“Your scars are beautiful”
Do not tell me my scars are beautiful
I did not do this to myself to look beautiful
To appeal to some fucked up
perception of what beauty is
What scars are
What scars represent
Was I beautiful when I was biting my lip
pressing scalding metal to my flesh?
Was it attractive when my mom laid me down on the floor
blood pumping from my arm
the day I went too deep?
Would you tell me I’m beautiful if I didn’t have scars?
Would you have looked twice at me
without the crisscrossing white lines
and the purple blotches?
Wouldn’t it be sad
if the most beautiful thing about me
is the hate that I carry on my body?
“Scars are tattoos with better stories”
Better for who?
Nobody looks at my arms and sees
a good story
A good time
A good memory
Looking at myself
I read the stories
Stories of chaos
Stories of pain
Some marks I remember making so clearly
Others are a mystery
Some of the lines spell out thoughts
Short blurbs of my conscience
on my calf
across my chest
“Die” or “Death”
on my stomach
on my right thigh
on my left
on my arm
“I know better”
on my leg
Looking at my tattoos
I see the stories there too
Stories of hope
So tell me
How are scars better stories?
Are they preferable?
I’d rather hand over some cash
for an inked man to press needles to my skin
Than give up my life
to take a razor to the same skin
“Never be ashamed of your scars”
Am I to be proud?
If I had harmed anyone else
the way I harmed myself
would you tell me
not to feel remorse?
Why wouldn’t I be ashamed?
I am living on the border
of a society that glorifies my behavior
and a society that condemns it
will ever understand
“Maybe you should cover your arms; kids will be there.”
“Are you emo or something?”
“Why haven’t you just killed yourself?”
“You’re cute. Messed up skin kinda doesn’t help you though.”
“What are you going to tell your kids?”
“Why are we on a team with the emo girl?”
“Stop trying to get everyone’s attention.”
“Why are your sleeves rolled up?”
“I wasn’t going to tell you, but that looks really ugly.”
“You’re wearing a jacket to homecoming, right?”
And today in a coffee shop:
“Have some self-respect.”
This remains the best poem I’ve ever written. It still hits just as hard today as it did when I was 17.
I just want to lay here
This is her body
Which one am I?
What right do I have to live or die
or sink or fly?
to destroy myself when I am not mine
or be the one to decide if things are fine?
And if things are fine
why the destruction?
corruption of construction
Blood-filled gashes too late to salvage
so limbs lost in this battle of mine
this fight to find a piece of mine
some peace of mind
And sleepless night by sleepless night I wrestle
with this idea of being such a tortured vessel
this mass built up only to contrast
a pointless past where nothing lasts
Because all of these memories that cease to be
must come back
but for what?
None of them can prove to me what I’m worth
if worth a…
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My 19th birthday was on Friday (the 15th). Birthdays are always exciting, and it was good to see friends and family. But just like last year, there was a hole, a vacancy. It’s been 1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day since my best friend ended his life. I feel stupid for focussing more on who is gone than who is here now. It just feels impossible to see past the absence of Isaiah.
Recently I’ve been experiencing a lot of guilt related to his death. I feel like there’s so much more I could’ve done. I could have talked to him that day, I could have done or said something more meaningful when I was with him the night before, I could have done this, I could have done that. Bottom line is that I honestly think that I could have stopped him. Logically, I know that it’s irrational to blame myself, I know it was his choice, and I know it’s not my fault, but there will always be that doubt and that “what if”.
Isaiah gave this to me for my 17th birthday, a little over two months before he died. Looking at it now, it’s really sad. There are so many questions. Why wasn’t I enough? How good a friend could I have possibly been if I let this happen? If I understood him, how did I miss the signs? I’m angry, but I can’t tell if it’s at me or him. I think it’s me. I have a really hard time being upset with him, so all my anger gets directed inward. But what sticks out to me the most are the lines “We’re different in many ways, but we have so much in common.” It’s true. Isaiah and I had a lot in common. We were the same in a lot of ways. And I guess that’s what scares me the most.
The following is a narrative of my experience and thought process on a particularly rough day last year that I found in the “notes” section of my phone. May be triggering or disturbing to some people. However, these types of thoughts remain relatively normal for me.
Written January 3, 2013
Cross streets randomly without looking
Maybe a driver will take care of this for me
Who am I kidding?
It’s noon in Strasburg
All cars are going 25
Maybe an Amish buggy could trample me
“How are you?”
Why do I still smile?
Memories on this street
Turn up music
Drown it out
Avoid familiar sights
Pretend I have someone to text
Feel tears fighting
How many calories am I burning?
Jump in front of that car
I can see the shadow of my lanyard in my back pocket
Bowling alley we used to walk to
Used to jump on the cord by the gas pump to hear the bell ring inside
Through abandoned parking lot
Why haven’t I washed this sweatshirt?
