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The First Cut is the Deepest - My Story
Life didn’t really seem to make any sense that day. And even then, as I stood in the bathroom of tat tiny hotel room, I thought about how my life seemed so confusing and… I don’t know. Everything in my mind jumbled together, anger, sadness, depression. Nothing positive, nothing right. I stood still as a statue, not moving, barely breathing. So anxious. Scissors poised to strike my skin at an angle that was sure to draw blood…
Images flashed in front of my eyes, the retinas seeming to play a movie to my already numb brain.
Two years ago, when my friend and I had a fight. It’s when everything seemed to start. I didn’t know whether or not it had been jealousy or disappointment in myself for not doing anything about it, but there I was. I walked to the bathroom, and, before I knew it, the scissors had been raised to my wrist, and, in a blinding swipe, I saw blood. Just a tiny little well of it, bubbling up from my pale skin. My eyes widening- what have I done? How can I mask this? I can’t just say I’ve fallen down – no one would believe that a cut had just seemingly appeared on the top of my wrist from falling. The gears in my mind whirled. Think, girl, think! I do have a cat, but the cut had already bled…
With a sigh, I picked up but scissors, placed them (tentatively) in my back pocket. No one would notice. And so I walked, as if nothing was wrong, and continued with a new mask on my heart.
The next image was more gruesome – myself, curled in my bed, crying on the phone to a friend. I could hear the yelling, something being thrown. My parents’ stomping resounding against the old flooring. My heart wrenched, it ached, as if my whole supply of oxygen had been cut. I hiccupped a small goodbye and goodnight into the phone before clicking the “end” button. With a swift motion of my arm, the cell phone flew across room, landing in the pile of dirty clothes. Gotta wash those tomorrow, I reckoned to myself. I laid there, watching my tears fall like little shiny pebbles on to the gray carpet.
My vision blurred and my head swam in thoughts of want and sorrow. A sob broke loose, and I reached over to the nightstand beside my bed. My fingers clasped something cold, metal, and thin. My scissors. Without thinking about it, my hand flew to my wrist – that same blinding flash of silver emerged in front of my eyes. No pain. It didn’t hurt. So I tried again; again, again, again. I could see the tiny rivers of blood slowly elongate, like creeping smiles. The kind you see on women, you know, with bright red lips, and looks that could kill.
No. No, no, no, nononononono. No. What was I thinking? How do I cover these up?
Why do you even use scissors, anyway?
…Why did I use scissors?
Because a knife was too obvious, and no one expected scissors. They’re normal enough to have in a bag that you carry to school on a daily basis, in your pocket. Never know when you need a pair of scissors.
Never know when your emotional guard will come crashing down in flames.
I didn’t know how – I don’t remember when I started to lie about everything. I just did. And I did so… too often. Everything suddenly became too much information. I grew colder towards the world. I didn’t talk, I didn’t react. I did as I was told, and not much else. I stopped calling my friends, stopped going out. I simply did the laundry and read, and whenever things got rough, I turned to my scissors. My worst enemy and guilty plessure. When no one would speak to me, listen to my woes, I turn to cutting. At first it was a little. Just a tiny little cut, barely any blood. Not another mark for a year, maybe even half a year.
And it all came crashing down in a pile of flames, smoke, and ashes.
Now I stood with my guilty little secret poised to kill, to slice above my wrist. How had I even wound up here? I’m in a hotel room, with six other girls and a chaperone watching me. I couldn’t cover it up this time!
A knock on the door, and my right hand flew to my bangs, where elongated silver blades struck at my bangs.
“You okay in there?” the voice called out. Angel. Great. If she were to find out, there would be a commotion. I’d be figured out.
Then they’ll think different of me, that’s for sure, my thoughts rang out.
“Just fine, Angel!” I called back as cheerfully as I could muster.
“Hurry, I want to take a shower!”
A sigh escaped my lips, and as I went to shove the twin blades back into my pocket, I brought the blade down fast on my wrist. The thin, angry red line that appeared soon bubbled over with blood – not even a twinge of pain. The crimson liquid was cold, not warm, as it flowed over to the lower side of my wrist. I quickly wrapped the long cut in toilet paper, just to not draw as much attention.
