength to answer
The darkness is absolute.
The scriptures are lying open on the tile floor.
Rain patters on the windows and the scent of plumerias wafts in
Her stomach feels tight and uncomfortable and then it rumbles in starvation.
She cradles her tummy hoping to sleep, curling her form around a small nest of stuffed animals.
Her dark hair runs in tangles down her back.
She was too depressed to brush it.
Outwardly, covered in a sheath of clothes and the veil of a smile, she seems okay.
But the hellish nightmares don’t end.
The panic attacks that leave her screaming and crying on the floor, body aching from the choking sobs and wails of her body
The clothes she had to give away. Just a number.
She remembers brushes of the past before she was this bad. She remembers being curvy. Feeling.. happy. And comfortable in her own body.
Now her body is a prison. Something is wrong with it and she doesn’t know how or when or why any of this is hurting.
The doctors say this pill can fix it but that pill nearly killed her.
She’s lonely. Even when other people are around she’s not really there. She’s suffering.
The pain is like a rainbow path into another world.
One that’s dark. And cold. Where her heart is so broken that even breathing feels like her lungs push into shattered glass. Her heartbeat slows to a near stop. It’s agony to move. Agony to breathe. Agony to keep her heart beating.
It’s a surprise to her when she “wakes” slightly out of this pain and briefly reconnects, numbly to the world she is actually in where the people around her aren’t thinking about being raped or vomiting their food back up.
Where people have goals like get married, have children.
Her goal is- survive. This illness is killing her and all she can focus on is survive. If I keep breathing. If I keep breathing, then I will conquer.
There is hope that maybe someday I won’t hurt so much. That maybe I can escape this world like death and live fully in the present.
But with the razor blade dripping with blood and the vomit in the toilet, the tangled hair spilling across the cold skin of her back…. Drowning in black water. Cold below her bones down to her very heart. Darkness in her heart that won’t out no matter how many cuts she makes or pounds she drops.
Sometimes, she thinks, looking at a cupcake, I think that I just want to fade away.
But the deep deep part of her that is the survivor says listen, bitch, we didn’t come this far to quit. And she flinches from the blow but the blow is enough to get her to look away from the cupcake and say okay fine. I know I’m going to want to throw up but I will eat a tortilla wrap today. I will buy nutrition shakes and I will put them in the fridge.
I will fight.
But sometimes there’s not much fight left in her. That happens. She gets beat down and blindsided by this illness that breaks so much within but only reflects slight damage without. She wants to call out for help but she’s forgotten how. Her mouth won’t move to give voice to cry out “help”. She waits.
One of the worst heartbreaks is when she does manage to cry out, and no one comes.
Or when she talks to her doctor and her doctor says “You can’t ask anyone else to take care of you” And she wants to look into his face and scream “I’m DYING. You expect me to take care of myself? Believe me by the time I actually use the word help it’s time to call the ambulance. I have always taken care of myself and that is part of what made me so sick.”
But the real reason for her fury is that late in the night that is exactly the lie she tells herself. I’m not worth helping. How could anyone love me? I am so broken. I’m worthless. And fat. And tired. If I need something I’m the only one I can count on. Everyone else leaves.
She takes comfort in control. In the weight loss and the cutting. Then sometimes others can see that something is very wrong and those outward problems bring help just to get her through one more day. But how many just one more days will there be? How long can someone survive like this? And even with the cuts on her arms and the bones protruding through her skin people whisper that she does this for attention, that her illness is her own fault, and turn their backs on her. They don’t know what to do or what to say so they leave her.
Her body is sending warning signals. The period is gone. The bones are cracked. Dark circles under her eyes. Hollow. Her body is saying my God feed me, her body is crying out I need to be loved and cared for I am starving to death. I’ve never been held or cared for and I can’t meet my needs on my own. I’m hurting! I’m hurting like hell and I can’t make it stop. God there must be some way I can heal. You promised me answers and comfort but I feel nothing. Where are you?
The body aches for more than food. Food is just one thing that is wrong- that as soon as it reaches the mouth it tastes of ashes. Food is hated. Food is a reminder of the times when her body was smooth and curvy and she was happy and now a bitter reminder of all that has been lost and the fight she has not yet won. And the body craves to be touched. Somewhere deep inside she remembers when she was little before the rape touch used to soothe her emotions, bring comfort, and make her feel safe. Now, when she is stressed out and depressed beyond any human limit she is in the throes of despair and will do or say anything to make it stop just for a moment. To get some “fix”.
She wants someone to cradle her like a child. Just hold her. Stroke her hair. Kiss her forehead. Say it will be okay. Or maybe I’m here, don’t cry, you’re safe now. She wants to feel protective arms around her and the warmth of another just to make the cold go away, to make the voices stop, to soothe the pain she is constantly in.
But the doctors say she can’t have that either. They say that if she relies on another person for touch right now she’ll become addicted to that too. That she needs to stand alone and figure this out.
But how can she stand alone on a broken leg? She is crawling for help, weakly crying out God help, wishing for death or happiness or just something beyond this icy hell she’s been trapped in for so long. She can’t remember what it’s like to not be hurting.
The world is so confusing with a clamor of voices and medicines and “miracles”. Eat more blueberries. Take this pill. Do yoga.
Happiness seems further away than ever before.
She’s seen death and rape and horrors beyond anything most 19 year olds could endure. She’s lived and battled through wars of the mind and soul that 99.9% of people would not have survived.
And there she is. Sitting on the floor of a dorm room far away from her home, cold, lonely, and hopeless. And all she knows how to do is keep breathing.
How long she can survive like this she doesn’t know. How long she’ll be afflicted like this, she doesn’t know. All she knows is “listen bitch, we didn’t come this far to quit.” So she doesn’t commit suicide. She doesn’t down the pills. She waits. She takes a breath. She exhales. She waits to rise above the dark waves and see the sun again.