I smell like blood, weed, and axe body spray
What does blood smell like?
Why is the pharmacy so crowded?
Same woman working that filled my prescription
She knows more about my mental state right now than any of my friends
It’s becoming obvious
Old Amish ladies glare
Probably think I’m going to steal something
Probably wondering why I’m not in school
Probably assume I’m a drop out
I look like a fuck up
Why is Neosporin so expensive?
I don’t care that much
I wouldn’t remember
How do you treat burns?
Gauze pads, gauze rolls, whatever
Utility knife with extra blade
I have two razors in my pocket anyway
I don’t care
How obvious is this?
That would throw them off
Diet coke? Lunch
Smile at an old lady
I swear I’m nice, just mentally ill
So many pills
Buy them now
Where are blood thinners?
Need blood thinners
They make it easier to bleed out
I look so sketchy
What the hell do blood thinners look like?
It’s easy today
No I don’t need to make this clearer
They wouldn’t know
Is my hair weird?
Could I drink fabric softener?
I’m an organ donor
We found you a donor
She was a 17 year old suicide
But luckily for you
Your kidney is soft as a baby’s bottom and resists static”
Wish I could buy a lighter
Steal a lighter
Utility knife, extra blade
10 large gauze pads
1 roll of gauze
How do you even get to 32? Whatever
She knows what you’re doing
Fuck I can’t put my change back
Look, she’s watching
She thinks you’re stupid
She’s giving you the Posh Spice glare
Bills have to be in order
Piece of shit
Why doesn’t this bag have handles?
I look like a fucking loser
Run to that street
Text from mom asking if I’ve eaten
Don’t want to walk back this way
Am I bleeding through my jeans?
I should get sent away
I should tell my mom
I’d get drug tested
I like this
Not everyone makes it
Not another week
Sign says “in God we trust”
Isaiah loved the shit out of God
Turn it up
The sun’s coming through my bangs
It’s cold as shit
I feel like I’m in one of those walking-down-a-cold-street-hood-up-alone scenes that’s in music videos
The people in these cars are staring like there’s something to see
What? Can’t figure out my gender?
Me either bitch
Why doesn’t this bag have fucking handles?
This is it
You just cut that lady off you inconsiderate brat
She smiled but she hates you
They all hate you
Who calls you that?
I do bitch
He never loved you
No one ever loved you
Walk through the intersection
The cars don’t even want to be near you
They think you’re ugly
How long has this been?
An hour and three minutes
Van in the parking lot
Ride to a market in the back
Shut it down
Get it out
Jump bitch jump
I need a shot
If I get hospitalized I won’t pass
They don’t want you
Sick of dealing with you
Whispering about you
Is that where I’d go?
Shit is that car my mom?
Text from Lauren
Why’d I get her involved?
Used to play all up and down this street
Fucking weak shit
You could’ve stopped this
No one wants you
God just stop this
I can’t cope
I need help
You don’t deserve it
I need help
When did I get on the curb?
I can’t stand
Stop crying you bitch
How many times did we sit here?
Now I’m alone
Go with him
Slit your throat
You have what you need
Just let me die
I’LL KILL YOU
Stab yourself in the neck
They can clean up the blood somehow
Don’t let them see you
They already know
Do it now or they’ll lock you away
They’ll lock you away
They don’t want you
Mom wants therapist to do it
Therapist wants someone else
They pass you around because no one can help you
You’re dead already
Don’t give them hope of saving you
No one will have to find you
Why can’t I get up?
Why can’t I breathe?
Get me out
“The lucky curb”
Fucking faggot kill yourself
You’re an embarrassment
Slit your wrists
Someone see me
Someone save me
I’m not okay
I’m a liar
I’m a fake
I need you
Where are you?
Why can’t you care?
Someone see me
They all see
They see and think you’re disgusting
Get inside your fucking house you cunt
Waste of space
Text from mom asking how I am
I’m always okay
I’m always fine
You know where the pills are
You have the blades
You have a belt
Or a cord
Ask for help
Crying for help
Waste of time
As my dog, Kipper, enters the final stages of his life, I find myself bracing for another loss. His health has rapidly declined and he is no longer able to enjoy the things that he loved so much. He is barely functioning. Right now, the plan is to take him to the vet tomorrow. There is really only one option left. He will be put down then, assuming that he can make it another night.
I’m feeling utterly hopeless about the situation, and that pretty much translates to my life in general. He’s struggling, and there’s nothing that I can do to fix that. I can’t keep him alive. Sure, I can pet him and talk to him, I can offer him food or water, I can help him stand up and spot him as he hobbles around and falls, but in the end I know that that’s not going to be enough. Even though I know that this is on a much smaller scale, my helplessness with Kipper brings up so much of the helplessness that I experienced with my three friends’ deaths, especially Isaiah’s. I can do my best and try my hardest, and at the same time I have to know that that won’t save anyone. I’m not enough to stop death. No one is.