Can’t come out looking like I’ve murdered someone, now, can I? The irony that dripped from my conscious’s voice made my eye twitch.
I hurried from the bathroom, smiling at Angel on the way out (and her way in) while I stepped knowingly over the clutter that littered the dirty hotel floor. Shoddy place, I thought. I flashed another, perfectly performed smile at Donna, my chaperone for the trip.
“And where do you think you’re going/” she questioned. I didn’t falter.
“Just out for some air, y’know? Incredibly stuffy in this tiny little room,” another perfectly formed lie. And it wasn’t all that much of a lie, either. Six girls, one chaperone, plus myself? And two beds. Just two. The floor wasn’t all that comfy.
Out the door, hang a left, and run all the up to the balcony at the front of the hotel, and that was where anyone could find me if they tried hard enough. There I sat, dark hair pulled up so as to not mess it up in the cold, Gatlinburg December wind. I layered myself in jacket after jacket, not wishing to get sick. (Nor did I want to hear any lip from friends about getting sick)
I’ll probably get sick from this anyways. But whatever. Not my wish, it’s theirs.
This time, I didn’t hesitate. I flung out my weapon of mass destruction – the blade colder out in the open air. The feel of steel against my skin brought goose bumps, and raised my hair. I shivered before taking another slice, the makeshift gauze falling to the parking lot below my dangling feet. Another. Again. One more time. Another hit, another red line – a little bit more of the stress gone. Angry, bitter smiles littered my wrist. None were deep, true smiles. All of them shallow, fake. Like the mask I had hid behind for years. And the smiles soon showed their pretty, crimson little fangs; longer, longer, larger they grew, until their saliva dripped off into the parking lot as well.
One more time, then I’ll stop.
Nope, this time.
I don’t know how long I hacked at my own arm, but as I realized that more than a few minutes had passed (fifteen, actually) and that I had to go to that last night of our concert, I threw the borrowed jacket over my wrist, making sure that no one could discern my mistake. I ran back, claiming to make a quick “pit stop”. And for kicks, I brought my purse to the bathroom as well. (It held my bandages) I washed the cuts with soap. That part stung; the only downfall. I wrapped the cuts once more with toilet paper, wrapped the ace bandages around my wrist, and pulled the oversized jacket low over my arms. Maybe I could find another one, just in case?
No time, I thought as I darted out the door, joining the rest of my group, that perfect mask returning with the flick of an internal switch.
When did I become so fake?
I had no time to ponder that. My group was off; Angel, the three Pursleys, Cody, Jon, Kayla, the little kids, and then the adults. I stayed somewhere in the mix, close to the front. No one said a word to me about my arm.
At some point, I knew I had become careless of hiding my scars. Some were suspicious of the fact that I, very clearly a right-handed person, constantly used her left arm to torture her pet cat. It also was strange that the cat seemed to be very violent, especially when she was no where near her owner.
I remember a day that I arrived at church, a smile present whenever the youth minister would glance my way; a perfect act of nonchalant. I worked that night like every other night, no one recognized that anything was wrong. Until I decided to take off my jacket.
Go figure, I thought as one of my friends questioned the still bleeding lines on my wrist, You live in Georgia, you smarty-pants. The only way to cover up those pretty little marks is to wear something with long sleeves. In eight-nine degree weather? Yeah, good luck with that one.
I only rolled my eyes at his concern – fake concern, my conscience reminded me. I said it was a cat scratch, that it had happened right before I left. When he told me that I arrived here thirty minutes ago, I told him that the bleeding just hasn’t stopped yet.
I doubt he ever believed me.
The youth group had fought hard and valiantly to get a little closer each night to the main stage of the concert. Tonight being the last night, we had gotten pretty close. Three rows away from the stage seemed pretty good to me. We were packed, side by side, like sardines in a tin can; no wiggle room.
