This Far, No Further

There are two large scars near the crook of my elbow on my left arm. My fourteen-year-old step-son asked me straight up where I got them, and I told him straight up: They’re self-inflicted. From a very difficult time in my life. (He reeled back; he does not yet understand my views on the value of honesty or how desperately I want to live in a more honest world.)

I wrote extensively about this once upon a time, trying to process the difficulties of that year (2012, for the curious). I’ve thought about them consistently since, given that they serve as their own reminder. I’ve applied ointments and patches trying to diminish them, but I haven’t been consistent enough to see a real impact. But lately, I’ve thought more and more about making them a landmark on my body. Embracing that this was a place I was, something I grew from.

Tattooing your own self-inflicted injuries is not entirely uncommon, and it would serve this purpose. The question then becomes what tattoo would appropriately mark those painful memories. I’ve thought of a few things. A dragonfly, maybe. Or the roots of a tree. But in the end, I think I would opt for a Star Trek quote.

Right. A Star Trek quote. Because it says well something that the year taught me (perhaps too well): This far, no further. The idea of turning these physical lines into the metaphorical line that I learned — the place the line had to be drawn, the place where I had to reach out for help, the place where I had to overcome what weighed me down no matter the costs — is liberating in its own strange way.

This idea — this far, no further — has come into my head not as a feeling or thought but as a certainty on a few occasions in my life. 2012 was the first time, in Scotland, when I felt how deeply scarred I was by my insecurities. I knew things had to change, had to. So I changed them, despite how painful that was. Then, when I was ready to quite amphetamines — after several failed attempts — the thought came again. I was done. I was just done. I quit despite the costs, which at the time — given how I coped, given my limited knowledge — was largely about gaining weight. And then, just recently, I’ve felt the same about the place my body’s at, the place I’ve let it reside. I’m done. Just done. This far, no further.

I worry about saying that. I worry that this time it’s different and the feeling of conviction will be fleeting. I worry that I will fail despite this and my conviction will be meaningless. Hell, I even worry that I’ll jinx it just by talking about it here. But the feeling is still there, not a fire to drive me but a solid core of it. Not a desire but a need. This far, no further.

I wonder how I’ll see this in a year, in two years, in five, in twenty. I wonder how I’ll feel about this time, this struggle. And I know that not everything is within my control, that there will be a great deal to deal with. But I also know I am capable of making a change, even a radical change, to my life. I’m capable of holding the line when I have to. And I’m capable of deciding now what vantage point I will be looking from when I think back to this year and the landmarks it represents.