Sleeping in is a luxury far removed from my reality. My bed still calls to me every morning, giving the utmost effort to hold me down. But this isn’t an act of kinship with my sheets, rather my sheets are hellbent on smothering me into nothingness. I’m laying facedown, surrounded in a sea of tumbling cotton, and every attempt from my lungs to dispel the CO2 coating my throat is pushed straight back down. In a matter of seconds, the warm air I’ve been swallowing has become a solid mass of fiery coals, cooking my flesh from the inside out. The only chance for relief would be to welcome the idea of sleep, but I know that with sleep comes dreams, and my dreams have been sifted time and time again until I was left with but a single scene. That scene also haunts me while I’m awake, but when I’m awake I can numb my feels through things like work, drugs or alcohol. In my dreams I can’t leave my own head, so it hits me full force. And it hurts. God, it hurts so fucking much. I know it’s just a dream, but it still breaks me. Every night it breaks me, and I’m forced to put myself back together in the morning. I have responsibilities, so I can’t waste any time. I know I’m not putting things back exactly where they should go. I know I’m ignoring my crumbling edges. I know nothing will get better for me if I don’t stop living like this. But this is all I know. This is the only way I know how to stand back up.
You aren’t here.
Even when I can’t feel you,
I am guided by you.
I know what you are;
Just a false light,
A fleeting sight,
But my eyes
Catch your fire
And my heart takes over;
I can’t move forward
My world remains opaque,
Where nothing exists
But the indent of your feet
On a path I can only follow,
Hoping that it leads me
Towards our new beginning,
Or to the end of me.
It’s never as bad as I think it is, until I take another look in the mirror. My stomach transforms into a pretzel as the realization “I can always get worse” really begins to sink in. The old scars are so faint now that if I avoid bright lights nobody could even see them. I still make an effort to wear long sleeves at family gatherings, but if I slip up it wouldn’t result in the immediate recognition of my bullshit habits. But those are only the old scars. Those date back 15 years. They have a long history, but I don’t remember any of it. See, I have the scars, even if they are barely visible, I still have them. Yet I don’t have any of the feelings that allowed me to kick and scratch my way into a lifetime of swimming with my shirt on. I can’t recall a single moment, just a general sense of wanting a way out. And I think that might be what I hate the most. Of all the memorabilia I have accumulated over the years, it’s my scars that remain. I won baseball tournaments, performed in spelling bees, got some of my first poems published when I was 10. I bowled a game over 200, managed to get an Eagle in the District Golf Tournament, and even found the courage to say “I love you” to my highschool girlfriend, and I meant it… I had all of that happen…or at least I think I did… After all this time I have nothing left from those memories but the memories themselves, and when they play in my head, I feel like I’m watching somebody else’s life. I can see it all, in fantastic detail, but I can’t relate to anything I’m seeing. I can’t connect that person I see to the person I am. The only thing I can connect from the past with today are the scars. I can draw a line from each one in order, using how faded they appear to judge how old they are. That map is extensive, traveling the distance from my left ankle up through my right shoulder, ending in a faint crescent on the front of my neck. And I am still adding more lines, treating my skin like a highway, finding the spots where the lines have worn thin and taking the time to add a fresh layer of paint. But this road can’t go on forever. At some point repainting the lines won’t be enough, and the road will be slated for construction. Everything will have to be stripped away, so fresh pavement can be laid, to provide a better path for the future. And I’m certain it’s my time. My road is at its end, and I need to stop redrawing lines and just rip the whole fucking thing to shreds.
