Courage — Missa’s Story

Copyright Missa

Nine months after the fact, and I can’t get it out of my mind. I’m beginning to feel like it will always be a part of me. The story of how it started, the story of how I hid it, and the story of how it ended. The story of emotional pain, the story of rock bottom, the story of courage — my courage. The story I’m about to share with you.

I’ve never lived a fairy tale life. My parents fought ever since I was a little kid, I thought that’s how everyone lived, but soon I would learn that it wasn’t like that. I was in Grade 8 when my parents split up. I sat writing poetry in English class when the teacher told me that my mother was there to see me. It was complicated, but the bottom line of the story is that my parents had split up. I missed about two or three days of school, and when I got back everyone had questions. Why did she come get you? Where were you? Someone said there were cops at your house, was that true? I hated the questions. I truly did. I thought I had hit rock bottom when my parents split up, but I’d soon learn that I hadn’t seen nothing yet.

I was first introduced to the concept of self injury when my friend told me about it at a school dance. I thought it was a crazy idea, and couldn’t understand why she did it. Little did I know that soon, I’d be caught up in that world.

I try not to think of the night when it started. I always wish I could turn back the clock, I always wish that I could go back and tell myself not to pick up the safety pin. But the fact that is never going to change is the fact that what happened, happened.

Two months later, I confided in a friend about it. It felt good to be able to talk about it, to let some of the emotion inside of me out. I went to tell another friend that I trusted, but I didn’t expect what would happen next. A few days later I had people coming up to me, asking me more questions. Oh my gosh, Melissa, is it true? ‘Is what true?’ I asked. Are you a cutter?

I lied. I told them it wasn’t true. I denied it completely. I had no idea, but this was the beginning of my downward spiral. Cutting, and lying to cover up cutting.

On February 16th, 2003, I first started talking to Rini, and then two days later I started talking to Annie and Britt. We were all fans of the original Canadian Idol, Ryan Malcolm, and had met up talking on the official message boards. We instantly became close friends, and soon we’d call ourselves the ‘izzles’. I won’t linger on the topic of the rise and fall of the izzles. It would be a whole other story, but the three of them knew what I did. And there was a period of time where one of them had said they did it as well.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when the izzles were close. They always were there for me when I couldn’t count on the friends I had at school. I was a bit of a loner. I mean, I had friends, but I couldn’t tell them anything, not after what happened when I opened up the first time. Grade 9 wasn’t a very fun year.

At the end of grade 9 I decided to try again. I decided to open up, and I told my friend Sam about what I did. She kept the secret, and she seemed to understand. When Grade 10 approached, the two of us became quite close, and soon, I learned that she was doing the same thing as I was.

I think the fact we had something in common is what made us close friends, and Oceans class was the thing that bonded us. Despite the fact that I was doing completely horrible in it, I had failed the big project, and I only came out of the class with a mark in the 60s, I still loved that class. It was my favorite class of all.

With each day, in Oceans class, Sam and I would become closer and closer friends, and that class was always like an escape for me. A place where I didn’t have to think about what was going on in my life. A place where I could just let go. A place where I could just laugh and make fun of the teacher. I honestly wonder if Mr. MacQuarrie had ever contemplated quitting and admitting himself into a mental institution. I swear we drove him crazy. But he was, and will probably always be my favorite teacher I’ve ever had.

Life would have it’s ups and downs for me. There would be days I was insanely happy, and then there would be days where I would just wish to crawl into a hole and die. There were weeks I could go without cutting, and then there were days where I would have to cut at least ten times each day, just to feel normal.

I was very good at hiding things. While most of our friends had learned that Sam cut herself, I chose to keep it to myself. Barely anyone knew what I did, and I was happy with it. The thought of them finding out truly scared me.

Then I learned what it felt like to hit rock bottom. This next part of the story will probably be quite triggering, so I’ll have to warn you all about that now.

I was sitting in the upstairs bathroom with a razor in my hand, it was how I usually spent my evenings. I had made a small cut on my ankle as usual, but that didn’t satisfy me. I had to go deeper. Deeper and deeper… until suddenly I couldn’t stop the bleeding. I panicked, I gasped, but I couldn’t tell anyone. I wrapped a bandage around it, and soon it bled right through. I didn’t have anything else to put on it so I just wrapped tape around the bandage. At least if it kept bleeding the tape would stop it from seeping through my pant leg.

The next day I mysteriously came down with flu-like symptoms and the cut looked very infected. I knew this couldn’t go on any longer. I knew if I kept going, I would end up in the ER. I told Sam about it, and about how I didn’t want to cut anymore. How I just wanted to have the strength to tell my mom so that I could go to the doctor and get help.

Sam had told me something that seemed so simple, but the words made all the world of difference for me. ‘Just pray to God. He’ll give you the strength that you need. He is only putting you through something like this to help you grow. He only wants the best for you and would never, ever put you through something that He knew you couldn’t handle.’

I took her advice and sat in the bathroom, coughing, throwing up, crying, and praying for the strength.

Later on that day I told my mom. I expected her to scream, I expected her to be angry with me, but she was very understanding. She knew exactly how I felt. She didn’t make me feel ashamed.

Not long after I was referred to a psychologist. I was quite scared to see one, but she ended up being really understanding, and she helped me see a lot of things that I hadn’t seen before. She’d shown me life skills and coping skills so that I could really beat what I was doing.

I’ve been clean for nine months. Ever since March 17th, 2005. All though I wish none of this ever happened, I know that it was meant to happen, and I know that this experience has taught me a lesson. I want to share my story. I want to show people that it is not an impossible fight. That you are not bound by this addiction. That you can overcome it, just like I did.

I’m now in Grade 11. I’m a much happier person. I can’t say that I still don’t have thoughts of self injury, because I occasionally do, but I now know how to deal with the thoughts and how to cope with the vicissitudes of life.

When March 17th comes around again. The one year anniversary of the day I beat the addiction, I’ll be celebrating it in Hawaii. That could not seem more awesome to me. Twenty or so people from my school were chosen to go on this trip, and I was one of the lucky few that had gotten picked. It seems like the perfect way to celebrate how much I’ve grown. If I hadn’t found that inner courage, I probably wouldn’t get to experience something as extravagant as visiting the place I’ve wanted to go to ever since I was a child.

I hope other self injurers read this, and I hope they find the inner courage inside themselves. Because I know that the greatest feeling in the world is the feeling of having control of your life. And I believe that everyone should have that feeling.


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