A Different Kind of Pain

I almost didn’t post this. I wasn’t sure if I should.

I’m not this person anymore. But I remember her very well.

**********

RemembeRED

It’s a fill-in-the-blank-for-your-own-prompt Prompt:  
The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing.
**********

A Different Kind of Pain
(The first time I cut after promising I’d stop.)

Ungrateful.

Selfish.

Worthless.

I sat on the edge of the bed, my hand clutched around the phone, thumb still lingering over disconnect. The echoes of his words hung in the air, making it heavy and thick. My whole body shook with the effort of breathing.

You don’t love me. You don’t respect me. It’s your fault I’m stuck here in this fucking desert. You don’t care what I’ve done for you. I gave you an opportunity and you just threw it away. I wasn’t shot at in Vietnam so you could be such a screwup. 

He’d stopped taking his medication.

Again.

He thought they gave it to him to shut him up. He didn’t think he was sick.

You and your mother, you’re conspiring against me. Don’t think I don’t know that. You both just want me dead.

He berated me for an hour, twisting my words and flinging them back at me. He ripped me apart with one delusional accusation after another, and even though I sat rigid, trying to be strong— trying to be stone— the tears came.

Don’t try to pull that crying bullshit. You can’t manipulate me like that. You aren’t as smart as you think you are. 

I stared at the phone in my hand. I hated him. I hated myself.

I wasn’t seven any more, but his words still paralyzed me. Even through a phone, he could back me up against a wall and recite my wrongs.

I couldn’t even disconnect the phone. Not until he stopped and I was shattered. Until he’d given me his permission to go lick my wounds.

Weak. The voice in my head spat the word at me.

I threw the phone to the floor and curled into myself, rocking, sick, aching. I had to do something before my skin turned inside out and my chest caved under the tight pressure of disgust.

I couldn’t hurt like this anymore.

My eyes flicked to the bottom drawer of my nightstand.

It had been three weeks since the last time. Since I promised I would stop. In three weeks, my wounds had turned to scars.

I opened the drawer and pulled out the tin lunchbox with Lucille Ball on the front. No one knew I had a kit. Inside was my salvation.

Bandaids, gauze pads, and a roll of adhesive wrap. A bottle of hand sanitizer. A washcloth— stained. Rubber bands. A pink thumb tack. An Exacto knife. Clean blades.

An orange box cutter.

I picked it up and turned it over in my hand, weighing the decision in the cool metal. Opening it, I ran my thumb over its blade. Just a little deeper and I knew I could trade the feeling in my chest for adrenaline and dopamine.

I could feel better.

I pulled my dress up over my hips and traced the blade across my upper thigh, leaving a thin, white mark.

Deeper. Harder.

Anticipation and guilt throbbed in my fingertips.

I want. 

I need. 

I shouldn’t.

Worthless.

Weak.

I held my breath and drew three hard lines down my leg— two for my father’s words and one for my own broken promise. Tears filled my eyes again as bright red blood rose in beads from the cuts.

I bit my lip and traced the line of blood with my finger.

I still hurt. But this pain, at least, I could see.

**********

My father isn’t a monster. He has schizophrenia and PTSD. Medicated, he’s fine, but unfortunately, the nature of his illness is such that he doesn’t trust the doctors who are medicating him. I don’t know, really, what goes on in his head. But I do know that unmedicated, he is mean and paranoid and delusional. It isn’t his fault.

But it’s not mine either.

I’ve been clean now for one year, seven months, and twenty days.

**********

wpid-rememberedbutton-2011-03-28-13-33.jpg

Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs

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16 Comments

  1. From Tracie said,

    June 21, 2011 at 7:04 am

    One year, seven months, and twenty days…..that is awesome!

    I know too well the seductive pull of the blade. I hope in your words, other people will find that they are not alone, and that they can conquer it.

    You are very strong!

    • bobbijaye said,

      June 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      I’m looking forward to the day when I lose count.

      I was so afraid to post this, just because no one talks about this kind of thing. It’s funny. I’m an advocate for OCD and mental illness, I’ve spoken about being a survivor, and I’m constantly telling others that silence solves nothing. But this? Well… what would be people think? I’m glad I posted.

