Just Me

Copyright Tess

This is a copy of my autobiography I wrote for an English class, but felt it too personal to share with my classmates. But I do want to try and help other self-harmers so I was interested in posting my story in case someone out there can relate. And maybe someone out there can help me…

So I was a normal teenage girl. I had fun at school, I had a great boyfriend, Sam, and yeah, life was good. Sam was the best boyfriend a girl could have. He gave everything for me and helped me through those times when you just can’t keep a smile on. Depression runs in my family and it started to take its toll on me by the end of sophomore year, but Sam always got me through. He believed in me when no one else did – — and it showed. I excelled in school (in rather difficult classes, at the prodding of my father); I was a member of every club, and president of half of them. And somewhere, in among the tests, recitals, dance shows, photography exhibits, before school mentoring, and teaching dance at my studio, I was trying to prep for SAT’s and college applications. Needless to say something had to give. So, after a tearful conversation Sam and I went on a break. It was only supposed to be a little while… but weeks dragged on and I was enjoying the single life. I kept telling Sam that ‘Oh no, I just need a little more time to get stuff figured out’ and slowly the weeks turned into months. And during those months, I met other boys. These boys were fun — they didn’t love me like Sam, but we had fun, and obviously I wasn’t looking for another loving relationship. As the months rolled by, Sam grew impatient and frustrated. He wanted to know when we were getting back together and if we were going to get back together, why was I going out with all these other guys. You can’t blame him for getting frustrated. But I still persisted, and the break was ‘still on’. Eventually, Sam became abusive. He rarely was physically abusive, and he never actually hauled off and hit me, but he would push me around a little. But he would corner me and intimidate me. He would look down at me and call me every derogatory term you can think of. He liked spitting in my face a few times for good measure before he would leave these little episodes. But he would always say he was sorry. I couldn’t break this cycle. It became clear to both of us that we weren’t getting back together, but that didn’t stop him after I would come home from one of my dates. He would watch our house while my family and I was out of town, so he had a key to my house. Some nights after some excessive drug use, around 3 am he would stumble into my room, and I’d have to play nurse — after he had finished calling me names of course. This continued for about a year and a half. And the funny part? No one ever knew, or even reacted — not even my mother would react as she heard his screams from downstairs and my whimpering faintly under his loud voice. Eventually, this treatment made an impression on me. I began to simultaneously pity and believe Sam. I pitied him because I knew that he was only behaving this way because it made him feel in control — in control of me and in control of his life. I believed him because no one else had even offered to love me the way Sam did in that 1 1/2-2 years. All those dates and not one of them amounted to more than a night in the backseat of their car. You can only be called a ‘whore’ so many times before you start to believe it.

It was about this time I was raped. I was so in love with RJ. I thought he liked me and I thought he was trustworthy — he was a Jehovah’s Witness. Who wouldn’t trust him? He was on varsity basketball and in all of my AP classes. Oh, yes RJ was a dreamboat. We’d gone on a date or two, and every one made me fall more in love. But finally our relationship culminated a few days after graduation, him pinning me down in my bed, forcing my leg over his shoulder, and pushing so hard he almost broke my nose. I watched the blood drip down my cheek and onto my pillow. ‘So this is how I lose my virginity’ I thought to myself. I have never felt more alone, more ashamed in my entire life. I was so desperate for love and attention I made RJ a huge birthday cake two weeks later for his party…

But finally I did find someone who cared. My new boyfriend walked into my life late this summer, and stole my heart from the get-go. He had watched his mother suffer abuse for many years, and I could tell that hearing my story wounded him in his very core. He hated to hear how I’d been hurt and wanted so badly to heal me and make me feel better… but he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know that I cried myself to sleep after the first night we hung out, because I didn’t know how to tell Sam without getting a barrage of words and spit flung at me. And the worst part — I felt dirty. I felt like all those things Sam had called me — I started to realise to what extent I really did believe Sam. And so, after imbibing a few illicit substances, I got hold of a sewing needle. I wanted so badly to express how I was feeling and to punish myself for being ‘a whore’, when in reality I hadn’t done anything wrong! So I firmly grabbed the needle and started to carve.

I couldn’t believe how good it felt. I’d seen it in movies where the girl is crying uncontrollably while she watched the blood pour out of her, and had always assumed you had to be ‘crazy’ or ‘manic’ to cut. But I was the opposite. In my eyes, I was creating art. For about twenty minutes I became transfixed on the white pale skin of my thigh as the word ‘whore’ developed three times in pink raised flesh. There wasn’t much blood — hardly any at all. And all I really remember is the burning. That slight tingly sensation dancing as the needle scraped my skin and the relief as the words developed redder and redder. I took months for the scars to heal. But they did. You can barely see it anymore. But of course, you can’t just cut once.

My new boyfriend and I got into our first fight a few months ago. It was my fault and I felt terrible. I grabbed my sewing kit and ran into my dorm’s bathroom and sat in a stall and began to carve. It came easier this time, and the words looked prettier. The red was brighter and the cuts were deeper. Slowly, the cryptic words ‘I HATE ME’ developed on the top of my other thigh. The scars still haven’t healed. I tried to hide it, but it was to no avail. My boyfriend found it within days. I felt despicable when he discovered what I’d done. I’m sure he though it was his fault — but he’ll never know how much I did it for myself. Did it to make it through. To deal with it all. I couldn’t explain why our argument upset me so much, or why it hurt so badly. But I could point to my leg and say ‘this hurts, and I know why, and I know how’. And again, it was the burning feeling of control. It was the overwhelming sensation of ‘wow, OK I’ve done something. I can move on’. I haven’t cut since, but I’ve been sorely tempted. The only thing stopping my is my boyfriend and the fear that he’ll find more scars and either leave me because I’m too crazy to be around, or he’ll be so hurt by it and assume its his fault — and I couldn’t stand either. Isn’t it funny how we can wound ourselves so severely, but we’d jump in front of a bullet to save someone else from the same hurt?

After a couple happy months, my boyfriend and I got into another argument. We really don’t fight that much, just everybody has their ups and downs. And last week was the first time I ventured to cutting my forearm. After a heated discussion, my boyfriend went out to give a friend a ride. I couldn’t help myself. Again, the fight was my fault, and I felt terrible for putting my great boyfriend through so much hurt. I had started scrapping my arm while we were fighting. For most of it, his back was to me so he never noticed the big red welted lines appearing on my arm. So, while he was out, I found his penknife. But as it had with so many other times, a word came to mind and I just couldn’t get it out. The scratches ironically started to look like a fence. About half an inch above the fence I scrawled the word ‘SLUT’. And my boyfriend never noticed. I finally told him two days later because I felt so bad about incidentally hiding it from him. And he was angry and scared as usual. And yet I still can’t stop the desire to cut. I see the pain in his eyes when he looks at my scars. I promise him every time that it won’t happen again, but it always does.

Anyways, that’s my story. I’m a carver. I like to think I take cutting to a new artistic level. I don’t cut to kill, or maim, or even hurt. I cut to punish — to punish myself for everything I do wrong, or what I think I do wrong. My boyfriend helps so much its unbelievable. When I can be in his arms, I don’t need to cut. But for those times he’s not there… I know I can’t be trusted alone. But where do you turn at this point? And how do you stop something so beautiful and useful but also so destructive? For now, I’m taking it one day at a time. I think I’ll slowly get better… but I’ll keep my sewing kit just in case…


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