Breathe in …
She’s never too far behind and I know I shouldn’t love her but I do. I know I should not think about her, say her name, or even mention her in mundane conversations. Breathe out … no matter how many times I attempt to leave her, to be someone else, to move on from this relationship we keep dancing around, she’s never too far behind.
Breathe in …
During every pleasurable moment of my life she’s there to remind me of what we meant to each other.
Even the small moments; a moment of indulgence as I partake of a small piece of chocolate—it’s sweetness on my tongue—and I have to bite my lip because I want her to be with me. She doesn’t leave me, even in the most intimate of times; those fleeting moments of ultimate mindless bliss, of pure joy, of having his hands around my neck squeezing until I can feel the blunt edge of his finger nails digging into my skin. A husky male voice in my ear with whispered concerns would follow. Am I alright? Is this what I want? I only tell him that I need this. I want this. I want more. My entire body goes taut as I hear more than feel his sharp intake of breath as my core tightens around him. Confirmation is no longer needed as his hands squeeze tighter and he pumps harder. The memories are so sweet, and I can see from the corner of my eye that she remembers them as clearly as I do.
Breathe in …
I’m hanging off the edge wanting to fall yet knowing I shouldn’t. I have to be normal. I amnormal. Breathe out … I can do this. I don’t need her. Breathe in … No matter how much I still want to taste her. Wait. What did she just say? I’m trying to understand what the technician is saying, but their words seem to run away from me. Did she say I’m not good for this treatment? Or that I was good? I can’t remember, but I’m glad when she steps out of the small office space to check her notes.
I can feel every muscle, every joint, and ever bone pulse as if they all carry their own heartbeat. Adrenaline, why aren’t you ever around when I need you?
I should have brought a stress ball.
Breathe in …
I should have brought my palm stone. Damn it, I should have brought a book!
Those suggestions are all of course absolutely useless since I can’t exactly do anything about it now.
The once fluffy pillows, and push blankets now feel more like a small nest of needles. The beautifully decorated room is starting to resemble a certain pink kitty loving Harry Potter character. Nothing feels the same, I don’t feel the same, yet I can’t help myself from drifting further down into my chair as my mind continues its path of endless W’s: wondering and waiting. Before I could travel much further on the path of W’s my mind would have me endure, the technician has returned. She’s now telling me the good news. Good news is always good news and yet my smile is just a reflection of her own. It’s time. It’s starting. This is good. I wanted this. It’s for a good cause. It’s for me. I’m doing this for me. To grow. To move on. To be utterly myself. Those were the words I said to myself before the laser beam hit my arm and I surrendered to my dear friend. I felt her arms wrap around me. The feeling of her hands going down my back in such a slow seductive way that it made my toes curl. Her name is Pain. I used to visit her frequently during my experiences with self-harm.
My body presses against the fluffy blankets and richly plush pillows that encase my body. Breathe in … I’m comfortable. Breathe out… I’m at peace. I can do this. Breathe in …The technician gently rotates my arm this way and that way, to better judge the best starting point. I’m sure she felt my body instantly become tense at her touch. She probably thought it was my expectation of pain that caused me to tense; when in fact it was that her gentleness made me recoil into myself. After so many years trying to separate myself from an old habit….after so many years regretting how I handled things with her. Here we are; myself sitting on a throne of soft clouds, while another gently attempts to undo mistakes made so long ago. While I focus ahead I’m staring into the eyes that were once those of my dearest friend and now my newest enemy. A flick of a manicured nail causes all the machines to hum eagerly, ready to serve their purpose—some more eager than others. Breathe in.
I’ve read several thriller, suspense, and horror novels that describe in glorious detail the smell of roasting human flesh, but nothing truly prepare you for it. The impact is startling, even more so when it’s your own skin. I never thought the smell and sight of my arm sizzling would be what would have my teeth clenching to the point of potentially irreversible damage. I can already tell a visit to the dentist would be in my immediate future. I try to make a joke out of the pain; the sight of seeing my arm being cooked under laser light burning itself in my mind. Honestly if this is a laser used for tattoo removal, I can’t imagine how horrifying the smell from a full on Lightsaber would be!