So, what now? I’m at a tipping point, and I don’t want to spend another year, another summer, another second, wasting away. I want to be done dreaming. I want to see my world for what it is, and not what my pride twists it into. I know I’m not worth anything, yet my greedy ass still wants everything. I’m not willing to work for any of my desires though. I’m a sloth when it comes to putting effort towards anything, so failure is assured. That just leaves me feeling empty, and so my gluttony works to fill me up with whatever my hands can grab hold of. And through all the trash being stuffed into my big mouth, the empty hunger shifts to primal desire, and I’m transformed into a red engine of lust. Nothing can stop me now as I tear through body after body, treating souls like snacks, not even bothering to enjoy the feeling, living only to quell this desire for more red. Time ticks away, leaving my bereft of company, and so my lust twists inward, corroding into an envy for the crimson beneath my skin. Nails attempt to peel back this shell, but they are too slow. Teeth attempt to rip away this husk, but they are too dull. My jealously tapers my desire into a fine edge, and from that edge is born a wrath for everything that is me. Nothing is safe from that hollowed point; it will continue to cut away at my threads until all that remains are loose ends, soaked in a bitter cherry. And in that pool, filled with the contents of my own bleeding heart, maybe I’ll find the piece of me that desired forgiveness, or the me that wished for a home, or the me that knew what it felt like to accept love…or maybe I’ll find more of the same, and I can be at peace knowing I carved out that monster all on my own…a feat I can finally take true pride in…
I was so caught up in the rush, I didn’t bother to think about it at all. I wanted to ride this wave, to live in the fast lane, to never lose the wind blowing through my hair. I wanted it all so badly…that I never noticed. Well, more like I refused to acknowledge the facts. The wind, this ride, our moment in time…I thought of it as flying, but from the word go, this was nothing more than falling. So, given enough time, I’m going to hit the ground. I know that, but maybe I don’t care. Maybe I just want to enjoy this ride for all it’s worth, and I’ll be satisfied with only this. Maybe I’m riding this fall with so much enthusiasm because I want to hit the Earth that much harder. Maybe I want that fall to be so brutal that, not only will it cripple, but perhaps it will kill…Yeah, I think that’s it. I’m not being ignorant of the consequences, but in fact I’m counting on them. I know you aren’t good for me, but I don’t care. I’ll take you, all of you, and let you take not only everything I have, but everything I could ever have. It’s all yours, and for the low, low price of a few moments of your time, and some memories to cling to in my final moments.
It’s the beginning of August, so the sun it setting earlier and earlier. It’s something anybody can observe, but for me it feels more personal. I can feel the days becoming shorter, but for the first time in my life I’m okay with this. I used to want summer to last forever, and every year I looked forward to the next, and for a fresh summer. But I’m okay with this. Everything has to end at some point. I’m okay with ending. I’ll enjoy this last summer, these last bit of fireworks. I’ll ride until everything is closed. I’ll enjoy this fall until I crash. And I’ll make sure that crash is hard enough to ensure I’ll never have to crash again. I don’t care if you hurt me anymore, because pain only matters if you are alive to feel it. I’ll be okay, I’ll escape the pain. So I’ll enjoy the ride, for all it’s worth, until my fall finally ends.
I love the smell of water in the air. It’s so fresh, and it makes the air feel soft as I take a deep breath. That scent adds some sort of fluffy tail to the lasts wisps as they trickle in, tickling the back of my throat, making my lips curl towards the sky. It’s amazing how different my entire body feels when I’m wearing a genuine smile. It’s a feeling I recognize and cherish.
But just as quickly as that familiarity invades my bones, it also begins to seep right back out. That smell of water clicks with other wires in my brain, and I’m rushed into a common scene; me, in front of my bathroom mirror. My clothes lie all around me, and my eyes are focused only on my reflection. I’ve done a good job hiding the scars for years and years, but I can’t hide them for more than a day from myself. And the image I see in the mirror, it always hurts so much…
I love the smell of water, because I love being in water. I love swimming and floating in a lazy river. I love cannonballs and diving into the deep end and going down the waterslide 1 million times. I love playing catch, making insane dives off the pier thanks to the soft landing the water provides. I love relaxing on the beach, sprawled out on a towel, working on my terrible tan lines. I love chowing down on watermelon and popsicles and cans of root beer. I love all of that…I loved all of that…I loved the water when I was a kid. I looked forward to going to Turkeyfoot Lake every weekend. I couldn’t wait to spend an entire day swimming, followed up with barbeques and backyard baseball. I loved catching fireflies at dusk, and lighting sparklers when it finally got dark. I loved my summers.
