Paper and Blood – A Personal Essay


Personal Essay — In my bedroom on a warm, summer day – listening to Pink Floyd – ‘The Final Cut’ – I laid in bed, bawling my eyes out while I wrote on pieces of loose leaf paper about how much my life sucked.  I had gotten the cassette tape from a boy who had no business being friends with someone my age. Looking back, I’m pretty sure he was a creepy lover of tween girls, but we stopped talking by summer’s end, so it didn’t matter.

Anyway, at thirteen, I didn’t really understand the concept of suicide. I just knew I hated my life, I was ugly and no one loved me.

Back to the pieces of loose leaf paper. I don’t remember verbatim what I wrote, but I still have vivid flashbacks of being in my childhood bedroom – painted sunflower yellow – while posters of heavy metal bands, Madonna, and a pennant for the 1980 Phillies crusted those walls like a prerequisite to an underage life crisis.  Sitting beside the stack of Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Pink Floyd cassette tapes were my trusty stuffed animals adorably named Donna and Leo.

The paper was atop whatever magazine I had that day… probably a music magazine as I kept replaying and writing the words down that boy said to me:

you’re ugly. I don’t like you. you’re too weird. I tricked you. 

I found a razor blade in my dad’s top dresser drawer at some point previously. The steel was now hot between my thumb and finger  — I had held it so long just staring at the words on the paper, it felt like a part of me. Those words had to be factual, after all. I mean, I was thirteen years old and didn’t fit in with anyone; hell, even my parents didn’t pay me any mind. Those words made sense; they made everything fit.
I waited until the title track to the cassette tape came on: The Final Cut.

This is absolutely one of the saddest songs I know. I played it over… and over… and over… until I was able to sing the song while I sobbed all over myself and the words on the paper. I took that razor blade and cut my right wrist… then my left.

They weren’t large, gaping wounds (those would come later in life) but more so little slits surely significant enough to bleed.  There I was sobbing and bleeding for what seemed hours (more like forty minutes) waiting for someone to come in my bedroom and tell me I was none of those things on the paper. I needed to hear someone tell me I was worthy and loved… even at thirteen years old.

At some point, the written pain on paper became suffocated in my blood; surely I would feel faint and start to die at any moment. I needed a do-over.


I was carted off to my paternal grandmother’s – a seasoned woman who smoked long cigarettes and drank vodka and orange juice – where she gave me vitamin E pills to burst open and rub on my wrists.

I assumed (from watching after school specials I guess) that after a kid tries to die on purpose, that maybe we talk about it or take me somewhere to talk to someone…


The truth was, teen suicide wasn’t a thing then. All I got for my first suicide attempt was bandaged wrists and some lousy vitamin E pills… oh, and all my Pink Floyd tapes were taken away, because yeah, it was the music’s fault.

Isn’t it always the music’s fault.

Author: D. A. M. Steelman

I could get through life just fine quoting heavy metal lyrics.

16 thoughts on “Paper and Blood – A Personal Essay”

  1. Well I can say this for sure that it was so good in the old days. No internet, no Google, for you to look up on, How to cut your wrists properly or How to kill yourself?
    Basically we all were novice when we attempted it.
    [I had a similar experience and the act to end my life was so funny that I never thought that my first (and till now last) attempt will give me a chuckle every time I think about it].
    Your post bring back so many memories. I am still laughing as I am remember my attempt.
    To old, funny looking scars of our life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! Gosh, I can’t imagine what it is like to be a kid or teenager in this day and age. To be constantly monitored must feel like being a famous person but without the paycheck. Glad I was able to make you chuckle! Trust me when I say, I am mostly chuckling and shaking my head when I write my personal essays.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah we were so stupid. Even our attempts were so stupid. How did we actually grow up without destroying ourselves remains a mystery. Paper and Cassettes, the mac and iPod of our times. (But I never realised I belonged to a younger generation than you.Your mentioning of the Final Cut Cassette gave you away. I grew up listening to the crappy list of the late 90s.Music was Dumb and loud.)
        No price for guessing that before I attempted it the first thing I did was I broke the Cassette Player. And you know what the worst part was, Since my Parents still don’t know about it (Yes it was such a crappy attempt), I had to listen to their scolding for a whole hour for breaking it..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ugh… that’s terrible about the way you felt and the cassette player. Well, hopefully, you’re doing better these days… it was a long road for me… but now I want to take my experiences and hopefully help people to know they were never alone in the way they felt.
    “Paper and Cassettes, the Mac and iPod of our times. ” That is a great line…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear you loud and clear. We are all damaged pieces. But you know what’s funny. We picked ourselves up. No therapy, no counselling, nothing. Just pick yourself up and go on as if nothing had happened. You know what I said after my attempt failed, “Even God is too scared to take me in. I will show him”.
    Ha.. Ha.. The narcissistic behavior.


  4. Hey before I forget I want to tell you the last comment you wrote didn’t show on my notifications because it was not written as a reply. Basically that means that you were talking to no one. It was sheer good luck (accidently touching your post icon) that I found your comment.
    And take care of that migraine of yours. My mom has it. So I know it knocks your senses right out of the park.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In fact I didn’t want to like this post ,but there is no other option to express any other kind of feelings. I felt very heavy at heart reading this (So also many other post of yours). Some days back , before I started following your blog , when I first saw your blog the immediate thought was ‘a beautiful woman owning a beautiful blog. Definitely she might me writing great articles ‘ My instincts are true , you write touching peoples heart . Hope and pray you are having good things at your end .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much… I like to share my truth in the hopes I can let someone know they are not alone in how they feel.
      I’m really trying to write more short stories… but I’m having a tough time these past weeks.
      My life is quite amazing these days… thank you so much for your heart-warning complements… I enjoy your writing as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope,wish and pray that all your pains get erased through writing. Let the past vanish off from your memories and welcome the present with abundance of joy and happiness. Happy writing 😍😍


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