I don’t have any regrets. That’s what I told the laser technician when she gently and ever so carefully used the laser to remove each and every line of art from my Cardcaptor Sakura: Flower Clow Card tattoo. The pain was indescribable. The pain was gorgeous. Instinctively, I rode out the first waves of pain in bliss, but soon hated myself as I watched my feet curl within my silver laced sandals. Old habits are hard to forget. I truly don’t have any regrets on getting my anime tattoo; I just don’t feel like it represents me anymore. I regret my body’s enjoyment of the pain, the adrenaline, the thrill of it all. I began the process of getting my tattoo removed because I’ve grown, I’ve matured, and more importantly I want to use that spot for something more creatively expressive. Another reason why I want to get my tattoos removed is heavily due to the fact that I did not get my tattoos done because I felt driven by the force of creative self-expression.
Unfortunately, I got my tattoos as a way of self-harm.
Many people believe that self-harm is purely represented by someone cutting themselves, even I believed that, yet there are so many other types of self-harm. So imagine my shock when my therapist explains that my tattoos and the reason I obtain them during difficult situations to feel pain was in fact a classic self-injury definition.
Self-harm, self-mutilation, and self-injury are all really bad things to do to yourself yet I did it to myself without intention. The most common form of self-harm is of course cutting your own skin. But self-harm can range in so many other ways, there are so many different behaviors that can be self-injuring actions such as, scratching, hair-pulling (trichotillomania), banging or hitting body parts (dermatillomania), or even interfering with the natural process of a healing wound. There are many different substances and forms of physical abuse that are not considered self-harm, but rather they are considered addictions since they have long lasting side effects. No one ever stop to think that these side effects as another example of self-harm. I mean, why would they? I never thought about it, myself. There are many psychological parameters that meet the defining quality of self-harm. For me getting my tattoos were another way of cutting myself, instead I just paid someone else to do it for me, while not allowing the tattoo to heal for months enjoying the pain of it all.
I don’t regret my tattoos; I just regret what each beautiful tattoo represents. When I look at them I don’t see beautiful artwork; I see all the issues that lead me to go to a tattoo artist to have them hurt me. I used the tattoo artist, I used the pain, and I used the suffering of not allowing the open wound of fresh ink to heal. …All because I didn’t want to deal with my problems at the time head on. I don’t regret my tattoos. I regret not getting help sooner. I regret now allowing myself to heal. I regret not seeking help. I never thought keeping a wound open would be the same as inflicting it. I never realized how much I hid behind the enjoyment of causing myself pain.
The topic of self-harm always seemed to surround the image of a confused, emotionally struggling teenager sitting at the edge of her white porcelain bath tub, using a single bladed razor to slice open the skin of her inner thigh—a place that no one would immediately see.
I don’t regret my tattoos. I regret how I handled my life, how I managed stress, how I harmed myself without realizing it was an issue. I didn’t realize not allowing myself self to eat properly was another form of an eating disorder. I just thought I was unique in the fact that during stressful moments I would limit my eating. I just didn’t realize how much I did in fact limit myself to physically eat food. If anything I thought I was doing well since I’ve always been on the heavier side of the scale. Maybe that’s the reason I kept believing that I didn’t have a problem. Over time I, with the help of four different therapists and psychologists realize that it’s when you don’t think you have a problem, that you probably do have a problem; a problem that is perhaps buried deep within the lies one tells oneself.
As much as I am trying to be a better person for myself, my husband, my daughter, and my family, I can’t seem to stop thinking about how good the pain of the tattoo removal process felt to me. This time, it is a different type of joy I feel. I’m happy that I am able to leave my house to meet people who are new, get my tattoo removed and not constantly think about what they’re thinking about me. I have a surge of happiness at the fact that the delight that I feel from getting this tattoo removed is not from having harmed myself, but from the thrill that comes from the pain of a fresh start.