I will never forget the moment the thought entered my head, “Your parents don’t love you.” I was a second grader, and I had just picked up my lunch from the cafeteria and sat down to eat with the rest of my class when I saw the younger kids at the table across from me, one girl in particular with wavy hair. I watched as she pulled out her sandwich. Attached to it was a pink piece of paper, and whatever was on that paper made her smile, but at the end of her meal, she crumpled it up like so much garbage and went about her merry, hand-holding way with her happy-go-lucky blonde friend. That was my first glimpse of the uniquely historic Zella Storm and her sidekick, Celeste.
As luck would have it, or divine intervention, I was right behind them in the line to the trash, and before that piece of paper had time to soak up someone’s discarded spaghetti sauce, I grabbed it. When I finally got to a place by myself, I opened up the pink paper, and saw the words, “I love you, sweet girl!” And it was signed, “Mommy.” I remember my first thought being I’d never been so lucky, or loved for that matter, to receive such a gift. Then I thought, “She doesn’t know how lucky she is.” I remember taking the time to carefully fold that precious note and put it in my pocket. How could that girl just throw it away? I reasoned that she was just a baby and didn’t understand what it said. But I did, and I held on to it, and hid it away, so that when things were crazy and loud and volatile in my house, I would pretend that I were her and that was my note. And, that’s really when my escapism began.
I can’t say that I’m super pumped about telling my story. It’s not a pretty one, and honestly, since I’m still living, obviously it’s not over. But it is what it is, and after a lot pressure from Zella, I have agreed to write it all down. I’ve only agreed because I’m convinced that I’m not alone. That the pain I’ve carried and the heartache I’ve gone through must have some greater purpose than just to strengthen me. You see, the truth is, I never wanted this to be my story. I never wanted to be this girl. I wanted to be that girl or another girl, which ironically is what made me who I was.
I grew up with money, popularity, and looks, the type of girl that most guys want to be with and most girls want to be, but underneath all of that was a different Oona just waiting for the chance to be seen, or rather “found out.” You see, even those of us who seem to have it all together have issues despite how we appear, and I was no different. It has taken me quite awhile to figure out how and when to write these words, but here goes…
Hi, my name is Oona Stuckey. I’m a cutter, and this is my story.
Celeste left you with a moment of rest…a night on the beach. If only I had been where she was, but that’s trying to escape again. The best thing to do is to explain where I was, and as you can probably guess, it wasn’t relaxed and coming to grips with my pain, trusting God with whatever came. My pain had me spiraling downward.
The night we got home from the beach was difficult for me. To say that I was frustrated with my mother would have been a gross understatement. I was livid. I was embarrassed. I was hurting. She took no care to mask her infidelities, and I can’t remember a morning when I didn’t find her in the kitchen fixing up some miracle hangover concoction so that she could do it all over again.
Zella and Celeste had shadowed me the whole time, not allowing a single moment to myself. Zella said that it was best, but I just found it irritating. She watched me, looked at my arms periodically for evidence when she didn’t think I would notice, and tried to make sure that I wasn’t hurting myself. I pretended like it was a non-issue…a habit that I was finally breaking. And, I was able to keep up the masquerade for a week. Exactly a week, and no more.
The night we got home mom immediately lit into dad. Something about him not calling or texting while she was gone. To bring up the obvious, that the phone works both ways, would have been wasted speech, so as their argument heated up I found myself where I had longed to be – on my bathroom floor. I smirked as I took off my shorts and raised my underwear at the thigh. I had learned to hide my addiction better. After two hospital stays with the labels “attempted suicide” I figured it best to find another less conspicuous, less dangerous location. The juicy side of my thigh provided just the amount of anonymity that I needed.
I picked up the blade and held it to my skin. I almost regretted the thought as I took in the healed lines where I had last cut, but it was past time, and I was in need of a fix…a slice…a release. And in mere moments I had it. I relaxed as the endorphins surged and my fix was met. Finally, a physical representation of my emotions, I looked at the cut and watched it bleed, and immediately I hated myself for giving in. Too bad I hadn’t remembered that feeling before I’d decided to slice. Too quickly my high was replaced with self -loathing and guilt. Here you are again, Oona, doing what you always do. You idiot. When will you ever learn? There was that voice again. I had come to fear that voice; it seemed to know me so well.
