TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about assault and/or violence which may be triggering to some.
By Tara Allen.
I think I started cutting when I couldn’t write anymore. I stopped writing and harbored the demons within, trying in vain to keep them locked up. They crawl around inside me, lurking in the shadows, waiting to show themselves. I thought drinking would numb it, keep them at bay. But the demons had to escape somehow, and since I no longer let them flow out through words, I watched as they flowed out in my blood.** *Just gave away my guitar. Only I don’t think of it as mine, I think of it as his. How he played, how he loved to play. How he created songs for me. I’m sitting here, with a glass of wine nearby, tears streaming down my face. I am a mess. Does this get better? I want to bleed, I want to rage, and I want to do anything but feel this. Am I so fucked up that I am unlovable? Pretty enough to get the guy but not good enough to do what it takes to keep him? Pretty fades. It’s fading fast. I am toxic.
I choose to write my way out of this. To put it out there, how this shreds me. How I’d rather be physically in pain than emotionally.
I bring out the worst in men. I destroy people, I break them. They walk away so easily.
Time to put it on the page and leave it.
“What are you here for?”
“I’m cut and I can’t stop the bleeding.”
I take my coat off, roll up my sweatshirt sleeve to reveal all the blood, the stab wounds. I try not to cry, but I can feel it settling, the adrenaline gone and now the aftershock. The nurses quietly ask what happened. I say I did it to myself. They get me back to the beds quickly. They ask me to remove all of my clothing and put on scrubs while some bored tech woman watched. Like I was a prisoner. I flash to him saying, “I will see you in my prison and I will spit on you every day.” The tears are beginning. A doctor says he is going to have to staple three of the wounds. I am trembling; I hear the clicks as the doctor staples my wounds and puts liquid adhesive on others. Staples are new to me. Then I am alone. I am shaking and crying. I cannot stop. I feel everything, the reality and weight of it sinks into me, choking me, sucking the very core of me. I cry hysterically until someone comes in to give me a shot of Ativan. They take my blood pressure 100 times.
They take me up to the fifth floor. Psychiatric ward. I immediately regret my decision. The atmosphere feels chaotic. I want to hide away and cry for the rest of my life, not deal with other crazy people.
I sit in a far corner chair in my stark nuthouse room. Holy hell, am I sitting here in scrubs, forcing cold English muffin down my throat, balled up with a pillow on my lap as if it were a barrier to protect me… in the fucking loony bin? My nurse is kind. She administers my medication. I crawl into the hospital bed with a book. I am out before I know it.
Check vitals time.
“Is your blood pressure normally high?”
“No. It is always perfect.” Perfect like my lost love.
“It’s pretty high. Let me take it again.”
Sure thing, nice technician, but it is elevated because I am awake and aware of how my
life has quite suddenly become unrecognizable.
Our intermittent fights were complete blowouts, and things had escalated as I learned of
small lies he told me. His personality had changed in the weeks leading up to this. I knew something was going on. The man who daily laid his heart out for me, who always told me how beautiful and amazing I am, how he was so lucky to have me, how I was his best friend, had suddenly become mean and hateful towards me.
I have constant anxiety. I eat alone in my room, read my book, write, and remind myself to breathe. Most people probably think that is odd, to remind yourself to breathe. When I’m all caught up in my head, feeling every emotion inside of me but unable to outwardly express it, I find that I hold my breath, and I don’t realize it until I remind myself. Breathe in. Breathe out.
I make myself presentable in my scrubs and slipper socks without even a passing thought about my humble attire. Normally in heels and something fashionable, make-up and jewelry just so, I am a picture of everything is fine, I got this under control. Make everything look pretty on the outside, and don’t let on to the depths of the dark that my mind swims in daily. Don’t let on that I often want to peel my own skin off. Smile so people won’t for one minute think I have a nasty, hateful voice in my head that tells me I should not be in this world that I do not matter here.
Therapy begins the second day. I answer question after question with my head up and no tears. I am determined to get better.
I walk the halls in the afternoon for hours, just go, go, get away from the horrible sick feeling that threatens to annihilate me; my love is gone, my love is a monster, my love betrayed me and ended any dreams we shared together. Just three days prior, we went away for the night, to regroup, reconnect. We looked at houses and talked over wine about our dreams, how well they entwined, excited for our future. In one terrible night, it was all over.
