My son used to burn himself
press the lit end of a cigarette
against his bare flesh

an attempt to penetrate
the numbness –
this I know

because I did it too
walking barefoot in the snow
cutting till blood oozed

there is a pain
familiar to adolescents
that bears no explanation

a hellish limbo –
suspended between innocence
and adult expectations

unable to articulate
the wrongs endured
or separate shame

from responsibility,
an inexplicable grief
and longing…

…longing to understand
at least for a moment
the pain one dare not feel.

(Image my own)


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

32 thoughts on “Numb”

  1. Hoy precisamente en las noticias hablaban del daño que se infringen los adolescentes. Se hablaba…, de la cantidad de suicidios o intentos de suicidio. Algo ocurre en la sociedad que nos impide arreglar este problema. ¿ Será culpa de nosotros, que, somos padres o es culpable el sistema que nos venden a través del control que tienen las imágenes que nos muestran en las noticias o tantas sonrisas falsas? Quizás, venden falsos cielos que, no todos alcanzan.


  2. This is something that I can not understand because I have not experienced it. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about those who have. I am so sorry for your pain, VJ. Very heart felt words.


  3. Well, this sure hit hard! But your poem perfectly captured the anguish I still am unable to write adequately about (re a granddaughter cutting mercilessly plus deciding she’s better off as a male). Thank you for this, VJ – your understanding of this phenomenon is a balm to we readers and surely, those in your family too.

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      1. I did not know that, but I do know that one day none of this will matter. In fact, none of it matters to anyone but ourselves.


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