Day 1: I tell you about the butterflies drawn in red ink on my left thigh. I tell you about the butterfly project, a project in which self-harmers draw butterflies on themselves to help them see the damage they’re doing. And you sit right across from me, knees almost touching mine, leaning in to hear my whispers, your eyes soft and full of concern. You ask me how long it’s been and you thank me for trusting you and you say that you’ll be there for me whenever I want you to.
Day 15: it’s the first time I’ve cut myself since I’ve told you and I reach out to you, desperate and crying, wondering if you really will be there for me. You are. You leave class and come find me and sit with me until I feel safe again. You make me laugh and take my mind off what I’ve done to my skin. I almost forget about the red lines that I’ve cut into my leg.
Day 32: I’ve done more damage than I usually do, and I’m scared, and I call you, and you rush to me. You speak gently to me and ask me if you can confiscate my sharp objects and help me seek out resources. You promise that you won’t force me to do anything I don’t want to and you say over and over that you’re only asking because you care so much about me. So I go with you and I get myself some help. You wait outside until I’m done with my counseling screening, and you spend the day with me. I whisper thank you at dinner, and you smile at me and say that you’re so proud.
Day 68: it’s 3AM, and I’m terrified out of my wits. My mind is racing, my hear is threatening to beat out of my chest, I can’t breathe but I’m breathing too quickly, and the panic is seeping into every one of my limbs, turning my hands and feet numb. I’m so scared and I don’t know what to do, so I call you. You answer, and it’s so obvious that you’ve been deeply asleep. Your voice is husky and your words are slurred, but as soon as you hear the flood of my desperate cries interrupted by gasping breaths, you wake up and rush to my room, on the phone with me all the while. You arrive, still in pajamas, hair mussed by sleep and sit next to me. You sit next to me all night. You have an 8AM lab, but you don’t leave until 7AM, when I finally feel okay again.
Day 97: I don’t have the means to keep affording my treatment and medication and want to stop it until I have the money again, and when you hear that, you immediately offer to pay for everything until I have the funds. I tell you that I can’t let you do that, and you tell me that you can’t let me stop getting what I need so you’ll do anything and everything you can to help. We argue, and we eventually agree on telling my parents so that they can help me pay for my resources. You even come with me to talk to them, arm around my shoulders, thumb rubbing my skin through my shirt comfortingly, supporting me both physically and emotionally. My parents thank you, and you say that you’ll always support me.
Day 124: I’ve been doing better, especially with all your help. But I still have bad days. And those are rough. I’m deeply insecure and afraid, and I’m constantly on edge that you’ll give up on me and abandon me and not want to support me anymore. And you notice that I’m quieter and distracted, and you ask me what’s wrong. And it all comes spilling me out. I tell you all my fears and you have me come sit next to you on your bed. I start crying, and then you pull me close to you. You hold me, my head against your chest so that I can hear your heartbeat, one arm around my back to rest on my waist, your other arm over and above my head, protecting me from the world while your hand plays with my hair because you know I find it comforting. You hold me while I cry and tell me that you care about me and that I mean so much to you and that you promise to stay by my side and that you promise never to stop supporting me. I whisper okay and then you put on my favorite movie, give me my favorite chocolate, and hold me until I’m okay.
Day 155: it’s my birthday. You call me and tell me that my birthday package is on its way from across the country, and when I get it that evening, it’s two books that I really like and they’re awesome and I really appreciate them. I would call you back immediately but I know it’s late where you are and you had a long day at work. I’ll call you tomorrow.
Day 156: I call you to say thank you, and you don’t pick up. I know you’re working overtime today so I brush it off and tell myself that I’ll try again later.
Day 158: You still haven’t responded, which is weird because you almost always text me everyday. So I check some social media to see if anything has happened. Something has. I panic and frantically try to contact you, but none of my attempts are successful.
Day 161: You still haven’t responded, and I’m worried and anxious and I just want you to be okay. And I want us to be okay, but even if we’re not, as long as you’re okay… Well, that’s okay. I just want you to be happy.
Day 173: still nothing.
Day 187: nothing.
Day 192: nothing nothing nothing.
Day 200: what did I do wrong?? What did I do? I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry. Please, just tell me that you’re okay. Or that we’re okay. Or just say something. Anything. Please.
Day 250: We see each other at a club meeting, and it’s late, and you offer to walk me back. But it’s a silent walk, and we don’t speak. I’m so angry and upset and anxious and worried and any words that I had planned to say won’t come to mind. We are back to my room, and you say that you’re sorry for not contacting me. You’re sorry that you’ve hurt me. You’re sorry that your promises were lies. You say that the end of our friendship is all your fault. And then you say that that’s it. That we’re not friends anymore and that you hope this doesn’t affect our club relationship. And then you leave. Never before have I seen your eyes so cold. Never before have I heard you speak so sharply to me. Never before have you left without saying goodnight and see you tomorrow and giving me a quick hug and saying that I can call if I need you. Never before have you treated me with anything but sincerity and kindness and warmth and platonic love. I never knew you could be so harsh and cruel. I stand there sobbing, ignoring the stares of people around me.
Day 260: it’s another club meeting, and as soon as you walk in the door, I know I can’t handle this. You avoid my eyes and pretend that I don’t exist and I can’t breathe. The surge of panic and fear flows through my veins and grips my heart and lungs, and I have to use every single coping method and distraction tactic that I know just to prevent myself from having a full blown anxiety attack in the middle of the room. But I’m on edge the rest of the night, and all I can do is stumble to my room and sleep through the night and the next day. I am emotionally drained.
Yesterday: I’m still angry and upset and hurt and grieving and it’s taking every ounce of my willpower to avoid falling back on old self-harm methods. But I’m still struggling along, still clean. Still wondering how you could do this to me, why you would do this to me, what could I have done wrong??
Yesterday: I can still feel your knuckles on my jawline as you gently nudge the hair out of my face with your fingertips. I can still feel the warmth of your hands on my shoulders and waist. I can still hear your heartbeat and gentle, caring promises in my ears. I can still see your concerned eyes and proud smile in my mind. I still have some of your things, and you still have some of mine. I wish I could burn everything and throw away the ashes. But memories don’t burn.
Yesterday: I have a stronger moment and I tell myself that this is for the better because if you could do this to me, then I don’t need you in my life. I tell myself that you aren’t worth my pain and tears, and I tell myself that I’m going to be okay.
Today: I’m standing in front of strangers and pouring out all my heartbreak. I’m wondering how I’m able to do this because frankly, I don’t know how to trust anymore. I don’t know how to let friends get close anymore. The fear of abandonment that was once deep-seated is now ingrained in every single cell of my being. I never knew the wounds of betrayal were so permanent.
Today: I’m holding the fragile shattered pieces of my heart in shaking hands. I’m standing on trembling legs and hoping that no one can hear my heart thumping against my ribs. And I’m here. I’m here without you, and I’m going to be okay.
Today: I hope you have a long, successful life. Because that’s what I’ll be doing; I just thought you’d be in it too.
Today: I can say that suicide did not defeat me, and neither will you.
Today: I can say, fuck you traitor. Fuck. You.