Walk, resituate the bandage on my arm, stop and take meds, listen to how high my blood pressure is, and is it normally high? No, it is not. Hello, I just fucking found out the love of my life was not the person I thought he was, bashed him over the head, and then stabbed my arm so I would not feel the emotional pain. Perhaps that has something to do with my elevated blood pressure? Speak when spoken to, be nice to the nurses and techs, nod to the other patients who seem cognizant, and DON’T SCREAM, DON’T SCREAM. Write. Read the worksheets the therapist brings. Try not to tackle her when she says he wasn’t the one, there is love out there for me, and children are still a possibility. There is no one else, he is the one, don’t any of them get that? The devastation is poison that pumps through my heart, eating away at my insides, devouring anything good I have left in me. I have to remind myself to ask after my dogs, my poor dogs, when they were always number one on my list of reasons to keep my shit together. My anguish overrode everything.
Take more pills, feel heaviness in my brain, feel half-sick, feel like I am going to burst out of my skin. Dance with Why, scream at Why, fuck Why, beat Why down, ignore Why. Being in an almost comatose state for eight hours at night is quite nice. Too bad as soon as my eyelids open the realization that it is all over, that this is beyond terrible, slams back into me.
“Your heart rate is pretty high, as is your blood pressure. Is that normal for you?” Fuck. ** *
The therapist wants me to join a group session. It is for higher functioning folks like me. I feel like a privileged Crazy. I go and I listen to other people’s problems, which I like. Let’s focus on you, what your problems are, how you’re dealing with them. Me? Bypass me, please.
No such luck.
I’m sitting cross-legged in the chair, picking at my bandage. I say I had a fight with my now ex-fiancé, it got really bad, I hurt myself to calm me down, because cutting focuses me. I did not intend to stab instead of cut, but it did the trick. I knew if I did not go to the hospital, I would find a way to die.
What I do not say is that a stranger had become a part of my life. That I realized, too late, I could not fix him, I could only fix myself. Ironically, I had scheduled to start therapy the next week. His drunken night, him stumbling in the back door, me hugging him and saying I loved him. That was the last time I touched him in a loving way. I had written a note for him to find in the bathroom so he would see it when he was getting ready for work in just a few hours. It basically said, “I am sorry I have been distant lately. I have set an appointment to go to therapy next week. Please don’t abandon me. I love you always.”
What I get is someone calling him at 1 a.m. It is a name I don’t recognize. I let it ring. Then a text message comes through, “Why didn’t you answer? Talk to you tomorrow, dear. Xoxo.” I scroll through hours of texts between him and some girl. I tell myself to keep it together, but suddenly I am trembling, my brain shuts down, and raw emotion takes over. I go into the living room, and before I know it, I have smashed a glass over his stupid, cheating head. Then I launch myself at him, and his drunken ass is slowly coming around. I am screaming, screaming, I want to destroy everything around me, and I throw everything I touch. Then I am in the kitchen, I grab a knife, he continues to scream at me; I stab, stab, stab my arm. The blood pours out; I can feel it dripping down, splattering on the kitchen floor. And then the calm. I tell him to put the fucking knife in my chest and end it because he already murdered my heart. He takes the engagement ring and puts it deliberately in the trash. He screams at me that he didn’t cheat, I’m a crazy cunt, I’m a psycho bitch, he will see me in his prison and he will spit on me every day. He’s watching the blood drip onto the floor, and he says, “Go fucking kill yourself, you psycho cunt. Put your family out of their misery.” And it clicked. That is exactly what I will do. I get my keys out of my purse, take the knife, and in my socks walk through sleet to my truck. I drive to Lincoln Park on the cemetery side, nearly sliding off the road several times since the ice keeps layering thick on my windshield and I can barely see. I park. My left hand cannot even grip the steering wheel; I can’t get my fingers to cooperate. I grab the knife with my right hand; bring the blade down into my left wrist, ready to bleed out quietly. But the knife does not go through my skin as it had so easily just minutes before; it collapses against my bleeding arm.
By the dashboard light, I see that the knife has broken. Broken. Really? I can’t even do this? Failure, failure, failure. I try to do the other side, but my left hand is not working. Then I see there was no way that knife was going to cut again. The handle came apart and would no longer stabilize the blade. If I were going to do this, I would need another plan. I’ll go back to the house, get the dogs, drop them off at my brothers, and then figure it out.
