round two of the piece about my sister

My sister is a cutter.

I watched people on the train today looking at a woman with tattoos.  Her tattoos cover her arms and legs and back.  She was wearing all black and it seems that every area of exposed flesh was covered in black ink.  They watch her, diverting their eyes, so as not to stare because starring is rude.

People look at my sisters scars like .  Both wrists with uniformed lines of raised flesh that’s a lighter complexion than the rest of her skin.  You don’t notice them right away and she’s stopped being ashamed of them.  If you look closely you can see them; these lines of raised flesh.  Horizontal lines starting at the crease of skin where her palm and wrist meet and continuing up her forearm until about her elbow crease.
I remember when I first learned about them.  It was five years ago, the summer before I left for New York.  I got a phone call from my mother telling me that my sister tried to kill herself.  That she was in the hospital.  That I should come soon.  We found out later that her boyfriend had found her like that, in the bathroom covered in blood a razor in her hand.  The psychologist told us that she didn’t try to kill herself, really, the cuts (plural) were not deep enough and there were so many of them.  She was a cutter. 

A cutter.  In so much pain mentally, she needed to feel physically manifested self inflicted pain.  That’s what the doctors said.  She stayed in the hospital for almost two weeks.  After the hospital she spent two months in rehab before getting to go back home.  I left for New York a month after she left rehab.  She did it again, to her other wrist, about six months later and again to the first a year after that.

Sometimes when things go wrong in my life and I should feel pain but don’t I wonder if I’m a cutter, too.  Just one that’s too chicken shit to feel physically manifested self inflicted pain.  I’d rather not feel anything at all.  I’d rather allow myself to shut down.  I shut myself down; system after system going dark like turning off the power switch by switch in the breaker room a large warehouse building.  You see the lights going from illuminated florescent beams to still, quiet blackness.  Floor by floor the light goes out and the building is empty and quiet, still and black.  After a while the quiet black building is forgotten and is alone in its stillness.  There’s nothing there, it appears to the naked eye, nothing worth seeing nothing there at all but a deserted old warehouse that may have been something worth while once upon a time.

My sister is a cutter. 

She wears her scars on her arms for the world to see.  You can see the pain she’s been through, and though you may not know what caused the pain and you’re not sure if she’s still in pain-you know there was pain.  There was pain there.  Real pain, pain so deep that it’s left permanent marks as evidence of its existence.  It’s pain that can’t be forgotten because you can always see it.  It’s a permanent reminder of that time when she needed make herself feel.


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