It was a hard time in high school.

Not the hardest, but we didn't have

the wisdom to know that then.

We were the rejects, the people who

lived on the outskirts and rejected in turn.

The birth of emo,

the death of expression.

We abused ourselves as harshly as we judged.

I was a cutter, my arms (and as I got more cunning

my legs) covered in the scars that meant I was

paying something back; bringing something to

life

by bringing something worthless closer to death.

I couldn't tell you why it seems a good idea,

I couldn't explain the feeling of feeling a blade

pierce and tear at muscle. It's

surreal, but more:

hyper-real. It makes everything

else fade.

And God how I craved it.

I came within millimeters of ending my life,

and I thought nothing of it.

Hollow doesn't even begin.

Others drank, and injected, and fucked,

and did what they needed to feel like they were

functioning.

And I held the knife and watched through wary eyes

at the world passing by, as a dog perpetually kicked

forever looks for the next boot to fall.

High school passed in sex and hormones, and

I was 22, at university, still holding the same

knife against my veins.

Watching as the others became adults,

watching as the phase passed for them.

I loved them for it, I

loved their strength and resilience while

cursing my weakness.

I made promises, oaths, swore black and blue

that I would stop.

That I would find other options.

But it wasn't a phase for me. It didn't go away

like some banished demon, it clung to my shoulder and

flowed in my veins. Every day

I fought to free myself, and there were

times when I felt I won.

And silently I raged against the people

who were happy, and who declaimed that

"It's just a phase", and "It gets better", because

the truth is that it NEVER gets better,

it just becomes easier to deny.

And now I'm 24, and happy; I've a life,

and a love,

and a laundry list of character defects

that is actually getting whiter as time goes by.

But it's an ever-present shadow, and I

don't think it will ever leave me alone.

Sometimes I fight it so hard I forget how to fight anything else.

And people I love suffer for it.

But this is not a war I'm prepared to lose.

I'm not interested in pity, or a sympathetic ear.

Not anymore.

I want a witness, I want a victory,

I want to look at my life and see a spiral

that leads to a peace, rather than the

pieces of me

that I've abandoned.

Because it's not death I fear; it never has been.

It's been the thought of leaving this world unchanged;

of being nothing more than a shadow.

To my friends, I love you for what you survived,

and in every one of you I see a light that burns

the brighter because of it.

And to those who lost their wars...

I remember you as you were,

smiling in the brief sunlight.

I remember.