I'm a different person now.

That's what I keep telling myself anyway. I'm living a different life. School is great. I have never met teachers like this. My music and drama ensembles are doing some truly fascinating things. Church continues to challenge me in my walk with God. My social life is satisfying. My job gives me minimal money but not is not overly taxing and only interferes with my schedule a little bit. An almost boy and a few crushes, but nothing worth wasting my time on and I've been single my whole life so I'm certainly used to it and not really bothered by it. A few health issues, but apparently nothing that can kill me (ha). I have people I can really count on, for the good things and the bad. My friends are the most amazing people I have ever met and I cannot imagine life without them. I don't always have to hold things in anymore. I am genuinely happy living my life.

See? Different person now.

Some days, I believe it. I've believed it for a long time now.

But somehow, slowly, so slowly I haven't noticed, she's been sneaking her way back in.

The suspicion, the guilt, the tuck of an emotion inside the seal of my heart, the forced smile, the lie "I'm great!", the doubts, the restlessness, the overfull schedule, the commitments, the sacrifices, the disease.

By the time I begin to piece everything together, it's much too late. Just like all the times before.

I'm not sleeping anymore. Barely any in the last two weeks, and only sporadically before that. I'm losing weight without having to try; even the thought of food brushing against my lips bringing stomach acid to my throat. The darkness encroaching with every thought and wayward glance. The doubts, oh the doubts I cannot even begin to explain. The emptiness; rushing to fill the void with anything I can manage to grasp inside my fingertips. The fear filling my veins, the panic pinching every beat of my heart shorter. And the worst of all: the never-ending loneliness.

I've tried to reach out. To my ever-faithful friends, my compassionate pastor, and in a roundabout way, even my old counselor that I haven't met with in two years.

Everything's merely managed to backfire.

My camper has a breakdown that I only end up making worse. An unparalleled panic attack lands me in the ER. I miss work. I get behind in my classes. The police send a search helicopter after me and I scare way too many people without meaning to at all. My great-grandmother dies and I have to go back to that horrid place I occasionally must call home. I fail three mid-terms. The almost boy shuts me out, or I shut him out, the situation is unclear. I let my friends down; run the risk of losing at least one – if not all – of them. More breakdowns than I can count full of tears and whiny squeaky voice tones that should not exist anywhere in my vicinity. I'm giving them too much. There will always just be too much of me for anyone to handle (anyone but her).

My body fails me with its unconquerable sickness. My mind fails me with its inability to comprehend or understand what's happening. My soul fails me with its uncanny knack of dying by degrees – and too many degrees at that.

Like usual, I fail myself.

She reels me back in, carefully, wanting as much of me caught as possible before she unleashes her desires.

It's been too long, she says. That's why the world is crumbling in around you. You've forgotten how to keep it together, the price you must pay. You've forgotten what it's like.

Which is true. You have. Oh you still have the essence, splotches of memories, the scars, but everything else… You've forgotten the blade: the exact pitch of its call, the shimmer of its edge, the glory of its delicate power. You've forgotten the pain: the tearing, the weeping, the burning that erases everything else. You've forgotten the blood: the purest red, under-hues of blue, the cleansing ability. You've forgotten the healing: the sealing, the itching, the surprising strength of new skin. You've forgotten the calm, the quiet of the world that can't reach inside the bubble. You've forgotten the safety of it all. You've forgotten what it means to never be alone.

And you realize that you should never have given it up. That if people understood, they would never have asked you too. That they would realize that it isn't bad at all. Everyone has some kind of coping system. As long as you don't go too deep, as long as you're careful, what are a few scars? Everyone has those. There's nothing evil about it. Nothing sinister. What it asks for is uncomplicated, easy to manage and oh so effortless.

You realize that if there was no damn stigma attached, you would never have been ashamed of it to begin with. You never would've hidden it. You never would have given into the guilt. You would've just loved it, for all the miraculous things it does for you, for all the parts of you that it saves.

And you know that people will say that you're just romanticizing it, that you're quite far down the road of relapsing. But what they don't understand is that they're the ones turning it into a monster. That if they just let both of you be and stop sticking their nose where it doesn't belong, everything would be so much better. All the problems would be solved, the horrors turned away. With it is the only way you know how to breathe, and you've been suffocating for much too long.

All you have to do is listen to her. See what she's trying to give you. All you have to do is come back to the only one that will never be disappointed in you, never fail you, the only one that will never leave you.

It's not like it ever really left anyway, right? Not like you ever really got away. The unexplainable injuries, the "slip-ups" (minor or not), the thoughts, the always accessible stained-glass shard that has not managed to leave your grasp these last few weeks and that has remained in your presence these last two years.

The power of the highs and lows – the damn extremes – sits in her hands. She's always controlled that power, but when you're good, when you come to her, she always helps you. She always gives you exactly what you need to control the chaos' reign. The poison is in your blood after all, the damage of your heart, and all you have to do is bleed it out at the right times.

Away goes the hurt, away goes the anger, away goes the fear, away goes the stress, away goes the panic, away goes the confrontation, away goes the problem, away goes the crisis, away goes the disaster.

In comes the comfort, in comes the agreement, in comes the understanding, in comes the quiet, in comes the air, in comes the happiness, in comes the relief, in comes the healing, in comes the peace.

She is the only friend you need, the only friend you can truly rely on, the only one who listens and emphasizes and comprehends ALL of you. She is the only individual who knows how to fix you, the only one who has the tools to take back control of your life. She is the only person who will not be afraid of you, whom you cannot hurt. She is only being that will stay with you forever. She and the blade.

All of this you instinctively know and trust. The truth stares you in the face, the ever blissful possibilities.

You reach for the blade in her hands and she gives it to you without any kind of resistance. You bring it to your lips and kiss it reverently, nearly cry in the sudden knowledge of how much you have missed it, how deeply you have suffered without it. She wraps an arm around you and begins to walk with you. "I love you." She says into your ear.

And now it's just you, she, and the blade, the way it was always meant to be.

The perfect welcome back home.