As if sensing I might have needed some encouragement or support, Zella called me, just ten minutes too late. She and Celeste were heading to the movies and wanted to know if I wanted to come. I didn’t. I just wanted to listen to some music and go to sleep. She understood, said that she was praying for me and hung up. I held the phone in my hand and wondered what exactly she was praying? Was she praying that I wouldn’t cut? Because that was a bust. Was she praying that I would rest? I didn’t know what she meant, and she would make comments like that all the time. It unnerved me. If she was going to pray, why not tell me what she was praying about? Seemed that was just common courtesy of the prayerful. What did I know?
I did fall asleep that night…finally, after listening to some Bach and Mozart and drifting along to the melodies ebb and flow. I’m seriously a sucker for classical music. It soothes my mind and gives me a place to imagine, and if you spent an evening in my home, you would understand exactly how freeing that could be.
I woke up to chaos. Of course, after eighteen years of waking up to chaos, you’d think I would have been numb to it, but no; after all this time, it still sucks. Mom and dad were fighting, again. I heard the blender in between bites of accusation and bitter anger on mom’s part as dad slammed down what I presumed to be his briefcase, trying to reason with her yet again. It was exhausting and most the time, if I had to pick a side, I’d side with dad. At least he tried. Mom’s voice just got louder.
“I’ve had it, Jeffrey! Really! I’m done!”
Like I hadn’t heard that before.
“Just listen, Dotty! I’m trying to tell you -”
She interrupted, “And I’m trying to tell you that I don’t care! I’ve had it! You don’t respect me; you could care less that I just got back from a whole week of chaperoning kids and taking them on outings! I’m tired, Jeff, and I’m not going!”
I thought I would have to run down the stairs and call her on her outrageous lie! Seriously? A whole week of chaperoning kids!? The youngest of which was sixteen! Taking us out on outings!? Is that what she called accompanying us down to the beach while she drank and sunned the day away while we did our best to ignore her and enjoy ourselves? Who did she think she was kidding?! I moaned and turned over just as I heard the front door slam. Can’t say that I blamed him, I’d have slammed it, too. Only, I knew then it was my turn. I could have timed the number of seconds that passed in between the door slamming and her stomping up the steps.
I groaned, “Here we go again.”
“Oona! Get your butt up out of that bed! You’re not on vacation and you’re not in high school anymore. Get up and act like it!”
Yep. I figured. One week after graduation and already I was expected to be an adult. Nice.
She threw open my bedroom door and gasped, “Just look at your room!”
“Yeah.” What did she care? It’s not like she was going to clean it.
“Get up now and clean it!” She went to my bathroom, and clucked her tongue.
“What is this, Oona?!” She held up some bloody tissue that I had forgotten to flush. “Really? Are you still cutting yourself? That’s so stupid! Why don’t you just kill yourself and get it over with?”
I’m not sure what would possess any mother to say that to her child, but then again, my mom wasn’t just any mother. She was Dotty (You dare not call me Dorothy!) Stuckey. No respecter of persons and careless about anyone but herself.
I answered her, “I don’t know. I really should.”
She snapped at me, “Well, then you’re stupider than you look!”
“Yeah. Thanks for that. It’s really a wonder why I would want to leave this life with such a great mother who cares about me so much.”
She groaned and left the room, but not without being sure to yell at me from behind a closed door, “You heard me! Get up!”
I fell back against my pillows and thought, “God if you’re really there, and you care for me at all, give me a different life!” As expected my life didn’t dissolve with a magical puff of smoke, in fact, my mom made sure I wasn’t escaping by screaming, again.
“If you don’t get up in the next ten minutes, I’m gonna make you get up!”
I wondered how she thought she might do that. Call my dad? Call the cops? Oh yeah, I was a regular delinquent, sleeping in until seven thirty! Oh well, I was up; no sense in lying around the house where I still had to listen to her voice. A shower and a trip to Starbucks was definitely a better alternative.