Cut My Life Into Pieces
The next day, when Frank is detoxed and his head is clearer, he's moved to the Psychiatric Ward where a kind-faced therapist comes to talk to him about what he was feeling on the bus that night and how he feels about it now. At first he doesn’t know how to explain how he feels because it's all too heavy and too complicated to describe and he doesn’t have the energy to try. There’s a lot he can't remember about what happened that night too because the memories were drowned in pills and alcohol.
But he does remember the fear. How he was five minutes from death, cold and shaking and watching a black cloud coming to drag him down into the dark where he would be alone and nothing and no one forever and ever and he had never been so terrified. Fading fast, he'd tried desperately to hold on to something - his friends, his heartbeat - but it was all slipping away from him and he couldn’t hold on, he couldn't stop falling, shivering, bleeding, dying!
He didn’t want to go into the dark, he wanted to stay, and he remembers begging Gerard to save him and not let him go. “Please, don’t let me die...!”
Then Gerard’s arms were around him and the darkness swallowed him whole and everything fell away.
When he awoke in the hospital he still thought he was dying and it was almost worse than the bus. There was a plastic tube in his throat that stopped him talking and his hands and face were numb but chills of fire ran up and down his sliced-up arms. He couldn’t hear properly above a constant ringing in his ears and he felt sick and empty and still so scared.
A doctor pulled the tube out of his mouth, making him gag, and tried to explain what was going on but he couldn’t believe he wasn't dead after what he’d done. He didn't feel like he deserved to be alive. Hours passed before he could break free of this state of shock and when he did the stressful weight in his chest and the screams in his head came back and he wanted to burst into tears he felt so terrible and helpless but he couldn't, he just trembled and ached. The intensive care doctors were happy they had saved his life but it wasn't their job to fix his mind too so fter testing his blood and "calming him down" with Valium, they brought in a psychiatrist to assess his state of mind. Following a long series of probing questions, the shrink made a diagnosis: Frank was suffering from chronic depression and severe anxiety, leading to episodic self-harm, panic attacks and attempted suicide. The suggested treatment was a transfer to the Psych Ward where he could be observed and medicated.
Too upset to argue but also a little glad that someone else was going to be making all the decisions for him for a while, Frank buried his face in a pillow and refused to answer anymore questions, choking back tears as an odd wave of loneliness washed over him. Where were his parents and his friends? None of the doctors really understood what he was feeling and the shrink had ignored him completely when he insisted he hadn’t tried to kill himself. He had just wanted the aching and screaming inside his head to stop for a while. He understood that death can seem like an easy answer when you don't want to feel but being so close to death on the bus had made him realise how fucked up it was to think like that. Death is never an answer, it's just a termination, an ending to everything both bad and good which can never be taken back. It's just more pain and more punishment in the end, a loss of life and a gain of absolutely jack shit.
Homesick and in need of a comforting face, Frank begged the doctors to let him see Gerard but the sight of his friend's injured arm made him feel worse and he couldn’t handle seeing anymore of his friends that day.
Now with nothing to do but think and sleep, Frank watches crap TV and snaps rubber bands and chews his nails down to bloody nubs, staring into space as time and doctors sweep past him and the other mentally ill patients. He wants to keep living so he can see an end to all this fucking hurt but he can't imagine how. Fifty stitches stretch and itch under his bandages and remind him of what he's done and he still aches with the need to cry, wishing he was a child again, innocent and unmarked by time and pain.
In the late afternoon, Frank's mom arrives from New Jersey and asks the doctors if she can take her son home. When she appears in his doorway Frank is afraid she's angry with him for nearly throwing his life away but although she's shocked, she shows him nothing but love and tenderness and he's so overwhelmed that he finally starts to cry. And not just a few small or drunken tears this time but huge, cleansing, gut-wrenching, body-shaking sobbing tears about how fucked up and shitty he's felt for so long. He's crying because his mind can't bear to hold onto all that pain any longer and instead of letting it kill him he's finally able to let some of it go. What he's been through over the last few weeks was horrific but he survived and he's still loved despite all the bad things he’s done to himself and that’s more of a relief than the cutting ever gave him.
