Once upon a time, a long time ago, I broke my arm….. on purpose.
I don’t remember what it was that made me decide that breaking my wrist was the thing to do, but I remember how hard it was to break that bone and how much determination it took. I went from smoking it into a door frame to hitting it with a dented can of soup to a rubber mallet… What was I thinking????
I recall vaguely the feeling of triumph when it finally broke… how I felt somehow vindicated for something that someone didn’t notice about me. it was so long ago, I look back now and think how much alike my daughter and I are…. She’s a cutter… well, she was. She has moved past this, and all it took really, was to have her little baby step-sister watching her every move and noticing every time she was hurt.
I wonder what makes children do such terrible things to themselves….. not all children, so what makes the children who do, do it? I remember how it was growing up, being the second youngest, never quite as important as the others for one reason or another… My sister had a cast on her leg once for 9 months, right around the time I decided to break my wrist. Writing this I can feel the weight of the cast, heavy and yet soothing… to have proof that I was hurting…. That I was hurt…. I wanted the attention my sister got… I wanted to be special somehow, to be different, to be a favorite… and I didn’t care how it happened, just so long as it did. So long as someone was paying attention to me, it was fine by me.
I sat in my room that day…. My wrist was sore… sore from a legitimate accident, and my mother wouldn’t do anything… there was always something or someone more important than paying attention to me…. so I sat there, and started twisting my wrist… bending it back and forth, hitting it against the door frame…. I have GREAT bones… that wrist was NOT going down easily…. Considering how tiny my wrists are, that was uncalled for…. I hit it against the frame and though it started to welt, to swell, it wasn’t broken… I kept moving my fingers to see if I could, to see if they would be stiff and stuck like my friend’s was when she broke her toes… NOTHING!! I went downstairs, past the big bathroom, through the den to the kitchen…. Dented cans in my house were a staple…. It was ALL dented cans so no one would even notice anything amiss if one was dented. I don’t recall where my siblings were at the time but I went back upstairs and sat at the end of my bed…. I placed my hand on the foot board and took a deep breath, raised the can and…..
I couldn’t do it! I tried over and over… I don’t like pain you see… I wanted the cast, I wanted the attention, but I was afraid of being hurt…. It must have taken 10 or 11 tries before I finally hit my arm without flinching or pulling away. Had someone else hit me like that perhaps it would have triggered my fight or flight reflex but it was me hitting myself…. It hurt sooooo much! Wow! But I could still see that my fingers were fine, that I could move my hand… so though it hurt, I had to keep going! I hit and hit and hit my wrist with the can, denting it further and further out of shape, but still nothing!
My wrist was sore by then, uncomfortable, a little swollen but STILL not broken! How did people accidentally break bones? Were my bones fat too? How the hell do you break a bone on purpose?? If nothing else, when I was a kid, if I saw a way to get attention, I took it! I took it and I ran with it… I’m from a family of at one time, six children…I was the second youngest…. I HAD to get this attention…. And so, though it was sore, though it was starting to swell and my head was now aching, I went downstairs again. Through the den, through the kitchen into the living room to find something else to break it with….
Finally I found the rubber mallet…. For those of you out there contemplating breaking your wrist with a mallet, for future, and to save you the trouble…. It doesn’t work well! I hit my wrist with that thing for a good 20 minutes… I did notice however, that by the 5th or 6th time, my hitting was getting gentler and gentler.
It broke… finally…..
I wore that cast to death! I wore it with pride! I played video games in it till it wore away….. You see, my wrist, though it broke… though I got the cast… was BARELY broken. It was a hairline fracture people! Hardly worth the effort don’t you think???
The things kids do for attention…..