I have these small, thin but long, slightly raised white lines on the left side of my chest and torso. There are seven of them. They are barely visible, especially in the winter (then tend to pop more if I have even the slightest tan). I doubt any of you have ever noticed them if you ever happened to see me without a shirt, a situation I am rarely in.
I only ever notice them, or think about them, when I am in the shower. They are very noticeable to the touch. They are quite raised for their diminutive size. It is possible something about the water or soap makes them more perceptible to touch as well.
I got these scars in June, 2013.
I had been off of work since the last week in February. I had been out of the hospital day program I was enrolled in for over a month. I had been alone all day everyday, drinking, abusing pills, struggling to grapple with the whirlwind few months that included a complete break, a serious suicide attempt, hospitalization, and the heavy burden now being placed on my brand new wife.
And of course the realization that things weren’t improving, at all, maybe they were worse actually. I had no real timeline as to when my life would begin being put back together. And, oh yeah, my wife was pregnant unexpectedly; we had just discovered this news.
One of the most difficult parts of this time of my life was that I was inundated with violent thoughts and images. Suicidal thoughts have been part of my reality since I was young, but I generally always envisioned the easiest and least painful ways to go about it. Not now, not during this nine month hell where my fascination with knives, hangings, and crushing blows to the head, became my new obsession.
During the time after the hospital, I often found myself home alone, drunk, and holding a kitchen knife.
I cannot explain why. Since this moment, where these tiny white lines on my torso came into being, I haven’t had a violent thought involving a knife even once. But this day, in June, it all seems to be stacked up on my chest.
I got drunk, took too many pills, got angry, stormed into the kitchen, pulled a knife from the block and made nine cuts to my body over the course of about ten minutes. It wasn’t a crazed frenzy, I was very methodical about it. The lines are almost all perfectly parallel, on purpose. I would make a quick cut, watch it bleed, study the next location, make a heavier cut, and so on until I was done.
I hadn’t bothered to take off my shirt during this. I just held it up with my chin. And I didn’t bother to clean anything up afterwards, I just put my shirt down.
If it hurt at all, I don’t remember it. Like I said, these are small scars, not big or deep cuts. My movements with the knife were about speed and precision. I wasn’t trying to mangle my body. I wasn’t trying to feel pain.
I don’t really have any explanation for what I was trying to do, outside of simply acting on a violent thought I had.
I passed out drunk in the chair, blood coming through my shirt, shortly after this. My wife came home from work to find me there, passed out drunk, bloody shirt. You’d have to ask her what she remembers of that day if you are curious to know more. I don’t even remember putting the knife down. I did find a picture I took of myself all bloody on my phone.
The first time anyone but my wife saw my chest was a little later over the July 4th holiday. I took off my shirt to swim and my chest was still cut up a bit. I told everyone who asked that I lost a fight with a weedwhacker that had gotten jammed and I forgot to turn off. I don’t know what they knew, or what they believed, but Samantha told the same story after she heard me recount it.
I had one person ask me about those scars this summer. I told that same weedwhacker story.
That’s what I thought about this morning in the shower when I noticed the scars as I washed myself. I don’t know what is worse, not knowing why I cut myself, or not knowing how to explain it.
I’m not embarrassed by much about myself, mental-health-wise. I’m not shy about my state of mind. I don’t mind telling my story. I have no qualms about sharing the lowest moments in my life. I regret the pain I bring to other people, the burden I often am. I regret much of what I have done that hurt others. Regret but not embarrassment.
But these tiny white lines, they hurt no one, and I have such difficulty owning up to how I got them.