I almost prefer the back to this… it’s so hot, and Haley won’t stop hitting my arm.
Once she hit right where the deepest cut ran across the upper part of my arm; I winced so visibly that Donna, to my right, asked me if I was okay or not.
I smiled my fake smile and replied, loudly, “Music’s too loud!”
I think she heard me.
The opening bands played their songs; most were pretty good. Music was a larger part of my life – not that I could sing or anything. But it helped cope with life, with stress. With lies. The Christian music genre was what made me believe Christ was there in the first place. It made me believe that He was someone who cared, even if He couldn’t hold me and verbally tell me that it will all be ok.
At the fifteen-minute interlude, I slinked off to the bathroom to double-check my handiwork. I stood at the sink farthest from the bathroom’s door, making sure to not unwrap my arm until Kayla walked out the door. Once the coast was all clear, I ripped the ace bandage off and unwrapped the bloody toilet paper. I rolled my hazel eyes at the mess. Lots of blood. Dried blood. Not too much that I’d be in trouble… it’s just really hard to scrub off in a bathroom. I set to work scrubbing the dried blood off my arm, making sure to be back before fifteen minutes were up.
I felt sick that night. The church was incredibly hot, and every time I tried to focus, my eyes just didn’t seem to want to work correctly for eyes with 20/20 vision. I waited for a moment to leave, just to get some fresh air. When the congregation bowed for prayer, I slipped out the back door.
A few minutes later I found myself outside, on the side of a nearby hill, chatting to the stars and, I would guess, God.
“I’m… not so sure why I do this, y’know?” I started, planning on explaining my whole self-degradation to Him that night, “Some things… just get so overwhelming. My home, school… and I know it sounds so trivial to You, but You’re… You’re up there, and I’m down here and I’m so small compared to you and –“ I stopped myself. No point in ranting to the Being who created you, right? He knew… He always knows.
“I suppose… I just never spoke to anyone about it before, y’know? No one to trust – not a single soul but You, God. I don’t think you intended it to be that way, and I don’t really care, to be honest. But I can’t tell everyone that I’m terrified to ask anything of anyone. That I’m terrified of failure – such a stupid thing to be afraid of, really. Everyone fails… except for you…”
That’s how it went, the whole night service. I sat outside on a hill for an hour straight and rambled on to God like it was my last day on His sweet Earth.
Now I sat back in my seat, listening to the speaker of the night at the Conference. Boy, was this guy ever excited about sharing his story with a bunch of teenagers. His body was very visibly shaking with excitement, his voice booming over the speaker system. The young man had a right to be so exuberant with his speech; the boy had been to hell and back.
His words struck a cord somewhere inside of me, somewhere close to my heart. I realized how much he and I had in common, how we had both decided turn to… more or less unhealthy things to keep ourselves company. I realized how alone I felt beside my whole youth group, inside the auditorium filled with teens the same age as me, going through things. I realized that I had hidden something too big for just one person. I realized that I relied on the wrong thing to confide in. Instead of God, I ran to pain and cutting. Yeah, sure. You and that guy have a lot in common, but you have to remember –he doesn’t get the scars that will forever tell the world what you’ve done.
For once, my conscience was right. But I didn’t let my self-derogatory mindset bring me down.
Well, I tried.
The whole auditorium grew hot, an unbearable hot. Tears stung my eyes – oh, God, what was happening to me? I became hyper-aware of all that was happening around me; Donna’s flash on her camera became too much for my eyes, the presence of Haley hitting the sensitive marks on my wrist, the announcer’s voice booming in my ears for the band of the night to come on stage. Everything became too overwhelming. Gravity pushed itself down on me, forcing the air out of my lungs, constricting my esophagus.
Honestly? REALLY? You are a real smart person, doll face, you know that? Pick the perfect time to have a panic attack.
I really needed to get a better conscience.
In an effort to hide my rapidly over-flowing tears, I shoved my hand across Haley’s lap to where a par of discarded sunglasses lay. A questioning glance, and I merely replied (with more calm that I should’ve been able to muster, considering the circumstance) I said I was fine, and that the lights were simply getting the best of me.
