A few weeks ago I read an amazing book by Ellen Hopkins, a long time favorite author, called Impulse. You can read the review I wrote for that book here. (Also… take a peek at the comment section. Yeah. THE AUTHOR COMMENTED WHAT IS MY LIFE!?)

This book is about three teenagers who end up in a medical rehabilitation center after each trying to end their lives. All three characters struck me deep in my heart. They were so hurt and they all felt so alone. I loved each of them but today I was reminded of Vanessa.

In the book Vanessa tries to slit her wrists. Luckily her brother finds her and she is rushed to the hospital just in time. She’s been a cutter for some time and it is hard for her to shake that impulse to feel the blade ease her skin apart even in the rehab center. She even goes to such extremes as to hide a paper clip in her room to prick herself with if she needs. It made me so sad that she felt so alone and that there was no other option than to let her troubles bleed through her skin.

One of my favorite parts of working in the cafe at Barnes and Noble is the opportunity to develop relationships with some of the regular customers. They are so nice and they remember me from when I was 16 and working there. They get the same drinks every week, they are so sweet and polite, and they also tip pretty well usually.

There has been one couple that has been every Sunday for the past few months. The boy is a huge teddy bear with a kind scruffy face and big open arms and an even bigger smile. His girlfriend is gorgeous. She looks like a gothic snow white. Her face is a cameo pin framed by her onyx hair and apple red lips. Her skin is perfect like porcelain and her style is flawless. She always rocks a stunning black sun dress, a different dress each week – each one better than the last. She wears shoes Lady Gaga would be jealous of- high black boots with studded heels and killer height. She has the deathly hallows tattoo on her arm and wears Bellatrix Lestrange’s animal skull pendant around her neck. She’s amazing. I wish she was my friend. She also has amazing taste in books. She’s always reading a superb novel each Sunday, different each week as well.

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They are an odd pair, the two of them. But you can see how much love constantly passes between them. He’s her protector and she keeps his life vibrant and forever changing. I love them. Guys. I want to date this couple. They seem so happy every time they come in. They chat with us and always leave a clean table.

Then a few weeks ago, Snow White wasn’t wearing her jacket. The white skin across her arms was covered in red exclamation points and angry red raised mountains. They cascaded across her forearms and up to the top of her cap sleeves. I was amazed she would even let them show since there were so many. I was shocked someone as kind has her was hiding a secret like this. Many of them had faded a bit but the cuts were deep; these scars would last her a lifetime.

I hid that I was looking at her arms and made them their drinks and took them out to the two of them as they sat holding hands and reading. She looked up at me and smiled a closed mouth, but no less warm and open smile. “Thank you so much,” she whispered. I smiled back and left them to their Sunday date at the bookstore.

It broke my heart that a girl that sweet and lovely was ever in a place in her life that she felt so alone and so in pain. It’s clear from the scars that she’s lived with pain for quite some time and is just now getting better. I am so sad that she ever felt the need to call on a blade to be her only sense of relief and comfort. She’s such a beautiful woman, just like Vanessa in the book. No one deserves to feel that amount of pain alone. No one deserves to feel alone period. 

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Even through how sad I felt for her past, I smiled for her future. The fact that she isn’t hiding her arms means she is a fighter. She is healing. She knows she is loved and she loves deeply. You can see it in her eyes. She has seen Hell and she has returned from that visit a stronger person. She’s a warrior and a saint. It made me love her big scruffy boyfriend even more. He cares so much for her. I can’t help but imagine him holding her when the nights get long and hard and the metal starts humming in her heart again. He will cradle her and absorb her tears and she will do the same for him. Love is so beautiful and so cathardic. I’m so glad they have each other.

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It still breaks my heart to know that not all of the people who struggle like Snow White are able to heal the way she has. I hate that there are still people who feel like they have to face this life alone with nothing but a razor at their side. I am so sorry if anyone reading this feels this way. There are people in your life who love you and even when life seems unbearably hard, the sun will rise in the morning. The long nights will pass, even if it takes years. The bully’s will leave and you will be left standing strong.

Please reach out if you ever feel alone. There are people who will listen, I promise you. Never feel so alone that you feel like you can’t come back from it. Fight that impulse to punish yourself and instead use your arms to embrace each other, not to harm yourself.

Stay lovely, everyone. You are loved. You are all loved. 

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  • Anonymous

    So, so beautiful, Emma. I see your funny, sarcastic side a lot. I had no idea you had a heart so full of compassion. It was beautifully written from a deep and caring place. –Aunt Becky 🙂

  • My name is Lydia

    i just realized how potent scars are… when one feels so alone as to hurt herself – that depression forever haunts. i've been there. it's like a constant reminder… an annoying one.


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