He is on my cell phone with my mother. He starts screaming at me again, through phone calls with my mom, sister-in-law, and brother, with each of them saying get the dogs and get out of there. He is screaming that I busted his face, to get the fuck out of his house; he hopes I die in a fiery car crash. I am in some warped version of Hell; I can see myself from above going in slow motion. He is pacing around, and I realize he can’t find his phone. I look in the jeans he had taken off and slip his phone into my pocket. I have some sick desire to pour slowly through his text messages and torture myself. I’m walking out the front door he says, “I’m fucking bleeding everywhere,” and stupid me, I stop, turn, and ask if he wants me to take a look at the wound. While I’m dripping blood on the floor and have no use of my left hand. He of course declines in a gentleman’s way. The dogs and I leave.
I have no clear thought beyond dropping the dogs off with my sister-in-law, taking off and figuring what to do later. But as I’m sitting in my truck outside her house going through the text messages, my sister-in-law comes to my door and opens it. Seeing her face, I remembered the reasons why I could not kill myself: I could not do that to my family. I could not have my family know that I was at their house and then drove off to die. I did not want them to blame themselves for my stupidity, my disease.
I say none of this to the group. Next.
A girl, maybe 18, tells her story. She says, “I do self-harm as well,” looking at me. Sweet Jesus, I am 36 years old and still cutting to deal with what’s in my head. I do not want to be 40 and still cutting.
The last woman to speak in group says, “We all in this room fight to die.” Those words resound in me. I have fought to die, and I do not know why I keep breathing, but I do.
The doctor makes his stop. He needs to hear me say, “I do not want to hurt myself or others” three days in a row before considering letting me out.
“Do you feel like hurting yourself or others?” Say no, say no…
I feel so helpless when I get out of the hospital, so lost. My head never, ever shuts the hell up. I would welcome the disconnected feeling I usually felt before. I can only do minutes at a time. Now I’m up, I let the dogs out, I wait to get into the bathroom, I get ready for the day, and I go to work. I cannot even pretend to be okay because it takes everything I have not to fall to the ground and scream until my throat bleeds. Why the fuck am I here? Why the fuck do I keep screwing up? It’s as if he died. The person I thought I knew is gone. I lost my best friend. I had fallen in love with his little boy as well and looked forward to the day when I would officially be his step-mom. Gone. I grieve for their loss. I go out to my truck during lunch and sob hysterically, then again when I drive from work.
My heart breaks over and over and over. I want God, or whomever, to tell me why I had to meet him, why we had to fall in love, why it seemed so perfect, why I had to lose him. There is some angry spark in me; something in my very core that tells me we were supposed to fight for this, that our story was not over, so why is it over? How did I, a cynic of love, allow another man behind my wall? Did I not pray enough? Was I not thankful enough? I feel like someone has played a terribly cruel joke on me.
I gather a couple of my girlfriends and tell them what happened. When I get to the part about the knife breaking, my dear friend laughs. She says, “I’m sorry, but the knife broke? God was watching over you, sis. That’s amazing.”
Of course, this whole time I have only thought FAILURE when the knife broke, but over the next couple of days, her statement sinks in.
Maybe there is a reason I am still here.
The countless times my sweet brother hugs me while I cry, so strong for me, telling me over and over he was going to get me through this. The way everyone at work is so respectful and kind. How my friends listen, do not judge, and are there for me every step of the way. How my beautiful sister-in-law deals with me, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, my brother, school, and work like the rock star she is. All of this and more helps remind me to breathe every day.
So begins my journey of healing.
I do not want to continue to exist just because I am still breathing. It matters that I am still breathing.
I am more than darkness, shattered pieces, scars, and open wounds.
I do not destroy people; I do not have that power. It’s okay to cry, miss him, and love him; it does not mean I am weak. Because I am sad now does not mean I always will be. I can find success as I once dreamed I could. I can find that voice again, but this time it will be the voice of a woman and not the whisperings of a girl.
If I acknowledge this festering disease and don’t ignore it, don’t worry about dressing it up or making it presentable, I can fight off the dark in a healthy manner. I can continue a good path and machete the tangled webs of sorrow, self-doubt, and self-loathing out of my way. I am empathetic, creative, kind, reserved, outgoing, bitter, warmer, and smarter. I am strong.
I am fucking Fierce.
Tara Allen (Cormier) Biography:
Dog guardian. Survivor of her demons. Kick-ass in heels.