Of course, as the attack grew to its climax, I couldn’t help but whimper. I wanted to claw at my throat, to try and get air into my strained lungs.
The beats of the drums banged inside my eardrums, matching my heart-rate and amplifying it a thousand-fold; the heat of the auditorium, despite the dreadful Gatlinburg winter outside, threatened to take my air, my life, from me. I whimpered once more, and choked back a sob. The sound was lost in the music. Suffocation, even if a simple mind trick, is dreadful to endure.
And then, as the world did as my attacks began to subside, the world seemed to slow. I opened my eyes as the hyper-awareness faded somewhat. The strobes still killed my eyes, but as I looked around, I noticed a miracle.
No, Jesus was not flying from the ceiling, taking us all back to Heaven. No magical healing was taking place, no raising of the dead or some other massively historical event.
Surrounding me, my church’s youth group had their hands raised high above their heads, all standing and singing. I looked past them, and saw that the next row over looked the same. I turned my head to see a young boy, maybe my age (fourteen) looking at me and smiling. He, too, stood and raised his hand to the sky. The whole auditorium was in synch, it seemed. All praising God, all on the same wave.
A sudden wave of calm swept through me, like the comforting one that comes when you’re held protectively in the arms of your father. I shot from my seat, both hands raised and sang out. I don’t remember the song, and I don’t even remember how I knew the words. I laughed, the noise was foreign to me - I hadn’t laugh, truly, in a long time.
I smiled at the thought – a full smile, not a fake little quiver of my lips in hopes to qualm someone’s suspicions. I smiled. Teeth, braces, and all.
The presence grew stronger, and the hands raised higher. Spirits were lifted, burdens were lightened. Tears were shed, and innocence was saved that night.
I’m always by your side, my dear. I will always love you, for I have always loved you. You are my child, and everything will be well in the end.
I sniffled. That wasn’t my conscience – the words held no distinct voice. The words were said without a voice… like they were simply there. An understanding and a statement in one. God was there for me. He was my savior, He was my Father, my Creator, and my most trusted confidant and friend. He was my rock, my path, even when I strayed from Him. He was willing to carry me, if I believed.
I remember trying to write my testimony, just to see if I could remember two years ago. The realization hit me that I had no idea what was happening as I said my prayer of salvation. I didn’t have enough knowledge of Jesus in the sixth grade to understand what He had done.
The next Sunday, I had been saved. I knew what Jesus had sacrificed for my spot…
But that day didn’t save me from my sin. Specifically after that, the angry red smiles seemed to pop up more often. Their fangs grew redder, longer, and were bared more often than not.
We stayed in Gatlinburg through New Year’s. On New Year’s Eve, everyone gathered around in the streets. Party poppers went off, buzzers buzzed, and horns honked. Flashy New Year’s hats and crazy getups could be spotted for miles in the Gatlinburg area. Everything was glitzy, grand, and happy.
I stood with my youth group, bundled in jackets upon jackets. A hat sat on my head, and my dark hair spilled from around my shoulders. I shivered and pulled the hood over my head.
At least the boots keep my feet warm.
My conscience seemed to have taken a nicer turn on my mentality, too.
Someone cracked a joke, and I smiled before getting crushed by a hug on both sides. Boys need to realize that I’m half their size… I struggled away from the pair of idiots before gently patting my back pocket, determined to keep my sin safely tucked away.
- The countdown started. I wandered a little bit away from the group.
-I glanced around.
-No one was there.
-My hand slid into my back pocket.
-My sin glinted in the smoky haze of light.
-I raised the belligerent item to my eyes.
-I raised my hand high.
I brought my arm down. Halfway through the swing, my hand let go. Cold metal glinted in the light as the blades flew through the air. My hazel eyes narrowed as I watched them skid across the pavement, and into the storm drain.
“Happy New Year’s,” I said to my new self.
With a smile, I walked back to the group, joking and hugging and laughing with everyone. The fireworks in the distance shown bright.
A new year.
My new life.