that time when i couldn’t see the light

I have a dark little secret. It’s not something I’ve told anyone; in actual fact the only person that knows about it is a school friend who pulled me aside one day after class, because she was worried about me. And that’s only because she saw something. She saw what I had done to my wrist. My left wrist to be exact.

The year was 2002; I was in Grade 11 and life was, well life. I hated it. Why I hated it, I don’t really know. But I felt incomplete. Unwanted. Not needed. I was an average student, and an average athlete. I was generally well liked at school, and got on well with my teachers and family. I just felt numb inside. Dead even. Like what was the actual point of it all. Why was I working my backside off academically, when I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to study after school? Why was I showing up to every practice for hockey and softball and waterpolo and cross-country and athletics and and and when I knew that I was never good enough for the first team, that I’d never qualify for a scholarship or bursary to take things further. I remember feeling like the 3rd wheel in my family; I had been living at my dad’s place for almost 4 years, but I didn’t quite fit. I didn’t fit in the area, I didn’t fit in the dynamic, and most days I felt like I didn’t fit in the family.

So what was the point? I was 16 years old, and I saw no future for myself. So one afternoon, I calmly took a blade, and drew it across my left wrist. I expected to feel pain. Instead there was nothing. The area went a little red, so I decided to try again, to press a little harder. This time spots of blood appeared, and again I felt nothing. And so I kept going, slowly dragging the blade across my wrist. I don’t know how long it went on for. I just remember being called, and dutifully going downstairs to see what for. I had made about a 2cm cut in my skin (thankfully not too deep) but do you know what scared me more than wanting to end my own life? The fact that I felt nothing in trying to do so.

The next day during Biology class, I assumed my normal position of head in my arms, eyes closed for the duration of the 1 hour lesson. As the bell rang signalling the end of class, KJ, my friend that sat next to me noticed my wrist, and asked what had happened. I remember hastily pulling down my jersey, mumbling “nothing” and disappearing out of class. She cornered me at the end of our English class, just her and I in the classroom and asked me again, what had happened. Was I ok. I remember being silent; KJ wasn’t stupid, She knew. She then proceeded to save my life.

You are wanted.

You are needed.

I’m here for you.

Talk to me; I won’t judge.

I am your friend.

You are not alone.

I didn’t say much during that 5 minute talk, but her words resonated through me.

You are not alone.

And for the first time in a while, I didn’t feel alone.

Fast forward 6 years, Christmas Eve 2008. I found myself in a tattoo parlour, covering up my scar. The scar that I had hidden for so long, the scar that represented a different part of me, a part that I don’t ever want in my life again. I finally felt ready to let go of it; to not have to explain it, to not have to come up with some nonsense story whenever someone asked about it. I chose the Chinese symbol for ‘forever’ (yes I’ve had it verified!) and it actually has a double meaning for me, as it is also in memory of a friend who was taken too soon from our world in 2008.

Almost 7 years down the line, and my tattoo is showing signs of ageing; it’s gone a bit patchy, and my scar tends to show through more and more. But I don’t actually mind. It shows that I’ve lived, that I’ve experienced life. That I overcame.

There have been days since that day in 2002 when I’ve wanted to give up, when I haven’t been able to see the light through through clouds. But I’m still here.

And will continue to be.

Until my last, natural breath leaves my body.

G

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