Authors: Maria Ann Green
“Aww, thanks guys! Honestly, I stopped with the help of you. After group, I would go home so upset. I hated knowing you each hurt enough on the inside to hurt yourselves on the outside. I was sad for everyone. I went home knowing how amazing each of you is, and I cried because I knew what you were struggling with. Then, I realized I never wanted to make anyone hurt for me in the same way. Not anymore. So I just stopped!”
Meagan was not only proud of Ashley, but she was also envious. She understood her jealousy was due to her want for healing as well, but it was still there, poking at her mind. She hoped eventually she could also say she was done. She softened her frown as she watched Ashley continue.
“I haven't cut in two-and-a-half weeks, and I have come up with ways to keep me from caving in to any urge. I have two friends who remind me to call any time I just need to talk. I also started painting again. I used to love it, but when I was cutting, I never made the time. Now I realize how therapeutic it can be for me.”
“Wow, what an inspiration. Would you mind bringing in a painting that you have finished recently as a way to cope?”
Meagan thought that was a brilliant idea.
Ashley responded without any hesitation. “Absolutely, I'd love to.”
Haley no longer had her eyes cast down. She was now fully engaged as hope spread around the room like dandelion seeds in the wind.
Ashley's mixture of hope and confidence reached all the way to her eyes in its brilliant radiance. “Okay, now I guess I should get to the sharing part. I think I will talk about the last time I cut.”
Everyone quieted down, and the somber feeling took over once again.
“Honestly, nothing big happened like in the other two stories. I was home alone, and I had the urge. Have you ever wanted to do it just because?”
Meagan had felt that urge come out of nowhere too, but she didn't vocalize this. She saw a few girls nod hesitantly, though.
“Well, I have too. That time, I was watching some stupid rerun in my bedroom, and I just grabbed my scissors and poked a couple times at my arm until I bled. I let the little holes crust over, and then I picked at them later in the evening to reopen them. I used my fingernails and dug a little deeper. I remember realizing how annoyed I was because I hadn't felt the same sense of relief I normally do. I used to feel like a balloon of pressure was popped with whatever I cut myself with, and everything bad rushed out, leaving me with just relief. But that time, nothing like that happened. I felt no relief. Nothing popped. I didn't feel better.”
Meagan wondered if everyone's pattern of self-harm evolved over time like Ashley's had.
“Afterward, I wondered what in the world I was doing. I decided then and there cutting wasn't necessary for me anymore. And I haven't done it since.”
Meagan could see the joy on Ashley's face.
“The next day I made a collage of all the things I can do instead of cutting when I'm depressed, or angry, or the mood strikes.” Ashley then clapped her hands together and beamed with a special declaration only these girls could understand.
She had overcome. She had survived. And she was stronger now than she had ever been.
“Thank you so much.”
Meagan gulped. It was her turn. She had decided to describe the time she had cut with a simple corkboard pushpin. She worried if she would be judged, though obviously she shouldn't. She worried if they would understand. But she had no more time left to worry.
She took a steadying breath and began.
After Meagan's heartfelt description of the sorrows and guilt-ridden remorse she went through after that specific bout of cutting, she was surprised to see several eyes brimmed with unshed tears. She was touched she was listened to and understood.
Apparently, she had had no reason to worry at all.
Meagan hadn't known exactly what to expect after describing such a personal experience, but it wasn't this exactly. She felt better than anticipated, and once again, she was thankful to have this group and these girls in her life.
Everyone had shared now except for Alex. Meagan considered Alex, and the words that came to mind were
Meagan felt bad for thinking of Alex as forgettable, but she was not the only one. And though that didn't make it much better, at least her theory had solid footing. Their group leader had started to describe their assignment for the next week when Alex raised her hand timidly without interrupting.
Meagan knew almost nothing about Alex, other than the obvious as to why she was here. Studying her, she noted Alex's hair was limp with a slight sheen of grease, she rarely stopped moving, and Meagan had no idea what color Alex's eyes were, as there had never been direct eye contact between the two. Alex tended to keep to herself, even in group, unless she was directly called upon.
When Alex began, her voice was so soft Meagan had to strain to catch everything.
“Ummâ¦ well, I was trying to think about what to share, and ummâ¦ I decided on the time that affected me most with consequences afterward.”
Meagan saw a flush creep across Alex's cheeks and wondered what was to come next.
“Everyone thinks my broken arm,” she gestured to the unsigned cast held high with a sling, “was an accidentâ¦ butâ¦ it wasn't.”
This time Meagan couldn't help but suck in a loud sharp breath.
Holy crap! Had she actually broken her own arm?
She had a difficult time comprehending the idea.
“No, no, d-don't think the worst!” Alex stuttered out quickly, and after a breath, she continued. “Ummâ¦ I didn't break my own arm. I'm too much of a coward for that. Ummâ¦ well, what had happened was sort of a planned accident. If that makes sense.”
Meagan noticed Alex's eyes were dark brown as they briefly flashed around the room.
