Jed didn’t like me talking to other people. It didn’t matter if they were girls or boys, if I was flirting or asking for homework help, he expected all of my attention all of the time.
He would meet me at my locker in the morning and meet me after each of my classes to walk me to the next one. If I was talking to someone else when he came up, he would put an arm around my shoulder in a sweet gesture, take his hand and squeeze between my shoulder and neck as hard as he could. No one could tell, but I knew I had done something wrong. I would adjust my attention.
At lunch, if I spoke up he would squeeze my hand or bicep and I knew to shut up.
Everything was controlled by him and these subtle painful movements.
At home, I was alone still, only talking to Jed. I felt dead inside, I had nothing left. I wanted to escape everything. I wanted to escape the physical pain, I wanted to avoid Saturdays, I didn’t want to be around drunk moms (including mine), and I didn’t want to be around my dad’s girlfriend. I didn’t want to be.
I had a letter opener that I was given as a gift that I kept in my nightstand drawer. I couldn’t sleep at night, the compulsion to end the emotional pain was too strong.
For the first time, I pulled the silver letter opener out of my night stand and scraped it across my wrist. I continued to scrape it in the same line over and over again until it bled, then I moved down my wrist repeating the same movement until about 3 inches from the bend in the wrist down were covered in wounds.
I didn’t want to live anymore, but I also wasn’t ready to give up on life completely. I just wanted to feel better.
Every time I pulled the knife against my wrist I felt better. Each cut hurt physically but emotionally something inside me was released, I felt calm.
It wasn’t long before I wore only long sleeves and chunky bracelets because my wrists were constantly scabbed.
Jed was no stranger to my scabs, he was overly aware of them and when I upset him he would grab my wrist and dig his thumb into one of the scabs. Little did he know, that was actually releasing my mind through the pain, he was helping me escape. He would have hated that.
When he wasn’t using my scabs as a way of hurting me physically, he would remind me how emotionally messed up I was to do something like this to myself.
“No one wants to be with someone who is so emotionally damaged. You have made yourself ugly. I’m embarrassed that you aren’t strong enough to deal with life.” I was already embarrassed about what I was doing. I was embarrassed about what he was doing to me. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t strong enough to push him off me. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t mentally strong enough to deal with life. I was embarrassed by my long sleeves.
It had been months of the new routine and I found my voice for the first time. It was lunch and we were sitting alone at a table.
“I don’t want to date you anymore.” I said. I summoned all of my courage and I had said it.
“That’s not true,” he said grabbing my right forearm with his left hand. “Who else will love you?”
“I don’t want to date you anymore.” I said crying. He was right, who else would love me? But I knew I didn’t want to be with him.
“If we aren’t together, and I can’t protect you from yourself,” his thumb dug into my wrist. “I’m going to have to tell everyone what you do to yourself.”
“I have no choice. People need to know what you are doing if you won’t be with me. It’s not like you’re a virgin anymore, people need to know who you really are. I don’t know that anyone will want to be around you when they find out, and I won’t be there to protect you.”
Could this be true? I thought it was. I hated that I wasn’t a virgin, I felt dirty all the time. I hid my wrists every second of every day because I was embarrassed and didn’t want people to judge me. He had a point.
“Ok.” I whispered.
“Ok,” his grip lightened up on my wrist. “I’m glad you know we should be together.”
It wasn’t the last time I tried to end things, and it wasn’t the last time he threatened me with my worst fears.
If you are struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of self-harm you are not alone. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.