What Self Harm Taught Me

Meiying Ng

Not so long ago, my first therapist told me to tally the times I was angry.
For record, for her analysis and my introspection.
To help me replace my skin with a piece of paper,
Not any but plain white
without lines or margins.
No colors. no blue or red.

She asked me to make straight vertical lines each day, design my self-harm spreadsheet on the blank canvas without any color except grey. Of the pencil tip
refusing to be visible on the circumference of my tiny wrists,
but leaving a dark stench of lead on the paper each day,
counting or un-counting that could only be done in straight vertical lines,
unlike the flexibility to lie down or straighten out or traverse the curvy outlines of green underneath my wheatish arms.
Standing tall, the grey was a reminder of scars undrawn but unforgotten
learning to stay sunken
rather than accepting a drowning defeat.

White paper did help me control my nerves
but never my muscles.
Twitching toes and aching palms,
all the pain was neatly repressed.
A carpet of skin hiding away the hurt diffused in corners, peripheries and obliviousness
of a body that felt like recycled grave –
ghosts of times attempting to make people out of bodies, or maybe bodies out of all the people I
couldn’t become.
Waiting for dispersed pollens and fragile petals to replace plastic daisies on cement chambers
shrouded with shrubs of green.
funny how people try keeping death alive,
counting on the clock to make time stop,
as if time was all it took to bring back people.

White paper also taught me death isn’t the inevitable. Life is.
for better or worse, life is inexorable.
erasing lead requires greys on paper,
In designing death lies the art of living life
Inexplicably.
Death demands reason in a way life can never attempt to fathom.
Maybe because life isn’t meant to be institutionalized
into bodies, recognizable and identifiable.
into commodities, valued and evaluated.
into relations, normalized and ostracized.
into semantics, analyzed and criticized.
Maybe life is the easy act of existing. Being, instead of becoming. TC mark

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