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EXCERPT: The Darkness  
04:01pm 01/05/2007
 
 
comes_the_light
Comes the Darkness, Comes the Light book cover


from the new book
COMES THE DARKNESS, COMES THE LIGHT:
A Memoir of Cutting, Healing, and Hope

by Vanessa Vega
published by AMACOM Books

The darkness started coming for me on Monday. Much like the flu, it hit the base of my spine first. The slight but undeniable tingling that just won't go away. I have a chill to my bones that I cannot seem to shake, even though I take two to three hot baths a day to try and alleviate it. My patience is nil. My sense of humor, gone. My desire to go anywhere or do anything has left me. I throw myself into a flurry of activity: if I run hard and fast enough, maybe I can beat it this time. Sometimes that works. But not this time.



By Wednesday, the darkness is in my dreams. I am hurt. I am alone. I am dead. By Thursday I start to shake. I know what is going to happen and I feel powerless to fight it. I read a book. Flip through a magazine. Flip channels on the television. Anything to take my mind off what I know is to come. The darkness waits for me and I can't seem to escape. By Friday morning I have shut down. I am so far into myself that if I were to try to withdraw anymore, I would implode.

At work, I can't seem to match the words coming out of my mouth with the voice in my head. People smile at me, look confused, and then walk away.

I am so tired. I don't want to do this. I desperately try to think of errands I have to do before I go home. There aren't any. Once I get home, I check the mail. Maybe there will be something inside that needs my immediate and undivided attention. Junk mail. As I walk in the door, I pray for a phone message, any message, any note or urgent plea for my help. Anything to save me from the darkness -- to save me from myself. Usually there is at least one message. One voice saying, "Please call me back." But not today. Today, there is only the darkness, and it waits for me.

I take the dog out, feed him, slowly take off my clothes and get ready. The darkness has come and it's time.

Like all rituals, mine is exhaustive and demanding. Nothing can interfere with it or preempt it, or else it doesn't count. I don't want to have to do this again. I don't want to be interrupted, and so I walk into the bathroom and lock the door. Naked, I stand and take a long look at myself in the mirror. I look carefully at my eyes. I'm not there, but the darkness is. I look at my breasts. My thighs. My stomach. My face. And then I see my arms. They hang there, trembling. Waiting.

I hear a voice. Clear. Commanding. Unmistakable. It is my own voice, insecure and relentless.

You know you have to do this.

No, I don't.

Yes, you do. If you were better than this, you wouldn't be here.

I don't need to do this anymore.

Oh yes, you do. No one wants to hear your problems. No one cares that you're out of control. I mean, come on. If they did, wouldn't they have stopped this? It's Friday. Wouldn't they have noticed you haven't been yourself and asked you what was wrong? Maybe they would have asked you out for a drink after work. At the very least, they could have called. Don't make this harder than it is. You're a burden and people don't have time for this. Stop screwing around and just do it. I'm stronger than you are. I've been waiting for you all week. It's time.

The tears haven't started yet, but they will. I reach under the sink and carefully lay out my tools: cotton balls, alcohol, and scissors. I see a razor blade sitting on the counter, but I can't trust myself with it yet. Maybe I'm not that brave. Maybe the darkness won't see it.

I run my wrists and arms under the faucet. I use soap to make sure everything is clean. I have to. It's the rules. I reach for a towel and stop. Breathe. Close my eyes. Try, one last time, to fight the darkness. Now, the tears come. I open my eyes and look into the mirror.

All of my insecurities come out through a venomous inner dialogue. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you for being weak. I hate you for being too pathetic to be anything but what you are. I hate you for what you're about to do. I hate you for what you've already done.

All of my failures come back in a rush. My eyes grow dark. You're a shitty wife. A marginal teacher, at best. If you were as great as you think you are, don't you think you'd have received *another* teaching award last month? I mean, come on! And a model? Yeah, when's the last time anyone ever called you for a job? They haven't because they know you're fat and pathetic. So, now you think you can be a writer. If that were true, you'd be doing it, not just standing here thinking about it. And what do you really have to say, anyway? You think the world cares about your past? Your pain? Your ideas? Stop kidding yourself. If you were such a great communicator, or had a "great message," your book would be out by now.

Face it. Nobody cares. You're a freak! You push away the people who love you the most. You can't communicate. You have nothing to offer. Give up. Give in. Stop jerking around and do this! Do what you know the best. Hurt. But you know you're going to screw this up, too. If you'd do it right, you'd cut out all of the parts of yourself that are unacceptable. But you can't, can you? You can't even do this right. Go on. Look at yourself. See how pathetic you really are. Naked. Crying. Ashamed. Is this what you were made for?

Alchohol. Swab. Wipe.

