[CW: explicit, graphic discussion of self harm (and one oblique reference to sado-masochistic sex)]

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When I was a kid, and I mean a kid, I used to slam my body into furniture. I would get ferociously upset about something and just go to town on myself. I’d stand next to a dresser and spin around so my arms would helicopter into its corner. I would kick walls or slam my tiny fists into any number of objects. I can’t necessarily remember all of these incidents, and I can’t remember precisely what I was feeling that prompted them each time. …


I’m 25 and I wake up to the sound of my mother coughing. It’s the long, pitiful cough, the kind that’s composed of several weak attempts in quick intervals, none with quite enough power behind them. It’s the kind of cough where you can’t help but think if the person you’re hearing would try just a little harder they’d surely bring something up. …


I wake up to find a ladybug in my room. The robins are singing outside, returning for the spring. Does my grandmother, long dead, know how much I’m hurting?

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When I was young, not even a year old, my parents moved together into my mother’s childhood home, a ranch style house on ten acres of land in southern New Jersey. The house was built under the direction of my grandfather, a stern, hardworking Irishman. There was a barn for horses and pigs, and enough open space to grow modest crops in the fall and summer. …

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