for the love of ME – part ii

*trigger warning: this piece discusses self-harm


It was the day before Thanksgiving and there was a bouquet of flowers at my door. My heart leapt into my mouth as Jenny popped into my head. They’re not from her, they’re from Mom, I thought, knowing I was right but praying for a miracle anyway. I checked the card. Love, Mom.

Alas, no miracle.

I put the flowers in the kitchen and thanked my mom. Then I curled up in bed and cried. My mind flashed back to a bouquet of flowers I’d once given to Jenny. It was a full mostly of roses, but I had the florist stick a special sunflower in the center, just for her, only for her. The massive bouquet was a bit much, but by then, Jenny had known that so was I.

Still haunted by the memory of hope, and feeling the anguish of the single girl holiday blues, Thanksgiving morning was already as offputting as that faux turkey I’d had the Thanksgiving of 2010. Five minutes after I first opened my eyes, my phone lit up with messages from a coworker. She’d accused me something I hadn’t done, and she did it in front of others. Needless to say, I didn’t take it so well. Jenny had done the same thing.

My mind spun into another frenzied flashback and I lashed out at my coworker. “How fucking dare you?” I texted. I was sick of being defined by others. My tolerance was about as low as my temper was short. I said to her what I couldn’t say to Jenny.

I opened the lower drawer of my nightstand and searched for my razor blade. I hadn’t touched it in seven months. I pulled it out and sat on my bed. I dragged the blade across my flesh three times, feeling more relief with each cut. I’d forgotten how satisfying it could be. The blood poured out of me, but the memories stuck in my head like a clot.

Like I did two months later while Jenny and I played phone tag, I cleaned up and bandaged my wounds. As a skateboarder, I’m always prepared for blood. And like I did after those phone calls, I spent the rest of the day in bed.

The month leading to that day was a slippery slope. My depression had been teetering on the edge of another full blown breakdown. Whatever relief I had felt through the Summer had faded with the daytime sunlight. Darkness began to spread through my heart once more. The seven months since I had touched my razor seemingly vanished into thin air.

It was April 20, a day meant to be enjoyed by someone who has smoked pot for half of her life, but enjoyment was in extreme disarray. It came and went, lasting only moments at a time. The desire for change, and enacting those changes, was about the only joy I could muster. It began with rearranging my shower caddy, and blew up into a heavy consideration that would have altered my entire identity.

Emily is a beautiful name. It took two and a half decades of bearing it to realize that. But Emily isn’t what I wanted to change. It was Cradduck. Jenny had dragged me and my name through the mud and I wanted no more association with it. My Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was choking every aspect of who I was. There would be no more Emily Cradduck, I decided.

I texted Elle for advice. She’d changed her name and I sought any form of confirmation that it was a good idea. She didn’t regret her name change, and so I hoped neither would I. But when I explained the desire that had been brimming for months, her confidence and support of my decision began to waver.

“I want everything to be new,” I texted her.

“Dude you have to move on,” she replied.

But I couldn’t just move on. How could I just move on? I whined about Jenny’s actions. “She went from zero to sixty and lied in the process.”

“Accept the actions you both took and move on.” She became more adamant with each word, completely unaware of my extreme fragile state on that particular day. That, I imagine, is why she’s the one I reached out to, the one who always hits me with the hard truth when I can’t bear to face it. The name change was merely an excuse. But the level-headed angel on my shoulder had no idea of the thoughts that truly consumed me that day.

“I’m a good person,” I reminded her.

“I know you’re a good person, it’s just a shitty situation,” she texted back. I asked her to tell Jessica that someday, her old acquaintance and Jenny’s best friend. She’d been there when my nervous breakdown had reached a grand explosion; a volcanic eruption four and a half years in the making. Jessica, Jenny, Elle; they were all left to clean up my shattered remains. I wanted them to remember me as a good person. “Why would you say that?” Elle asked. But I was already in the bath with two knives and a razor blade.

“I got in the shower after work Wednesday night, only I hadn’t the will to stand. The pain is robbing me of any energy. I got on the floor of the tub and put down the drain stopper. I lay in a fetal position on my side and let the water rise around me. It started to cover my face and I didn’t flinch. I wanted to be consumed by the water. Death felt like the best way out. But obviously I’m still here. I held my breath under the water and had this thought, “You’re not going to let yourself die, so why are you letting yourself suffer?” I rose above the surface and took a breath of air. Jenny wasn’t there.” – April 19, 2019 9:52 a.m.

Elle wasn’t the only one I reached out to the day after that journal entry. My mom, Keriann, Jeanne; they’d all received phone calls before and after my stint in the bathtub with two knives and a razor blade. And they were all met with silence.

“I dialed Jenny’s number last night, sitting naked on the bathroom floor, clutching a towel and covered in cuts.” – April 21, 2019 11:24 a.m.

Unlike nine months later when I called Jenny from the same position with fresh cuts, I didn’t call her that night.

“I held the knives to my chest and pushed, but I couldn’t do it. The knives are too weak anyway. Just like me.”

I didn’t call her because I knew by then that it wouldn’t be the last day of my life, like I had thought when I asked Elle to remind Jessica that I’m a good person.

“I don’t know how to finish these lines. Why can’t I ever leave them blank? Yet I contemplate suicide, that’s the ultimate way to leave blank lines – blank pages – a blank life. Would I be gone too soon or right on time?”

There’s really no way to tell. It all comes back to personal belief. Is our death predetermined? The date, the means. Maybe we’ll know when we reach the other side. If you believe there is another side, that is.

But suicide can’t possibly be the answer. And cutting isn’t the answer. The relief of the blood escaping above your flesh is only temporary. But do not mistake it for weakness. If I did, I’d hide my scars, which I don’t. When there is a pain so ginormous inside of you, death or physical discomfort often feel like the only possible way to reach relief. And maybe sometimes, it is. But that doesn’t mean you should do it.

On July 20, 2017, I tweeted, “But I’m here and you’re here and tomorrow is always a new day. So please let it come for you. Let tomorrow come.”

The key word there is you. Let it come for you.

— That was the ending this two part piece was careening towards before the story took a turn for the worse. I’d meant to write a piece about loving yourself and owning yourself and suicide not being the answer — only I didn’t finish it because I attempted suicide.

“Keep fighting,” I was told multiple times by multiple people after I swallowed 120 pills, leaving me in serious condition. So now I say it to you. Whatever you are going through, please keep fighting. Your life is worth living.


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