Face it. You're a mistake. If God really wanted you to be doing something else, don't you think he'd find a way to stop this? He isn't. There's no one at the door. The phone isn't ringing. The dog isn't barking. It's just you. And the darkness.

I look carefully at the scissor blades. I make a mental note to buy new ones. Here again, par for the course, I've dropped the ball. I should have bought new scissors already. But now, now all I have are the old ones. Used. Defiled. Covered with old blood and shame.

It's time.

I look at my wrist and see the scars that I've put there over the last twenty years. I cry. I am living a lie. When I made my first cuts, I swore to myself they would be the last. That if I could just get over the hump, the need for scissors and razor blades and knives would be over. One day, I told myself, I would be in a better place.

Yeah, right.

I have to be careful where and how I cut. If I screw this up, I will end up in the ER, and then I'll be committed. Maybe I should be. Maybe I'm crazy and don't even know it.

I take the scissors in my left hand and hold my right arm stiff. The darkness surrounds me and I let it carry me away.

Copyright (C) 2007 by Vanessa Vega. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file, as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.





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(no subject)
 lo8afish
 
04:28pm 08/05/2007 (UTC)
 
 
lo8afish
I want to buy your book... but my comment from a later entry still stands... actually it's basically like you've said here in this excerpt, "No one wants to hear your problems. No one cares that you're out of control... Face it. Nobody cares. You're a freak! You push away the people who love you the most. You can't communicate. You have nothing to offer. Give up." and like you, "When I made my first cuts, I swore to myself they would be the last. That if I could just get over the hump, the need for scissors and razor blades and knives would be over. One day, I told myself, I would be in a better place.

Yeah, right." I too, have to watch how I cut... and where, because, my mom's a nurse and I have a bleeding disorder... ironic huh? I cut and I have a bleeding disorder... yeah, I suck. I love this excerpt though and I will buy your book however, my viewpoint stands, I have NOTHING else besides my razors, etc. and NO ONE understands... no one wants to. I've been to inpatient, they made me WORSE! They treat you like you're in a prison, not like you need help, they look at you like you're pathetic and crazy and they make you believe that... I AM PATHETIC and possibly insane... nothing anyone's done to "help" has worked and that's because my mom only did it to cover her own ass 'cause she could lose her nursing license... it's all very complicated...
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
09:57pm 08/05/2007 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
The fact that you can relate to many of the things I wrote in my book should make you realize that you aren't alone! There are lots of people who think and do some of the same things we do. I too thought for a long time that I might be crazy. But that wasn't the case. Although it may seem that there is nothing out there but your razors, there are other outlets for you to explore. You have so much to offer the world. Accept that fact! You are worth more than some of your thoughts would have you believe! You are not pathetic and others can understand you, but only if you find the right persons. Keep looking! Know that you deserve better and have a right to fight for it! Be encouraged by the reality that you are not alone and have something important to offer the world.
 
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(no subject)
 lo8afish
 
02:26am 09/05/2007 (UTC)
 
 
lo8afish
I KNOW I have something important to offer to the world... it's just.... hard. Like when I get upset, it's always there and it feels SO GOOD, SO RIGHT... I don't know........
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
10:02pm 09/05/2007 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
It sounds silly, but I have a wall with quotes and motivational messages on it in the room where I would self-injure. In those darkest moments, I would look up and read those words and that was an important reality check for me. Those words didn't stop me from cutting, but they did remind me that my emotions were temporary. I can't tell you how many times I have told myself that the "sun will rise tomorrow". If there is a way to look beyond the moment and the impulse, then we have a moment to catch our breath and think about what's ahead...even if it is only 5 or 10 minutes in the future. Feelings like anger and frustration are very powerful and require more control than sometimes we can muster. But if there is a way to stop and reflect on what has made us feel those feelings, sometimes we can take a step back and evaluate whether or not those feelings are worth the punishment we inflict upon ourselves.
 
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(no subject)
 lo8afish
 
11:50pm 09/05/2007 (UTC)
 
 
lo8afish
IDK.
 
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(no subject)
 bubblemakergirl
 
06:52am 01/07/2007 (UTC)
 
 
bubblemakergirl
I struggle with an eating disorder and can relate a lot to what what the inner dialouge of the charater in your book. Thank you for being so strong & writing this--it helps to know I'm not the only one. :)
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
08:26pm 01/07/2007 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
You cannot imagine how validating comments like yours are for me. I think I have feared for many years that I was crazy and just didn't know it. I am so relieved to find out that there are others who have inner dialogues too!
 
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(no subject)
 lilmizmombassa
 
03:08am 06/07/2007 (UTC)
 
 
Caitlin
Hi there. I've been a cutter now for nearly five years. It feels funny to actually write that down, since it's something I talk about so rarely. To anyone.