“I was so down la
st week, and nothing was bringing me up. I tried cutting first. It didn't help, and that compounded my frustration, because it has never
worked before. Well, I knew my sister was in a crabby mood, so I ummâ¦ started to pick little fights with her throug
hout the afternoon. I pushed her buttons as much as I could, over and over, just hoping she would start a real fight. Well she did. However, theâ¦ the bad part about that was how close to the stairs I was when she pushed me, and I fell all of the way down both flights. Obviously, my arm broke, and I had to go to the hospital.”
Alex's eyes filled with tears that threatened to spill over with each rough breath, but that was the only display of an emotion other than anxiety Meagan noticed.
“I had no release when the bone broke, though. It was pointless, because I was still depressed. Now I have to wear this dumb cast for weeks. It is making everything way more difficult. It's hard to get dressed, even harder to shower, and I just feel helpless on top of depressed. I never realized what would happen, and I definitely regret the whole thing.”
No one said anything.
The pause swelled with unspoken nervousness until Alex added, “Well, ummâ¦ that's all. That's my experience, and I learned from it.”
, you are so lucky you didn't sustain worse injuries. You all know I hate to lecture, but that was exceptionally dangerous. Thank you for sharing, and I am glad you are okay, but please promise me you won't do anything like that again. Remember all of you can call me anytime you need to talk. Does anyone need my card again?”
Meagan and the others all shook their heads. Meagan gently touched her poem notebook. It was where she kept the business card. It was secure in the pocket of the notebook that was always with her.
Their leader spoke again with a few minutes left in group. “Okay good. Well, the assignment I was hoping everyone would participate in over the next week is simple. I bought a bunch of disposable cameras. One for everyone. I would like each of you to take one home with you over the next week and take pictures related to your cutting or hurting yourself. It can be something that triggers you, a visual that reminds you of the act, or anything related you want take a picture of. I will collect the cameras next week and have everything developed. I will look at each before giving them back to you. We can discuss what pictures you took when we meet next week. How does that sound to everyone? I thought it would get us all to look at it a little differently.” His eyes were hopeful as he moved around the room, making eye contact with each one.
Meagan was again excited. She started to brainstorm ideas to capture on film. She had little time to consider, though, as her attention shifted to the additional statement added before the bell rang.
“I also know many of you enjoy writing about the subject of cutting. I wanted to offer to read anything that any of you wishes to share. I don't have a degree in English, but I am willing to read anything you bring to me.”
The bell rang then, startling Meagan.
“Okay, ladies. I will see you next week. As always, thank you so much for showing up, participating, and for your honesty and bravery. Also, please call me if you need anything.”
And then everyone stood to leave. Everyone but Meagan. She was lost in her own thoughts, contemplating if she should share her poems with him or not.
One cut upon my arm
One slice into my wrist
One scar put into my mind
Mistakes I continue to make
Each drop of blood that surfaces
Numbs the pain inside
I can't control how I feel or what I do
And day after day
I see the permanent reminders
Of how bad it is
A teardrop hits the floor
And melts into
The blood that's already there
I'm not so sure why
One of my friends asked me a question the other day that I wasn't sure how to answer. I went home and thought about it a lot before I could come up with anything. She asked me why I did it.
Why do I cut?
She had never gotten so depressed that she was tempted to place a sharp object to the soft skin of her body and break it, so she couldn't understand why I keep doing it, time after time. She was confused, and she wanted to understand my actions and my thought process better. I didn't have an answer for her.
In uncertainty, I turn to you, my diary, to help me figure out my motivations. Are they the same as they were before? I used to want control. I used to want to ease my pain. But are those still my reasons?
Why do I do it? I'm trying to figure that out. All I know is I still feel a little bit better after I do it. Everyone else is allowed to hurt me, so why shouldn't I be allowed to do the same to myself? I do feel more in control when I do it. I'm taking charge in a part of my life no one else has any say over. I choose to do it or not to do it, how often and where, and I am the only one to make these decisions. It does release some of my pain. I feel like it's a way of letting go of some of my problems. I just I let them float away, and I feel a little bit better.
My ultimate goal is to feel better. Doesn't everyone want to feel as good as they are able? So, in some messed up way, I guess I cut to feel better.
But maybe it will not always make me feel better. Maybe there will be a good time to stop. I hope that's the case.
He said he loved me
He said he was true
I chose to believe it
Got sucked into this game
And then unexpectedly
He gave me a note
I was excited
Not knowing what was in store
He said he still loved me
But he had to break it off
He loved another girl
I knew she was prettier
I knew she was great
I unhappily accepted it
And later at home I cried
And I cried
He made me feel inferior
But worst of all
He made me feel unloved
And in fact
Would you love me more
If I had gold streaks in my hair
Or blue tints in my eyes
Would you like me more
If my laugh was more like hers
Or my height was slightly taller
Would you find me more attractive
If my legs were longer
Or my chest a little bigger
Would I be more appealing
If I was into cheerleading
Or my favorite color wasn't pink
Would you want me more
If I was less myself
And more like everyone else
Would you love me more
If I wasn't truly me