Note: The Memory Series is made up of entries that are my attempt to puzzle together so many disjointed and out of context memories and pieces of memories that float around in my brain. Most of these are memories I’ve always had, but even though I remembered these events, I never really examined or understood them. They are now critical memories to revisit as I work through my healing process. The numbers attached to each memory aren’t that important; they’re mostly random except for their order in my life. This is the first I wrote in the series.
This day, she was 14 or 15. This day, she was tired of the front. Of the cheerful, sociable exterior. It was exhausting to keep up and she was sick of it all.
Bitterness blossomed within her, sharp like acid, hollowing her out. She looked around her room, which was a disaster, strewn with clothes and cassette tapes and paper and dishes and books and a million other things. She felt so much wrong inside of her.
She smashed a picture in its frame. The shards of broken glass mingled with the rest of the rubble on her bedroom floor.
That girl, she picked up the biggest shard and held it in her hand. She caressed the flat side. It was smooth and shiny. She tapped her finger against the cruel point at one end, wondering what it would feel like.
She dragged the point across the inside of her arm, watching a trail of red bubble up in its wake. Interesting. It hurt, but not really.
I was that girl. I was that girl who spent the next hour and a half carving up both of her legs and arms. My legs. My arms.
That girl, that me, was so desperate to be relieved of her anger and her sadness. I wanted to release it, to bleed it out, a painful but satisfying purge.
I felt better, for awhile. And then, as always, I felt worse.
I went to cheerleading practice the next day, not even considering what my body would look like to everyone else until my friend looked over at me during stretches, just two minutes into practice.
“Jesus, Stephanie! What the hell happened to you?”
She was staring with horror at my legs, splayed out in a straddle.
I looked down and saw myself through her eyes. My bare legs, riddled with angry red scratches in random patterns. My arms, covered in just as many cuts.
I hesitated, trying to process this. This was new to me, not being ready. Not having my story straight. Not even having thought through how I would explain this away, not even thinking I would HAVE to explain this away.
I ALWAYS thought ahead. I ALWAYS had my story straight. I was good at it. It was what I did. How could I have gone so wrong this time?
Because today, this moment, I was at a loss for the briefest of instances. How could I have let this happen? How could I have been so careless? I was going to be revealed. This was it. I had failed.
After two beats, I stuttered out, “Oh, uh, yeah. We were walking through pricker bushes. Pretty dumb, right?”
She knew I was lying. I could tell she knew I was lying. Everyone knew I was lying because by that time most of the team and the coach were all listening and looking at me with doubtful faces.
Then the moment passed and everyone let me carry on with my charade. Just like that, they all accepted my obvious lie without further question or discussion.
I was elated: Thank God they left me alone about it! That was a close call.
I was outraged: How the hell could they leave me alone about it?!? I need help! Can’t they see I need help?