Kipper would have been 14 in two weeks. We got him in 2000 when he was a puppy. I don’t have too many memories of a time before him. We basically grew up together. He’s been one of the few constant things in my life since childhood. Back when things were really bad in my house, Kipper would try to protect my siblings, my mom and me. He’d bark like crazy when my dad would make an aggressive move or start yelling even though that often directed the anger towards him. He has always been pack-oriented and focused on his people.
Sasha Fierce, my 5 year old dog, has been watching out for her older brother in recent days. It’s sad to see her stand over him like, “Come on, get up!” I can’t imagine what it will be like to only have one dog again. I’m sure I’ll lose it when Sasha tries to look for him. I’m tearing up just thinking of her being alone (well, we have a cat, but she’s a heartless sack of lard, so she doesn’t really count).
Kipper has put up with so much bullshit that comes with being a member of the Ressler household. From snapbacks and party hats…
to being vacuumed…
to even a brief stint as a Miley Cyrus impersonator.
He’s been through it all. And needless to say, I’m pretty crushed. As much as I’ve joked about Kipper’s cancer and deafness and trouble walking and even his death, I am not at all prepared. I’m not sure what to do other than spend time with him and try to make the upcoming hours as comfortable as possible for him. I guess that’s really all that I can do. I’m angry. I’m really, really angry that death is a thing. Like, seriously. Why do people and animals have to die? It’s not okay. None of this is okay.
I love you, Kip.
I was discharged on Wednesday from a psychiatric hospital called Philhaven. This was my eighth hospitalization for those of you keeping track. I was there for a total of nine days, which is very short compared to my last three stays which were 37, 35 and 75 days. For such a brief period of time, a lot of shit went down.
For the first couple of days, I hardly left my room at all. Sometimes I would go out for meals, sometimes I wouldn’t. I just faded in and out of consciousness in my bed all day and all night with the occasional journal entry here and there. I didn’t go to any groups and I really only got up if someone asked me to.
After a bit of that, I decided to sit out in the common area one night because they were having a makeshift birthday party for one of the women. At first, I just kind of sat there and stared at people. People watching in a psych ward is pure entertainment. But once I started talking to people more and playing games and whatnot, I began feeling a lot better. Whenever I isolate, I forget how great it feels to be around good people, and there were a whole lot of awesome people at Philhaven. Some not so awesome of course, but that’s besides the point.
A couple days into my stay, I experienced the rapid deterioration of a very important relationship in my life. I was crushed and left with all the time in the world to think about it, cry about it and get suicidal over it. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I struggle a lot with abandonment problems. I tend to assume that things are happening or going to happen when in reality that’s completely false. When faced with any kind of loss or rejection, my mind jumps to suicide. Feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness cloud everything I do as I try to cling desperately to anything I can hold on to. There came a ridiculously rough day for the relationship, and after that, I waited by the phones each day in case the other person tried to reach out to me. A call never came.
My psychiatrist switched up one of my medications, although now I’m rethinking my decision to allow that to happen. She made it seem like the only possible side effect of the medication that I was being put on was nausea. She really talked it up, like it was so much better than the antidepressant I had been on for over a year. But after hearing things from other patients and even a pharmacist, the cons of the medication are greater than I had originally thought. I also found out through blood tests that the mood stabilizer I’m on is making little progress. The level of the type of acid that it’s supposed to influence was significantly sub-therapeutic. This was discouraging because I’m on a higher dose of that medication, and I have been on the next highest dose before and it made me shake like crazy. I wish all these medicines were unnecessary.
One of the most relevant things that happened during my stay was related to a point that my therapist at the hospital made. I’ve been pretty much avoiding the underlying issue in my life. The deaths of my friends have completely derailed my recovery. Often in therapy, I talk about those losses or my problems with relationships or what I’m going to do with my future. My therapist challenged this tendency, saying that none of those are the main struggle in my life. I was self-harming and suicidal and hospitalized before Isaiah, Makayla and Meredith died, before I met anyone that’s ever been my significant other, before I faced the choices that I do now. Before all of this, there was only one thing: abuse. My therapist insisted that the trauma is what I really need to focus on to get better. I guess I already knew that, but I’ve been avoiding the idea. As hard as the things that I do talk about are, it’s a million times harder to even think about the bullshit that happened when I was a kid. My therapist asked me to talk about one thing I remembered and I felt like I was going to explode. I can’t really comprehend what went down, let alone talk about it. And I guess that’s exactly why I need to talk about it.
My eighth hospitalization definitely gave me a lot to think about, brought up a lot to work on, and most importantly, helped me realize what I need to do to live. Now I just need to work on wanting to live.