The first cut

Self-harm, they call it these days. But back in the day, I didn’t know what it was called. Was it called self-harm? If it was, I didn’t know. There was no internet then. I couldn’t look it up. I didn’t even know that it happened to other people. I was eleven. That was the first time. You never forget the first time. If I close my eyes, or even if I don’t, but I take a moment to remember, I can still remember the feeling. The physical feeling, the mental feeling. The trepidation. The allure. The fear. The anticipation.

I’m in the shower. I’m gonna use the Swiss army knife my dad gave me (yeah, he gave an eleven-year-old a Swiss army knife) to make an incision in my skin. But where? It’s gonna hurt like hell. Or will it? Surely it can’t hurt more than what I feel inside. I’ve had bruises and scrapes on my knees before from playing. It wasn’t that bad. It doesn’t take that long to heal. Just a little cut. OK, my finger tip. The tip of my left index finger. OK here goes. No, I’m too scared. I can’t do it. I stare at the fingertip for ages, water from the shower running down my face, my hands, pocket knife in the other hand. How hard can it be? It’s just gonna be a small cut. One that I can control. One that I can do to myself, not something that is done to me. I am in control of this pain. I am in control, not them. OK here goes. Slice. Er … nothing. Not even a scratch. My skin is tougher than I thought. OK, again. Slice. Ouch. An electric current speeding through my finger to my brain. Blood seeping through from inside the damaged leather, washing down my hands and forearm by the shower. That hurt. Of course it did. Did I think it wouldn’t hurt? No, of course not. I knew full well it would hurt. Does it hurt as much as I do inside? No. It doesn’t. And I can see this pain, well the manifestation of the pain on my skin. I understand this pain. In a few days it will close up and heal. But I don’t understand what’s inside. What I can’t see. And I don’t know how it can heal. But this. This is superficial. I can see it. I can live with this. I will do it again.