Posted in Life Lessons


It is an understatement to say that I was a troubled teen. I was dramatic, volatile and vulnerable.

I made bad decisions that could have had worse results. I would meet much older boys and men that I had barely chatted with online. Alone. It was like To Catch a Predator, only Chris Hansen never came around the corner. We joke about my bad behavior now, but I was reckless and am incredibly lucky to be alive.

I wanted companionship and connection, but as I’m sure you can guess the guys I met online were looking for something different. Sometimes a vague interaction resembling a relationship would form, but it wouldn’t be long before I was back at my computer in an AOL chat-room offering myself to strangers for free.

I got the idea to brand myself from school. We were reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in AP English and having secured my position as an outcast, I found myself identifying with Hester.

I was fifteen and in a relationship with a nineteen year old boy, but I never fully stopped talking to other boys online. I ended up cheating on him. When I got home I couldn’t face the reflection in the mirror. The shame and anger only escalated. I thought of myself as the lowest of the low. I needed to do something to show myself a lesson.

I sat cross legged facing myself in a full length mirror. I held the razor blade I broke off from a shaver to my left shoulder and pressed. I don’t really remember the pain, but writing this I can almost feel the adrenaline. I made two lines and watched the droplets of blood trickle down my arm. Then I did the same thing on my right shoulder. “There,” I thought, “now everyone can see how worthless I am.”

To this day I avoid wearing anything sleeveless. In the years that followed whenever my marks were exposed and anyone asked about them I broke into tears.  I was a cutter and these were neither my first nor my last cuts, but while the others have faded to ghostly lines these marks are as fresh as they were over a decade ago. Try as I often do, I can’t bury something so visible.

We’ve learned to live together these scars and I, but I think they will always make me feel uneasy. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to speak aloud about them, but I think by writing this I’ve lifted some of the weight that carrying their secret story has put on me.



Storyteller, poet, crazy cat lady, wannabe gamer, intersectional feminist, idea powerhouse, emotional mess, perpetual daydreamer.

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