This post has been essentially completely written in my head for over a month.
I fear the judgement that follows on the heels of me trying to tell my truth.
I’m going to try to step over that, and just write this.
I made my first suicide attempt in the third grade. Actually, third grade was a banner year for me, I made two suicide attempts. But the first one was pretty sophisticated for a little kid.
My gram had this tropical plant, and she was mad proud of it. It was a dumb cane. (A Dieffenbachia…not that the plant lacked intellect) It was a very pretty plant. It stood in her living room looking like a tall pale green renaissance lady. My gram frequently reminded me not to ever ever touch it because it was “deadly poison”
I yearned to eat that plant.
But really, she was mad proud of it. And I couldn’t just filch a few leaves. The dumb cane only had about three great big graceful leaves. (I was an expert at stealing leaves off Gram’s plants. I would always steal a soft fuzzy leaf from one of her African violets before I had to leave her house…the smell reminded me of gram)
So, I began a program of stalking the dumb cane. I had a little kid’s perfect faith that an opportunity would arise. And it did.
My mother had a penchant for psychotic dogs. Our family went through several of these slavering beasts, they were usually ‘rescued’ from the local pound and they usually promptly were returned to the pound in less than a week. (I’m pretty certain now that the dogs were not the problem, my family was) Anyway, the year I was in third grade, we were treated to Terry the (alleged) terrier. Destruction on paws.
Gram was not keen on animals. But Terry the terrier could not be left anywhere because of her extremely high mayhem quotient. So my family ended up taking Terry to Gram’s for Sunday dinner. She was fenced securely in their backyard, but she promptly began to eat Grampy’s prize winning azaleas. To prevent further harm, the dog was hauled inside, where my mother promptly decided that beating the crap out of the dog would ensure good dog behavior for the rest of the day.
I do not endorse beating the crap out of dogs, but my mother firmly believed in it.
Of course, my mother’s plan backfired spectacularly. To Terry the terrier’s credit she did not bite my mother, but she took some amazing evasive action and began running through Gram’s pristine house in blind panic.
You see where this is going?
Yup. Sure enough the dog knocked over the dumb cane and its fall tore a huge chunk out of one of its leaves. In the ensuing chaos, I snitched the piece of plant and hid in the bathroom and wolfed it down.
I believe that today a suicidal third grader would probably warrant some investigation. It didn’t then. Or, at least, it didn’t in white families from nice neighborhoods. I got out of the hospital in a few days, received my obligatory ass whupping and began my long career of missing school for ‘strep throat’
My family life was no picnic. And blaming them for my suicidal tendencies would be easy.
But there is something in me that does not want to be alive.
If I can find a behavior that hurts this body, I will do it. I have always been, and remain, deeply committed to the act of making my body suffer. From smoking like a chimney to not eating to staying awake for days to sitting in a hunched over position that causes pain, I do it all.
The only thing I really never went for was cutting. I tried it once. It drew too much attention too fast.
I compulsively gouge chunks of skin off my arms face chest legs, any part I can reach.
I guess I’m schizophrenic, and not depressive is that I never have that ‘they’ll miss me when I’m gone’ feeling. I really think, truly believe that if I can just tear enough skin off, stay awake long enough, pull out enough hair that it will prevent some unnameable catastrophe.
I’m not sitting here screaming for help. This is not an invite to a pity party. I’m not trying to solicit attention. This is not an aberration. For me, this is normal. This is how I experience life. This is me finally taking the first step out of the circle of lies.
It was never strep throat.
Dieffenbachia tastes like Hell.