When I was thirteen I tried to kill myself. I was in seventh grade the first time I tried, and just continued dabbling with the idea off and on for a year or so. I’d probably been suicidal for a while; and at the very least depressed for a good many years. The first time I actually remember trying to cut myself I was around five, and stood in the kitchen by myself with a butter knife, ready to do some serious arterial damage. Of course, it would have taken me an awfully long time to draw blood with a butter knife, but look, I was only five, I wasn’t schooled in the proper techniques of murder and suicide. By the time I was in seventh grade I’d at least figured out that I should use some type of sharp instrument. Had my family made more money, I might have had a nice little razor blade to injure myself with. As it was, my family was on the poor side, so we had nothing but disposable razors in the house.
There I was, with my little pink Daisy razor with the flowers all over it, slicing away at my wrists, getting the feel of suicide in my bones. The skin cut easier than I thought, and hurt less than I expected. The slight sting was more tantalizing than scary, and the blood oozing out was rather intoxicating. These first few times I cut were more flirtations with danger than real attempts at death, but they got me hooked fast. The adrenaline in my body, the tension in my muscles, the power I felt over SOMETHING in my life was a sort of intense little window of possibility, where the world lay open for me, and it was MY choice to live or expire. In my world, having a choice was not common. Tempting myself with death became a particularly seductive past time. It meant freedom.
I began cutting my ankles along with my wrists. The veins on my ankles were puffy and prominent, and I began to imagine that if I managed to kill myself this way, perhaps I would end up in the local news as some sort of two minute celebrity for a bizarre and tragic departure. Girl dies at age 13, wrists and ankles bloody pulps. I also took pills, though, because I wasn’t just into cutting. I actually did want to get out of my life situation, and if that meant getting out of life, I was amenable to that.
If I had known back then how bizarre and interesting my life would be, I can’t say for sure that I would have made the same decisions. Today it is raining heavily, the cloud cover so dark it feels like it is nine o’clock at night, when it is only lunch time for me. There is a dark, moody feel about the day; somber, pensive, romantically deep. My life is full of these moments – full of intensely beautiful days where the sky is so blue it hurts my mind, and the contentment in my heart seems unique to humanity. There are days where I feel desolate, empty, unloved and barren. Days that I wonder how anyone can choose to love me because I am such a challenge and an emotional roller coaster.
But this is life. Up, down, inside, outside, colorful, dark, dramatic, silly, intense, monotonous, and spectacular. Every year the trees change colors before my eyes in a wonderful parade of life and death. Every year the sun comes back in the spring, coaxing hiding animals and tiny buds on trees to burst open with hope and life, and continue the cycle that has been going forever.
Had I known about these wonders when I was thirteen – about broken hearts and dreams dashed to pieces; about disappointments and sorrows, love lost and love expiring; about passion and desire and intimacy; about laughter and acceptance and people that love you enough to talk to you in the morning when you have Christopher Walken hair – I would have laid my Daisy razor down in the shower, and kept it for shaving. I would have spared my skin the worry and nervousness. I think. Because life is hard, and wicked, difficult and damaging. But the beauty in life – and the POTENTIAL beauty – is worth the risk.
Life is an accidental and beautiful happiness.
I’ve been involved in a number of dangerous and life threatening situations. I’ve had someone choke me. I’ve had someone threaten to slit my throat open with a knife. I’ve been pinned to the wall. I’ve been hit in the face. I’ve had the aforementioned axe incident, where I was attacked by a man swinging an axe at me. I’ve been accosted in a public place, and THEN pinned to a wall. I’ve been pinned to the ground and assaulted. And all of this by different people, so it’s not like I got a handle on who was the consistent, reliable perpetrator. Soon, EVERYONE was a possible perpetrator. And eventually I learned not to allow my back to people. Because now my fear is that I will be attacked. It’s not like a conscious fear I’ve been aware of. All of these situations happened before my adult life, so I developed an undercurrent of thinking that involved people wanting to kill me. Because it seemed like that was the big thrill everyone wanted to get in on. So I became afraid of sitting with my back to people in a restaurant. I became nervous riding full busses. I heightened my awareness and threw up a bunch of walls, and tried to be sure I could see everything around me when at all possible. At least this way if some giant of a man comes at me wielding a sharp instrument I will be ready. This time I will be prepared to die.
Even with all of this vigilance, I haven’t been able to necessarily fend off the death threats. I’ve had two people talk about killing me while I was at my workplace. And several stalkers in my time. And now I’m being asked to sit at my obviously inferior workspace and allow the world to come and slit my throat from behind.
So I’ve been having numerous meltdowns. I cry all the time. I almost fainted at work when I showed my sister my horrid little hovel. My heart rate has been incredibly off the charts for days now. I’m twitchy and nervous and fearful. I hyperventilate when I’m brushing my teeth in the bathroom. And lying on the couch. And making a sandwich. I’m soft and sullen and wounded. I have a perpetual woeful look on my face. Or I think I do…I haven’t been looking in the mirror a lot, but the facial muscles I’m using FEEL woeful. Yes I know, they’ve told me they will work on it. It is hopeful that I will be able to turn my desk a different direction, even though I was told this was NOT possible the day they told me about this whole situation. So maybe it won’t be as bad as it was presented to me. Maybe after a while I will realize that the situation isn’t horrible at all, and I just worked myself up into a lather over the idea of imminent death, when the Death wasn’t really knocking at my door at all. It was just the Avon lady, maybe, with my order of frizzy hair control product.
Still, for the past five days I have been a bundle of nerves. Which just makes me have to run to the bathroom to get sick. Oh yeah! This might be one of my alters, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned her or not yet. Nervous Nellie. Hi, glad to meet you. If you couldn’t tell, Nervous Nellie has had plenty of things to be nervous about, and now she gets to go to work in this state of anxiety and tension, and try to perform menial tasks and duties, like walking and getting a drink of water.
On the positive side, I have been wanting to learn to let people in to my life, my world, and my heart. I wasn’t planning on doing that by becoming a vulnerable, messy, wreck of a human right in front of everyone I work with, but there you go. Now the poison’s out of the bottle, it’s not like I can shove it back in.