The thing about pain is that it’s easier in past tense. You can tell your dad, “Hey, I was in a really bad place a few months ago.” Or a significant other, “What you said back then really hurt.” It’s a relief almost, getting what you suffered with off your chest without the guilt of current consequence. It’s non-confrontational. It’s casual.
Pain in present-tense is quiet. It looks like folded arms and nails picking at skin. Pressed lips. Closed doors. Red eyes. Nobody’s voice is quite ready to confess. Nobody’s finger has an easy time pointing out another.
The last two years, I never brought a blade to my skin. I was over that. I was proud. I talked about it, how it was hard and worth it. It’s so easy to name your monster when it’s already been conquered. When the story has an end.
I relapsed. Less than a month ago, I remembered how satisfying it was to take everything I was feeling out on myself. And when you slip, it’s tempting to slip farther. Why stop at cutting? Why not take a lighter to your skin? Why not tip the bottle a little more? And I never said a word. How can you take all the praise you earned and the vision of “cured” you became, and hand it back? It took a long time for me to build up the bravery to even say that I had suffered in the past, but dealing with it now? Forget it. I’ll be another sad status scrolled through, labeled “whining” or “pining for attention.” And to be honest, I’d say the same about myself. Get it together, handle it yourself. I told my doctor, that should be enough, right?
When you’re sick, isolation becomes comfortable. You make jokes when you watch yourself fail.
You know people offer to listen, but the words disappear. You’re fine by then. It’s not that big of a deal and it’s not worth bothering them about. Your mouth only works with “it’s not a problem anymore,” instead of, “I didn’t know how to live through last night, and today I can’t catch my breath.”
I don’t know how to fix it. Call it stigma, call it insecurity, call it attention-seeking. All I know is that it was so much easier to pretend I was brave back when I knew this was over. I’m right back where I started, and I don’t know what to say.