But seeing things like this excerpt and feeling the feeling within your words makes it all real. And, somehow, when I read your eloquent words, I can remember that we're never alone. And, the next time I'm called to trial for my sins, it makes it that much easier.

I'd love to buy your book....do you know if it's available in etext at all. (Being blind makes paperbacks by the fire quite a difficult endeavor.)

Thanks for writing, thanks for believing in the power that the written word holds. It's so refreshing to remember...
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
05:54pm 13/07/2007 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
So sorry for the late reply. I've been trying to see if my book was available in e-format and I don't think it is.
I'm so glad that you've found kinship in my words. There are so many of us in the world, we just never realized it. It's an honor to think that my book may be opening a door of communication between us. :)
 
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(no subject)
 madid
 
08:22am 10/07/2008 (UTC)
 
 
MissMadiD
I am walking down to the book store 1st thing in the morning to buy it!
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
08:22pm 14/07/2008 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
I hope you find my story one you can relate to and be encouraged by. I'd love to hear back from you after you've read some of it!
 
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(no subject)
 (Anonymous)
 
12:22am 15/07/2008 (UTC)
 
 
Man, I can't believe how much I can relate to this. That voice you wrote down that said, "You can't even do this right" is the thing I have been carrying around with me for who knows how long. At the apex of cutting I still only had the guts to either do something that caused just pain (like something blunt/serrated) or something of little consequence that drew blood (i.e. razor). [I hope that description doesn't bother anyone] But neither seemed to go deep enough to really get at my angst and so I have felt like a failure. I've been watching myself combat it and try to smother it over and over again with sleep, entertainment, and food. I don't tell my mother about it because I know I would come home the next day and find people with white coats waiting or at the very least, all the sharp things would be completely gone. It would be an understandable but stigmatizing response, and ultimately, not what I need. The fact that I've gone unsuccessfully from one thing to another for comfort has just gone to show me that it is as much a heart issue as it is a chemical(addiction)issue, and it's reassuring to have read the same principle in your book.
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
08:52pm 16/07/2008 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
It's amazing how much of my SI was mental, either in the form of self-loathing dialogue, or from my internalizing perceived disappointment or rejection. I don't know if I am more sensitive than more people to things that are said to me or what, but I continue to struggle with this. As time passes, I am able to see more clearly how sometimes I would "set myself up" and perpetuate the self-injury through the things I told myself and believed to be true. I hope by sharing these thoughts, others realize that these voices are powerful, but sometimes misguided. What I thought was true at times, wasn't. I saw myself in a negative light and so any negative comment or feeling that came my way, I believed "proved" my thinking. It created a viscious cycle. But once that cycle was broken, I was forced to look at myself in a more objective way and see the lies for what they were.
 
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(no subject)
 (Anonymous)
 
12:18am 18/07/2008 (UTC)
 
 
How true. Because of past rejection, I tend to think objectively about how I look, which makes comparison with unrealistic beauty standards pretty irrelevant. I'm kind of proud to be satisfied with my appearance. If only it was as simple as applying that same mentality to how I feel towards what I do--my performance. When I was starting college, I failed out of several classes due to attendance, because the reaction I had after missing an assignment or doing something wrong was to just stop going. Fear and perfectionism ruin more than just your thinking--I lost my much needed scholarships.
I completely agree with you, self-loathing is deeply rooted in the comfortable and familiar (why else would we run to it), and is relentless to sustain itself through the thoughtless, misconstrued, or just generally negative comments of others. I’ve gotten to where I’m more comfortable hearing what’s wrong with me because it’s “just being realistic”. But if one’s perception is colored with constant criticism, one will start to believe that there’s nothing right with them.
I got a lot out of your book and enjoy checking out your blog. If you ever have any speaking engagements in or near Dallas, Texas, I’d love to come hear. You’ve got wisdom & grace and God’s using you to help a lot of people!
 
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(no subject)
 comes_the_light
 
02:22pm 18/07/2008 (UTC)
 
 
comes_the_light
Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. It helps me in my healing too to know that others can relate to what I think and how I feel. I am speaking all of the time, although lately they've all been out of state. I know I will have some engagements in the Metroplex this fall and will try to post those as the dates near. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and post comments! :)
 
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more later but....
 4heart_angels
 
08:38pm 14/12/2009 (UTC)
 
 
Hi, I used to cut. it's a hard habit to break. i just read a passage from your book on amazon and will get it. i could esp. relate to your inner dialog on page 3. I am in the process of writing a book about my own struggles and healing journey. It's also written in the first person which I am finding to be a difficult place to write from and remain detached and not triggered. would like to talk to you more about your publishing process. thanks for you courage to show others where you have been and how you climbed out. I think it's important that we share it can be done. it gives hope. YOU ARE Hope. sometimes the "help" doesn't help, but hope from those who have been there can get others thru to the other side. or at least reinstill the desire to try. thanks.
 
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