Unwisely: Part 13

Another portion — maybe the final portion? — of the story from here. Trigger warnings for abuse and self-harm.

Belt cutter Victorinox 2009 G1

The reflection in my bedroom mirror. Summer blond hair along my temple. Under it, a purple bruise blossoming.

Serious and not serious. If it had been anyplace other than my head, no one would have thought twice about it. For my life-is-a-contact-sport self, accidental and incidental body bruises were a frequent occurrence. But heads? Noteworthy. I would at least be expected to remember how I’d gotten it.

I did, of course, remember. That was just the problem.

My hand trembled, holding my knife, opened. I held the blade to the opposite temple. What drove me to cut at all drove me to cut my face now. It required that cut to offset the other mark.

I didn’t know why. Equity, maybe, or balance. Justice.

I resisted.

Vanity. Not wanting another colorful wound on my face.

Anxiety. Worrying my hand would slip, or I would cut too deep. Head wounds can bleed a lot.

Terror. The answers I didn’t have. The questions people would ask.

I couldn’t do it.

I tried the inside of my thigh, flesh that was soft and safe and yielding. I tried the point of my hip, skin that was thin and stretched over bone. I tried the side of my shoulder, muscle that was strong but exposed. Nothing satisfied that need; it had to be the face.

I still couldn’t do it.

The tears came then, flooding, hot, sniveling, desperate. For the first time, I didn’t even try to hold them back. I closed the knife and set it on my dresser, then curled into a ball and sobbed onto my knees.

“This isn’t me,” I repeated, whispering to myself. “This isn’t me.”

I cried myself to sleep on my bedroom floor.

I trembled as I walked up to him, shook. Couldn’t feel my arms at my sides or my legs under me.

I had arrived late to the final exam, so I could be sure he’d already be testing — and couldn’t talk to me — by the time I walked into class. He waited for me after.

“I can’t see you anymore,” I told him straight out, my quaking voice barely above a whisper.

He turned away.





“What?” His voice was quiet too, but dangerous. I tried hard to read his body because he still didn’t face me.

“I can’t see you anymore,” I repeated, louder, with a confidence I didn’t feel.

He turned back to me, his face arranged to be contrite. “Look, I’m sorry. If it’s because of–”

“It’s not because of anything,” I lied. And interrupted, watching how his jaw tensed when I did. “It’s just something that’s going to happen.”

He swallowed. Working, I thought, to keep his composure. Palms up, he held out his hands. “I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I.” This time, I turned away from him.


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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2 comments on “Unwisely: Part 13
  1. “This isn’t me”–Tori, I cannot tell you how relieved I was to read those words from you. I mean, I knew the outcome, knew that you left. But those specific words–acknowledging the identity split that abuse brings–hold a lot of power. Thank you for that.

    • Tori says:

      I think I was lucky, in a way, to be able to experience this in stark contrast to what I’d known before. In other words — and I realize how warped this is to say — I’m almost glad that the abuse became physical so quickly. (The whole story/experience took place over an 8-week-ish summer course.) Not because that’s a good thing in itself, obviously, but because I still had enough grounding in a basically healthy and supportive environment to recognize *this is not good* before I was cut off completely.

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