I do. I get a zit, and obsessively pick at it until it hurts, until it bleeds, until it’s an unsightly stain on my face. Then it scabs over and I pick at it more. I tear the scab off so it bleeds again. I hurt myself over and over again in the same place. I force the blood out of me. I know exactly why I do it, and maybe you do too, but I’m going to say here anyhow.
When I was a teenager, I got pimples, much like most people do. This bothered my father. when I visited him, he would point them out to me. He would buy me clearasil, he would read about how washing your face in chammomile tea would clear it up and buy me tea, he would try all sorts of products on me just to get rid of my zits. They bothered him more than they ever really bothered me.
Then I started picking at them. Just a little bit at first. Just to see if I could get that white core thing out of the ones that were obviously ready to pop. Just to find out if I could get the ooze out of those ones that were huge and painful, just under the skin but without an obvious pore to escape through. Just to see what I could do.
My father would lecture me about that. He would get mad at me every time I picked at my face that way. He would buy more products, he would pull my hand away from my face to stop me from picking.
So I did it more.
I would find tiny little pores on my face that might possibly turn into zits at some point in the near or distant future, and I would crush them and squeeze them until something came out, be it that clear fluid or blood. He would get mad at me for picking. I would let the scabs heal over, then tear them off to bleed again. He would buy me more products. I would take some of the pore cleansing stuff and put it right over the raw skin, and it hurt like hell and probably aggravated the open wounds more than helped them. I knew that. I did it anyway. I did it because it would hurt more.
I did it because he hated it. I had control over that. It was subtle, it was a tiny thing, but it bothered him that my face wasn’t clean and beautiful, because, as he used to tell me, he liked his girls to look pretty. He especially wanted me to look pretty. He bought me pretty clothes. He was concerned for my pretty face. He hated to see it picked at, bleeding, scabbed over.
I did it to spite him, although I didn’t quite realize that at the time.
Now I do it when I’m stressed. I do it because I am controlling the discomfort. I know what the pain will be. I can see the results, taste the blood. Tearing the scab off my face is almost satisfying, in a strange kind of way. I know why I do it. I do it because I hate my father. I hated him then, too, but I didn’t know what I hated him for. After all, he bought me things… he cared… he gave me money when I visited and took me out to restaurants and gave me nice clothing. Why should I hate him for that?
And yet I do hate him for that. I hate him for creating a tendency for me to believe that any time anyone ever wants to give me anything, it must be because they want something from me. With him, it was to keep the secret, and I did a fine job of that. Now it taints how I see everything. Now I think people only give me things for tainted reasons. I don’t ask for things from people because I’m afraid of what I’ll think of them when they actually give me what I ask for.
I would ask for help, but then I might have to hate you for things you’ve never done, nor intended to do. Because that’s what I’ve been taught to understand. Well-trained from a young age. Thanks dad.
A bitter taste that is… metallic, like the taste of blood on my fingers, like the taste that floods my mouth just before I throw up.