Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

Jeanie A.
Norman, Oklahoma USA



PART one- the straight line
i was ten when i made my first major suicide attempt. most people do not think of ten and suicide together in a sentence (from what i hear, most people don't think of suicide much at all). "ten" and "attempt" are words that have a direct connection for me. to be not-to-scientific, the part of my brain that keeps memories of fourth grade directly pulls me toward the part of my brain that stores information about cutting my wrist.
the attempt wasn't premeditated, and that probably helps to explain the seriousness of the damage. i wasn't happy (i don't really understand that there is actually such a thing as an individual 'happy childhood', but i at least now can grasp the concept of happiness as an abstract - again, connections. we humans learn it as we live it.). i had a friend spend the night, and through a series of misfortunes, she broke a glass by putting it on an over burner while i took a shower. she was by no means the best educated cookie when it came to what happens when frozen glass is placed on a hot oven burner.
if you are not the best educated cookie about this, don't worry, it's easy to learn -glass shatters.
i dressed and came into the kitchen to find the mess that she had (self-preservingly) put in the sink. i pulled the trash can over an stood on a stool to reach the sink (i have always been short, and still use a stool in the kitchen.). she went to the living room.
for twelve years i have lied to my family and friends and acquaintances and contacts and doctors about what happened next. the fake story goes involves slippery wet hands handling glass and dropping it. the true story involves a black out, a swish of my left arm, open eyes, and the realization that i had done it.
i had cut myself once before this, on the little ankle behind my left hand. there is a scar there, too.
i didn't tell my friend what happened. instead, i walked to the bathroom to look at my face. i expected a change, a difference, a death sentence. i was pale. i could see into my wrist, see the flesh, see the blue line that i had barely missed shivering inside that cavern. see the red rising up, filling my cup and going over.
which means, it started bleeding.
the first drop of blood that escaped shook me back. i was a helpless person, a child with a hole like jesus, unable to fix the way that things were going. i went to the kitchen adn cried until my friend came.
blur, and my mom is on the phone at work, and i can hear her screaming over the receiver, hear her say that she is coming. i do a lot of soaking through towels and blacking back out.
hospital, we are in an office where they interview you to find out what priority you emergency has in relation to others. high priority. i am still alive. still awake. still breathing.
i have a secret.
PART two - the lightning bolt
while i had missed my lifeline, i had severed the four major nerves that took my brain straight down and told my fingers (except my pinky) and my thumb just what i expected from them. this meant a night in the hospital, so many times reiterating what had happened as an accident. it meant reconstructive surgery the next day. it now means that (amazingly the only remainging problem, i'm told) my middle finger is still rather unresponsive. it means that i can only type with one digit on my right hand. it means that i often spell "and" "adn". one side is faster than the other.
over night, the severed pieces of me crept back up to their starting places, relieved of the tension that had once possessed them. the doctors, those great men who had to see things like this daily, who were no longer affected, who had conversations with me until i fell asleep in the operating table, they had to go find those wandering weeds, those parts that no longer cared much for their previosu marriages to one another, those lines of communication i had freed.
they had to cut me open. again, starting up and down from the corners i had made. geometry in my skin, something foreign. this is not supposed to happen.
did you know that? that this is not supposed to happen?
so they saved me for a future of misspelling words, pretending that this was something caused by habit, some strange way of learning. still saying 'it was an accident' when someone notices.
as far as i have encountered, people accept the truth with a quiet sort of disinterest, something that stretches them so much from their concept of pre-adolescence is a hard thing to choke down and really understand. i can't say i understnad it myself.
but i know the actions. i movie reel it back and add in my current emotions, my current perception. the feeling of it, the feeling of being so young and so ready to be done with it , is what, luckily enough, remains hidden from me.