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.
“He loves me.”
He shared with me his secrets,
Hidden between kisses.
I stockpiled every last one,
Treating them like stained glass;
I avoided touching them,
But I loved watching the world
Through his colorful view.
~He loves me not.~
He only ever looked at me
Through a rainbow lens,
And it leaves me to wonder
If he saw me for who I am
Or for the person he wants to see?
Because through his kaleidoscope
Even a gray sky
Can be mistaken for
A perfect, cloudless blue.
“He loves me.”
He knew my body,
Ran his fingers over the war
I had scratched across
My wrists, shoulders and stomach.
His hands never shook,
And his warm touch
Felt like it was melting away
Every mistake I had made.
~He loves me not.~
But those scars weren’t mistakes;
They were choices.
Regardless of regret,
If I just let them disappear
Without confronting the reasons
I made them in the first place,
I’m not learning a damn thing.
In the end, his hands
Weren’t trying to heal,
But instead hide the truth.
He couldn’t love the scars
So how could he love me?
He loves me, he loves me not.
He loves my potential; he loves the thought
Of what I could be, the perfect future he sees.
He loves what might come, but he doesn’t love me…
Her hands trace over your body,
And as they move down your neck
The butterflies in your stomach
Melt into a solid mass
Of fear and uncertainty
For what her hands will find…
The scars you’ve tried to hide
In your summer hoodies
And forced affinity for jeans.
Her fingers reach your shoulder,
Burning a trail down your arm,
But the heat it quickly replaced
With an empty regret.
Reflexes kick in, and the tears begin,
Until you realize her hands,
They never stopped.
You expected a shudder,
A slight intake of breath,
But no; she never wavered.
She gave the same affection,
From your head to your wrists.
You know she couldn’t have missed it,
The war you’ve etched into your skin.
Yet she acted as if those scars
We’re just another part of you.
That thought alone
Is enough to make you cry.
You begin to pull away,
But she holds your arm in place.
Her touch is still fire,
And you feel that if she stays
You’ll both end up as ash.
Still, she won’t let go.
Even more so, her lips find your wrist,
And her fire has turned into the Sun.
It’s crazy, because you know,
Those scars are there forever.
They will fade, but never disappear.
But in that moment, you could swear
Those scars didn’t mean a thing.
The anxiety is still present,
But so vastly diminished
It might as well be gone.
And in its place, you find
A feeling you thought
You’d never find again;
The scars weren’t erased,
And who can say if her fire
Will be here to stay,
But for a moment, you weren’t afraid
And if you found it once,
You can find that feeling again.
Who knows; maybe one day
You’ll wake up and see yourself
And realize you’ve always deserved
You were coloring in my lights,
Drenching a binary world
A pallet of contradictions.
Unbalanced, indiscriminate yellow,
Stoplights shaded evergreen,
And as your lips buzzed my name,
I felt the edges of a wave
That promised to dye
My timid October orange
Every variant of the red
Lurking in my veins.
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’ve buried myself in the Baltic, burned into my skin this rough salt water. My shipyards left barren, the lighthouse now a beacon for shadows and shame. No bravery lives here. My dreams were left behind, so nothing but my terror remains, feeding off the eerie winds that sound during all seasons. These waves carry nothing to my shore’s; they only leech light during those rare sunny days, retreating into a blue so deep it’s like watching the Moon eclipse the sun. That blue is a darkness to numb my senses and dull this faint heart. I weep in the face of that brine, but I haven’t moved. I’ve made my home here, in this sea, far away from anything I could mistake as a reason to forgive.