I loved being in the water, so of course I love the smell of water. But now those memories make my stomach cave in, because I know what will happen now, if I tried to relieve any of those moments. So many questions would be asked, and I wouldn’t be able to answer more than a few.
“When did this start?”
Before my first trip to the lake, I was already cutting, but I was just starting. I made sure to keep things small and in more hidden places, like my thighs and legs, places people wouldn’t see so readily. I already understood at 9 exactly how fucked up this shit was.
“Why did you start?”
I don’t have a good answer for that. The best I can do is this: I started cutting after I stopped peeling my skin and biting my nails. I would pull the skin from my fingers in 1st grade, I remember. I peeled that skin until they would all bleed, and it drove my parents and teachers insane. So, to avoid being yelled at, I progressed to more subtle, accurate methods. A pen prick here, a tiny slash there. It was just easier to maintain.
“Why do you feel the need to hurt yourself?”
Does a cut hurt? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m sure a deep cut would sting. I’m sure if somebody stabbed me, or a samurai sliced my stomach open with his katana, I would be in pain. But these little lines running the length of my arm? Those don’t hurt. They are shallow, hardly breaking the surface. They look worse then they are. But to answer your real question, I don’t know why I feel like I have to hurt myself, especially when I know my scars will hurt others much more than they hurt me. Lately I think it’s because I know the more scars I have, when someone finally does see them, they will see so many scars that the hope they can help me will immediately be lost. Basically they have become a sort of insurance, a fail safe to ensure that I fail.
“Why do you want to fail?”
Because I want to die.
“And why do you want to die?”
Because I can’t fix me. I can’t fix who I am. Dying won’t make up for the horrible existence that is me, but I can’t make up for it by continuing to live either. So my choices are to either keep going, or call it a day. I need to call it a day. It’s what’s best in the long run, for the world and me.
“Then why are you still alive?”
…because no matter how hard I try, I can’t completely give up dreaming that I’ll find a way out someday…
“So what will you do next?”
I’ll think about change. Then I’ll talk about change. Then I’ll plan some changes. Then I’ll make some changes. Then I’ll slip up. Then I’ll slip up again. Then I’ll give up on changing. Then I’ll find myself at the bottom again, in awe of how the bottom just keeps getting deeper, and I’ll start the whole process over again.
“And what happens, when the bottom never comes?”
It will mean I’ve either grown some wings and taken flight, or I hit the bottom, broke both my legs, thus making it impossible for me to ever climb back out.
“And when you can’t climb back out?”
I stay down there, and I starve.
And then…. I can finally accept myself…. and I will finally be able to die…
I have a lot of things I wish I had said, but even more things I wish I hadn’t. I’m stuck in this strange realm between biting my tongue and using it to flick poison in your general direction. I’m caught in the middle, and I keep settling things with a coin flip, leaving it up to chance.
But flipping a coin isn’t as fair as you’d think. Sure, it seems like it should be random, but nothing is really random. If you understood every force impacting that coin, you could accurately guess the end result of a flip. If you could calculate the effect of gravity, how much force is behind the hand initiating the flip, and the when and where it’s landing, then it’s not going to be left up to chance.
It’s the illusion of freedom.
The reality is the second I decided to flip that coin I made my decision. So what happens when I am stuck between remaining silent or screaming until my throat is ripped in two? Well, fate takes a backseat, destiny decides to call off for the day, luck and chance have prior engagements, and serendipity just straight up fucks off.
I flip that coin, accepting the results. But I know…with heads or tails, it doesn’t matter. Because it will always land on a decision I will regret…silence or screams…they both end the same for me, so why even bother…it doesn’t fucking mean a goddamn thing, so forget it, forget me, and just…fuck everything man…fuck…