Paper and Blood – A Personal Essay

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Image: dreamstime.com

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.

Nope.

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…

Nope.

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.