Suicide Salve

I sat on my bedroom floor. It was dark, but for candles flickering: dancing shadows, praying demons.

My special knife sat before me, its blade painted red. I’d made it that way. I coloured it with my special brand of human paint. My arms–hidden always from the family outside, laughing at whatever stupid program was now on TV–bore scabs and scars and fresh lines that oozed red atop clear plasma. Bundles of toilet paper surrounded me. I used it to keep the blood off the carpet. I couldn’t leave a sign. On this occasion, I did it more out of habit, really, as it was no longer a necessity. After tonight I wouldn’t exist, so why did it matter if I painted the carpet too?

Nobody wondered what I was doing in the pitch gloom of my room, the sorrow of existence. Recent months had rendered me a shadow. Before me: two boxes of painkillers. They would be my mechanism, my suicide salve. They would send me into that horror sleep, the one through which I’d reach the other side and be granted all the answers. Whatever was next, I was ready to embrace it. I was done with this world. I was done with this place.

I would wake up in heaven, or hell, or a paradise Earth (I hoped). Or I would never wake at all. I didn’t really believe that that would be the case though, so why not push on to the next world? I’d gotten everything I was going to from this one.

I opened the boxes of painkillers and popped every last pill out of its blister-seal. But I wasn’t ready yet. My eyes slid, shifting their focus. I needed more. I needed the rush to help me do this.

The knife was in my hand before I could stop it. Cold steel bit into my flesh. Shivers of pain . . . and pleasure. It’d used the damn thing so much that it had somewhat blunted. These days, it wasn’t enough to slide it across my flesh, but I had to kind of shake and wiggle it side to side as I went. This made it more painful, but that was okay with me.

I checked the wound, parted it hard with my fingers, looking to see if I’d gone deep enough. It was important not just to break the skin, but also the weird white layer of stuff beneath it. It was a testament to my accomplishment. I was about to run the blade back across the fresh wound as I was accustomed, but something bumped outside and I jumped in nervous fright. It was now or never.

I scooped up a handful of pills, threw them into my dry mouth, raised a glass of water and swallowed hard. My eyes watered and I gagged, but I managed another handful. A couple more and I’d gotten most of them. A few rolled beneath my bedside table, but that was okay. You were only supposed to take two of these every two to four hours. Surely, I’d taken enough.

I laid there listening to my breathing. I rested my head back against the bed and then made a few new cuts. I lay back again wondering how many thoughts I had left. But more than anything I wondered, how had it come to this?

Now I laugh at that naïve little boy with his puny concerns. It was beyond his wildest imaginings to dream up the creature he would inevitably become.

A Brief Review of my Parents

I don’t know why it was me. To this day, it’s still a point of contemplation. I endured no more or less of the indoctrination every single living relative I have was subjected to. So why is it that I alone woke up? Why me?

I don’t regret it. How could I? Of course, I lost my entire family and everyone who ever mattered to me. That’s the way it goes. It’s kind of like living your entire life in a sewer and then someone shows you that there’s a better way up top. You try telling your family to join you in the sunlight, but they refuse to believe you and keep hiding in the dark. You have no choice but to leave without them. They don’t trust you anymore. They won’t speak to you. They call you a liar and wallow in the perceived safety of their filth. So, you go alone. That’s how shunning works. Still … I regret nothing.

My father may as well have been a born-in, as he was only two years old when his parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s the only life he’s ever known, so I’m not sure how accountable he should be held for staying stuck. No more or less than of the born-ins. Mind you, I too, was born-in … so.

Father was an authoritative disciplinarian. That’s the only role I remember him playing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that he was never in good humour. I’m just saying that whenever he was, it was tenaciously balanced.

‘While you live under my roof, you follow my rules,’ was one of his go-to expressions.

I’m not sure what he hoped to accomplish with such rigidity. It doesn’t exactly open up the discourse. He never learned the motivation behind any “misbehaviour” his children had engaged in. The only purpose it served was to encourage me to bite my tongue and bide my time. I would wait. The day would come when I would be able to support myself. Then I wouldn’t be “under his roof”, and I would do as I pleased. That doesn’t seem like a sensible approach to parenting. Surely, you don’t simply wish to postpone undesirable behaviour, but rather, to change it. Of course, my parents never expected me to reach adulthood in this world. By the time I was an adult, we would be living on a paradise Earth.

Unlike Father, my mother was a fountain of warmth and love. I loved her dreadfully. “Loved” … I must apologise to my readers. When you’ve been shunned as long as I have, people who mean the world to you become subjects of past tense. I love my mother, I suppose. It just seems a strange thing to say; foreign. I don’t know her anymore.

An Introduction to Me

I’m using a fake name [No I’m not, I now go by my real name, Cael]. It’s the name I’ve used in secret times of my life. It’s the name I was almost called by my parents. I’m not so naïve as to think that people won’t start to figure out who I am eventually [They did, much more quickly than I anticipated]. When it happens, I’ll deal with it. But this story needs to be told [And so I’m still telling it, as my true self, Cael].

I’m an ex-Jehovah’s Witness. What does that mean? It means that my entire family and social network, developed from birth until I was about nineteen, are shunning me. I’ve not heard my mother’s voice in over ten years.

I’m alone. Well … when you’ve got no one to turn to and shit goes wrong, you’re left in a situation where you’ve got to make some pretty dusty choices. Nothing gets given to you. You’ve got to fight for your place in the world. That, or lay down and die. I’ve never been one for dying.

So here I am. Here, I will write my darkest truth; words written, never spoken.

How did I fall from grace? God, it sounds pretentious, written out like that. It’s not something that happens by accident. Still, the question needs to be asked. How did I, Calum [Cael], go from being a polished Jehovah’s Witness to … to whatever the hell I am now?

I suppose we should start at the beginning. Come with me, back to the life of a Jehovah’s Witness boy. Let’s learn how a child of innocence, became a monster.

This is my story.