For someone who has never broken a bone, my body is covered with marks, scars and other blemishes. Proof of a life not necessarily well lived, but a life lived. Period. Scars are proof I once suffered, once felt pain…. But survived. Nothing serious, just a series of little jabs throughout my life that have left their undeniable mark on my flesh.
These marks are minimal. Little cuts, little bug bites, little nothings all over my body. Little things that never heal because I pick and poke and pull at them. Ripping scabs away from the skin. The momentary sensation of relief and pleasure rushes through my body as I momentarily feel stronger than everything that has hurt me. Sometimes there is pain. Sometimes there is blood. But there is always satisfaction and nearly always a scar.
It’s the OCD, I’m told, that causes me to do this. It causes me to hurt myself and it prevents me from stopping it. I am conscious of it even as its happening that I shouldn’t be doing it. I can’t stop, won’t stop. Band aids have covered cuts all over me. I don’t even know where some of these have come from. Why don’t they heal? Why does it look infected, people ask. I don’t know, I offer, but I know. Of course I know.
The destruction of my body is a way to make myself look and feel as broken and pained outside as I feel inside. Physical manifestations of a broken spirit. A hurting soul. I can control this pain because I am causing it. I can stop it, too, but for 31 years I haven’t been able to.
I have been picking scabs since I was a kid. I have marks all over my legs from summers on Cape Cod. On nearly every inch of my body there is a scar and most don’t even have stories. They’re simply ancillary evidence of my own self destruction. I have very few legitimate scars – one from a chemical burn, one from a radiator to the toe and another from flag stone to the knee the summer before first grade. These are the scars I remember. The scars like normal people have. I wear mine like pock marks all over. Like freckles.
I was always told to stop picking as a kid, but I didn’t know I couldn’t until at 29 I was diagnosed with OCD for my compulsions. This isn’t normal behavior, but why can’t I stop. What is my problem? How can I fix it?
At this moment I have at least 6 scabs I am picking at, consciously. Regretfully. I haphazardly cover them to give them time to heal, but do I really? If I know wha I’m doing is hurting myself why can’t I jus knock it out? It’s not that easy, I guess, to reverse a lifetime of obsession and a hobby that actually makes me feel good. The only regret, I suppose is the fact everyone can see the scars I leave behind. But mabe that’s good. They can’t see the scars inside me that make me hate myself, but if they see the ones across my body maybe they will care. Maybe they will ask if I’m okay.
It’s a cry for help, I think. Sounding a silent alarm for anyone who takes the time to notice. The cutting is different, yet very much the same. Like a true cutter, it is in places that people can’t see at a gglance. Places easily covered. Like my feet. They have had a battery of abuse over the years but the satisfaction I get every time I cut them delights me, even if its painful to walk the next day.
Only once, really, did I legitimately cut my forearms. I went to the 99 cent store, bought straight blades and ace bandage. A tool kit, of sorts. My arm was riddled with cuts. Red, bloody rips through the skin. My whole forearm bared the brunt of my misery and it felt good.