[Author’s Note: Again, this was written quite a while ago, and all is well now. It just seems kind of hypocritical to bury the thoughts and feelings that come from depression as if they were shameful, because that makes it worse for those suffering today].
“The first cut is the deepest, Baby I know —The first cut is the deepest…”-Cat Stevens
The first time the blade moves across white flesh, leaving in its wake a trail of carmine dots that swell into urgent rivers, it is exhilarating. Life never seems so present as when blade meets flesh and there is a gasp, an “oh” of realization that the moment is pulsing with danger, drama, and the laser focus that comes with pain. There will be bandages, offers of comfort, a suspension of everything daily and extraneous. Inside the thick wad of gauze is a muffled, white kind of comfort, a numbness and a respite from the noise of deadlines, small talk, laundry. The clocks are stopped, casseroles delivered, offers of aid and comfort, conversation and Kleenex come daily and seem sincere.
Maybe there is a flaw in the stitches, or some irregularity of clotting. Whatever it is, the mutinous mishap, the wound won’t heal. There is no smooth orderly progression from Frankenstein stitches to vivid red line fading, in time to smooth skin with the faintest streak of darkness. It throbs, sometimes, mostly at night, and the temptation to pick at it is too great. We lie on the floor, then, tracing absently the raised scar where the wound is opened again and again. It is old hat, old news, prompting nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shrug. There is no parade of sympathy for the Grand Reopening of the wound. We are offered a still-wrapped Band Aid, briskly, by someone with places to go. The radio in the car plays “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and we retreat in guilty darkness to pick, consider the re-opened wound, and yearn for that exhilarating yawp of life and presence that came with the first cut.
We try, clumsy and fumbling, to do it all over again and make it right. We drink too much, eat too much, sleep too much, shop too much, looking for that crest of excitement, the comfort of numbness, and the hope of motion in The Right Direction. Whatever that might be. If we do it correctly, we might end up not with a puffy wound but with fresh, healed skin. Thus healed, we can rejoin the human race in all of its rapid, bright, sharp glory, moving inexorably forward at blinding speed as we sit watching.
There is a way, I think, to heal the open wound. There is a way to still that wild, anxious call to pick, to draw blood, and to bring back the vivid excitement of that first cut. It may be as simple as sitting with it, considering every bright, lost corpuscle without judgment or desire. It is possible, I think, to apply a balm of solitude and peace, closing the wound with the written word, a benediction of self-love and a recognition that the world is filled with comfort as solid and permanent as the blue of the sky and the bark of an oak. It is in this salve, not the recreation of the injury that the wound will find its healing.
I am lying on the floor, contemplating the ugly gash that resembles nothing so much as a hungry, open mouth. I am thinking about the stolid trees outside the house. I am very, very still.