This may be triggering to those who self-injure. Read with caution.

She doesn’t know that I am watching her. If she did she would be different, she would become the girl she thinks I expect. She becomes who those around her expect her to be. She has lost her true self. Right now she is but a child. Her mother gave birth to her nineteen years ago, but right now she is only a young child. Alone and frightened. She has no one to hold her. There is no one here to comfort her. No one is around to make her smile.

She is sitting on the floor, clutching a teddy bear, rocking back and forth in a way you might expect someone to do while locked in a room in a psychiatric hospital. She is not in a hospital though; she is in her own bedroom, in a house. Her mother and siblings are sleeping soundly and peacefully in their beds elsewhere in this house. She has been silently sobbing, her face buried in her stuffed bear.

Slowly the rocking begins to subside. Soon she is sitting completely still. I think she has fallen asleep. I am wrong. She is moving slowly, and without feeling. She raises her head, I can see her eyes now. They are bloodshot and her face is wet and the skin around her eyes is puffy from crying. What strikes me is the lack of life in her eyes. They seem so empty. It is as if there is no emotion at all. If it was not for the wetness of her face and the redness around her dark, dark pupils I would have wondered if this child had ever experienced emotions at all.

She sets the stuffed animal to the side as she stands up. She walks over to the bed and sits down near the head of it, on the edge. She reaches for the television remote control that is sitting on the nightstand. She carefully turns it over and slides the battery cover off. I am baffled as I watch her. It is not the batteries that she is interested in however. Inside that small compartment is a small, shiny, silver razor blade. She plucks it out and replaces the cover on the remote. With the blade hidden in her palm she places the remote back in its place and walks away.

She removes her cute pink pajama pants with the Mickey Mouse print. She pushes them off her waist, and once they have slid down to her ankles she sits down on the floor again. She looks at her bare, white legs. There are many scars here. Small red and pink lines. Some are as long as four inches while others are as small as half an inch. Some are months old, some are only days old. She looks at the blade now, moving it slightly and watching the light reflect on it. Suddenly she grips the blade and quickly runs it across her thigh.

I feel stunned. Did she really just slice her leg open? She couldn’t have. It’s not bleeding. Wait. It is. It took not much more than a second for the crimson to fill the line but it seemed much longer at the time. The bright red blood begins to turn into small tears and slowly they slide across her skin away from the slice in her leg. Crimson tears. She is crying, but not from her eyes. These are tears from deep within the soul.

Crimson tears. She watches, expressionless as these blood red streaks spread. Before long the blood begins to drip onto the carpet. Crimson tears. She slowly makes four more cuts, not as large as the first. These are done with precision. She sits and watches for a couple of minutes.

Eventually the blood flow slows and begins to dry. As she has watched this she has ever so slowly began to come to life. There is a look in her eyes I’ve never quite understood. Triumph, helplessness, ecstasy, fear, relief, sadness, and hope all at the same time.

She gets up and wipes up the crimson tears with some Kleenex and what she is unable to clean from the carpet she covers with some papers. She gathers some Band-Aids, and the used Kleenex and silently slinks across the hall into the bathroom.

I cannot see her now but I know what she is doing. She carefully cleans her legs, and hands. She places Band-Aids over the cuts after drying them with more tissue. She then puts her cute pajama bottoms back on, uses the toilet, and flushes the Kleenex.

She returns to her bedroom with a wet paper towel and some type of cleaning liquid. She quickly scrubs the now dry stain on the carpet and disposes of any evidence.

She still has no idea she is being watched. She pulls out a spiral notebook and begins to write. I’ve seen these notebooks. She fills them with nonsense words, lists of things to do, daily accomplishments, what she ate, where she went, who she saw, how she feels, angsty poetry, doodles, hopes and dreams, fears…These spiral notebooks hold her life. Some have pages stained with crimson tears. These tears make her mind and body come together as they should be.

This young girl thinks she is a freak. She thinks there is no one else who knows about “crimson tears” but she is wrong. As many as one in every one hundred people have used self-injury as a way of coping. It is true that not all of them use crimson tears, but a large percentage do. I wish I could help her. I wish I could let her know she’s not alone. I wish I could make it easier for her somehow. I can’t. I’m only a clock on the wall. I have hands, but no arms to hug her with. I have a face, but no mouth to tell her I love her with. She is alone, crimson tears her only comfort.

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