thank you to my ghosts for giving me hope

the paramedic asks me to show him my wounds,
to show him where I carved the words
“fuck up”
onto the soft skin of my stomach.
he asks how many pills I swallowed,
how long ago,
how come I would do this to myself,
don’t I know things get better?


I apologize a million times to a man
I’ll never see again.
he tells me to calm down,
slow my breathing,
as if it’s a matter of simple willpower,
as if it’s easier done than said.


it’s the longest 30 minute drive I’ve ever been on.
at the hospital it’s the longest night I’ve ever been through.
there is a man down the hall, yelling over and over again to let him go.
I talk to doctors, nurses, social workers.
at 6am they load me into another ambulance and haul me to


my new home with locked doors and chain link fences,
meals brought to us in styrofoam boxes,
shoelaces confiscated,
kids with scars laced up their arms
and smiles on their faces


a member of the staff tells me she wonders my I am there
because I always seem so happy.
I do not tell her I am afraid to be sad,
afraid of hurting anyone else.
I do not tell her I feel wrong.
I do not tell her it seems these kids have it a hundred times worse than I do.
I do not tell her I don’t think I belong.


I make friends with a boy with wild eyes
and another with a jarring laugh.
I make the mistake of believing these friendships will last.


after my seven days of “recovery,”
I am released back into the jungle of the real world
with all the sharp edges and dangerous choices,
with all the freedom and none of the safety.


one friend asks me how I could do this to her,
as if I choked down 24 chalky killers
with the sole intent of hurting her;
as if the pain she felt was comparable
was worse
than the pain that wracked my soul;
as if she had anything to do with it at all.


someone will always take the stories you tell
and fabricate a new main character,
make your pain their own,
take everything you do,
every mistake you make
as a personal attack.


please, god, please don’t listen to them.
you are not alone.
you are not to blame.
you are not the villain in your own book.


you are a champion.
you are a class-a warrior.
you fought the dragon and you made it out alive.


that is something.
that is more than I ever hoped for,
more than I ever believed in.


you lived!


the ghosts of my scars are only visible to me.

they are a reminder of the hope

I desperately need.

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