The Color Red

Trigger Warning: This poem is about self harm. While it is not overly graphic, it may be tough to read if it is a current struggle.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Scientifically, the color red is meant to be a sexy color.

It is a color that represents love and passion.

It is meant to catch the attention of those who lay eyes on it

It is meant to be remembered.

But the thing is, when I see red, I picture red lines,

I picture red lines on my wrists and on my shoulders and on my collar bone.

I see red in the places that can be covered up by sleeves or scarves on a cold day.

I see red in the corner of my room.

I see red staining my bed sheets and my clothes.

To me, the color red is symbolic of a mistake.  

It is a symbol of a regret, yet also a release.

It was seen when I felt most unloved and worthless.

It was a series of bad decisions, betrayals, and fear.

The color red is one with which I am all too familiar.

It was my partner in crime, it was a friend in dark times, it was the dad I needed to dry my tears.

The color red was misunderstood.

It brought shame.

It brought confusion.

It wasn’t a cry for attention.

It wasn’t a suicide note.

It was my silent cry to God at 3AM

Some people’s addictions are alcohol, drugs, or sex,

But my addiction was the fiery sensation on my arm that carried with it

The hidden guilt of being that girl.

Hydrogen Peroxide would clean my arm,

But it wouldn’t clean up the stain of hurt that was rooted inside of me

The color red was a faithful visitor following the brush of razors across my arm

Water in the shower flowed in red streams and with it flowed the hope that a better day was ahead of me.

It poured down the drain and took my self esteem with it.

Signing loyalty agreements with the color red was a consistent event.

Private meetings in the bathroom were regularly scheduled

And if the hope of breaking an appointment were to occur, then my mind would pay the price.

Three years may have past, but intrusive thoughts of reuniting with a color that never failed to show up is always with me.

Scars have turned into reminders of a time that once was,

But serve as a warning to not repeat similar patterns.

Forgiveness is an everyday occurrence that’s triggered by a glance down at my arm or at the sight of a razor blade.

It is a process in which I have found a way to set myself free of the baggage that I might force myself to carry and cling on to the new found freedom of a different life without the color red.


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