      Thank you for reading!

  2. Frelle said,

    June 21, 2011 at 7:07 am

    you are bold, brave, amazing, and I have so much respect for what you just wrote here. I wish I could hug you. So many incredible lines, ones I could relate to, especially about being verbally backed up against a wall. So much raw, gritty, descriptiveness. So much soul deep aching, balanced with so much perspective and willingness to forgive him his wrongs. Amazing.

    • bobbijaye said,

      June 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      The perspective comes and goes, but it’s something to hang on to. Building an outside support system helped. Writing helps. And I don’t, on the whole, like him very much as a person. But I do try to make it work.

      Thank you so much.

  3. June 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Like Frelle said, you are so brave and amazing! I could feel your pain when I was reading this.
    So glad you’ve gotten help.

    • bobbijaye said,

      June 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you for reading!

      In the end, it was really my best friend’s daughter that did it for me. I’m too much a part of her life to be a poor example. If I’m going to teach her how to be a strong woman, I have to figure it out for myself first.

  4. Lilu said,

    June 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Stay strong, darling ❤ I could relate to so very much of this. I've only been clean for six weeks now. I'm very proud of you. I thought about writing with the same words filled in the blanks in the prompt but I thought to myself my writing has been too dark and I need to cheer up. This was very courageous of you to write about.

    Thanks for the read.
    I feel a bit stronger now, seeing how brave you are.
    Well done!

    • bobbijaye said,

      June 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      YOU stay strong! Six days, six weeks, six years… you take it one day at a time. Stopping will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and you’ll miss it, but you won’t regret giving it up. And if you ever need someone to talk to, shoot me an e-mail or a message. Really. Sometimes the hardest part is knowing that the people around you just don’t get it.

  5. June 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    You are a brave and strong woman. Thank you so much for sharing this story with all of us. I can’t imagine the strength it took to make the decision to post this, but I’m so glad you did. You are an amazing woman!

    • bobbijaye said,

      June 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Thank YOU. Every time I talk about this kind of thing, I half expect to be chased by an angry pitchfork-wielding mob. I appreciate everyone’s support.

      Like I told my best friend. If I’m going to put myself through writing this stuff, I’m going to post it. I can’t help anyone by pretending that my world is rose-colored.

  6. Amanda said,

    June 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Yes, that’s exactly how it’s like. Long time ago I started because of my father too but I quit for me.

    Congratulations!

  7. Galit Breen said,

    June 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I have chills. This was such a brave, honest post. Really beneath the surface. I truly admire that you came full circle to understand both you and your father.- this can be so difficult. You blew me away here.

  8. June 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    This was so brave to write. The clarity of how your father’s unmedicated self could harm you, the shriveling of your strength at his words, the survey of your kit. And the frankness of why you made the 3 cuts.
    Thank you for sharing this. not only was it so clean and well-written, it was a take on this prompt that needs to be shared.
    Wonderful job. And congratulation on being clean. You deserve it.

  9. Tina said,

    June 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Very powerful writing. Emotional.

    You cut. I drank. There are many ways to dull pain. We both know this, but there is no weakness in admitting that you are in pain.

    You are obviously not a victim; you are a fighter. A survivor.

    Truly, the best way to confront the monster is to turn the closet light on. Bravo.

  10. June 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I am so glad you shared this. I never really understood cutting. I was an alcohol/drugs kinda gal. But your writing, the time you took, slowing down your experience, really made it something I could relate to. Beautifully done.
    You also shed some light on schizophrenia for me.
    This is a powerful story. Start to finish. It really tells your truth, where you came from, what you’ve been through, where you are going. So powerful. Well done!!

  11. June 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    This was one of those rare pieces that made me uncomfortable because it was not only well written, but so honest that I felt like I was spying on you in your bedroom. This hit me on a personal level, I grew up with a step mother who developed late onset paranoid schizophrenia, and could relate to the difficulty in ‘knowing’ something, like that it’s your father’s disease that makes him ugly, and still not being able to stop the affects on your own soul from being treated horribly.

    You said in one of your comment responses that you looked forward to the day when you didn’t have to count the days anymore, and I sincerely believe because you want that, that day will come.


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