I may not be proud of what I did, but I am proud of who I am.
My forearm still bears the mark–you can see it if you look closely enough–the little half-moon, a result of the one time I couldn’t stop. Things were so much simpler then: dig in, hold on, and focus on the pain. Focus on the pain not because you are a masochist, but because this pain–this pain–is at least definable; this pain is tangible, real, and quantifiable. I refused to pick up anything sharper, lest I turn into one of those tragic emo kids splayed out in the tub with one arm crooked over the edge of the tub–or maybe the truth was that I was just too much of a coward–so this pain was, for now, all I had.
I ran my finger over my arm in lazy figure eights, writing my name so many times over in those angry scarlet letters.
Now I write my names many times over so I will not forget: I put ink to skin so that I will not forget who I am, what I am, and, most importantly, what I am worth. I write so that I will never hear someone say, “I knew you when.”
Part of the reason that this matters so much is that I, for whatever reason, have managed to get out of that space–that I have miraculously survived. My whole drive in life is to teach youth to brave the depths of themselves and to learn to love the dark as well as the light. Because if you can love the parts of yourself that you most hate–and know that love isn’t the same as acceptance–well, that’s just magic. It’s part of the reason why I study Horror. It’s a hard lesson to learn, I think, that things aren’t just always going to magically get better and that you often have a lot of work in front of you, but that you have to be able to see (or, better, believe in) something better. It’s always this journey from stasis, to anger and discontentment, to wonder, beauty and love.
But ultimately, you fight for kids you’ve failed, for those you’ve yet to reach, and for those worth saving (hint: it’s all of them). There are times when I feel overwhelmed because fighting is all you can do and yet it’s never enough–there’s always more to do and ways that you could have been better. But I’ve learned to take a break and get some perspective; I’ve realized that the world is hopefully a little bit better because I gave a damn and although you might not inspire every kid, that doesn’t detract from the ones that you do manage to move. Success can’t be measured in gains versus losses–I have to think about it in terms of the difference between me doing something and nothing at all.