He cries like this for a long time, shedding months of loneliness and hurt, and his mom sits with him on the bed and wraps him in her arms, stroking his hair and rocking him gently like a child. He cries until he’s almost choking on snot and tears and the tiring weight of screams that he's carried around inside him for so long starts dissolving in the flood. Slowly, very very slowly, he starts to feel like he might be alright again one day even though it's hard because he's finally able to breathe and cry again and this proves he isn't broken! He's only wounded, and wounds can heal. Scars can fade.
Afraid of the future, Frank clings to the present and his mother's arms and cries himself into an exhausted healing sleep.
In the morning Gerard comes for a visit bringing Frank's favorite soda and some Gameboys, and Bob, Ray, Mikey and Brian sneak in later one by one when Frank is ready to see them.
Each of them tries to apologise for not helping Frank as much as they could have but Frank shrugs it off and with nothing to lose now and no secrets left to hide he finally drops every last shred of his happy mask and tries to explain to his friends exactly what he's been going through, talking honestly about his anxiety and stress and fear and isolation. It's one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do but he makes himself do it all the same and to his surprise each of his friends has a different perspective on things and a different story about their own anxieties and fears and methods of self-destruction that altogether make a picture of life experiences very similar to his own.
Gerard quietly reminisces about the ups and downs of his own long-standing problems with depression and addiction and tells Frank that he knows what it's like to be lost in a nightmare and to feel so detached from the world and so hollowed out by your own experiences that you think no one else could ever understand you, but the thing is you'll never know unless you unburden yourself to someone you trust and let them help you. “I've been pulled out of several downward spirals in my time, Frankie,” he says, smiling and sad at the same time, “And you can overcome this thing too, I know you can. You already are."
A week later everyone is back home in New Jersey to hang out with family for a while and reconnect with normal life off the tour and away from The Black Parade. The weather is chilly but bright with yellow sunshine and Frank and Gerard begin a new daily ritual of wandering slowly around a local park together, sipping coffee and talking about nothing in particular.
"So, I've kind of started writing songs again,” Frank admits one day when the two friends are sitting together on a ancient mossy picnic table under the trees, “It's pretty intense stuff. Things that come to me when I'm down, y'know? It helps me to get it all out on paper...” he pauses for a moment and smiles, “It's sort of screamo and sort of punk. I like that it came from me.”
“Dude that's awesome,” Gerard grins, setting his coffee down, “Are you gonna record anything or just write for now?”
“Maybe a short record yeah. It would be some hardcore shit though, not for MCR. Just for me. I've been throwing ideas around in my head at night. D'you think Leathermouth is a good band name?”
“Haha yeah, you kinky fucker.”
Both guys laugh for a minute and when they stop Gerard murmurs, “Dude I haven't heard you laugh like that for a long time.”
“Yeah I almost forgot what it feels like,” Frank sighs, lying down across the old wooden table on his back and looking up at the blue sky and smoky clouds. Gerard waits a moment and then lies down beside him, their legs hanging side by side. “You're not in this alone kiddo,” he says softly, “But if you need some space for a while then we'll give it to you, anything you need we'll give it to you. Like if you ever want to talk or vent about something, or if you need some distraction from destructive urges and feel stuck in your head, I'm always down the street or on the end of the phone, anytime.”
“Thanks man. I appreciate it.”
“Whatever happens...I hope you'll come to one of us or to another friend or your mom or I dunno a phone helpline even if you get so low you want to hurt yourself badly again. I couldn't stand to lose you, Frankie, none of us could. But even if no one on earth was smart enough to care about you, you'd still be too much of an awesome person to throw it all away. Everyone has the right to find some peace of mind in this fucked up life. That includes you."
Frank nods slowly but doesn't say anything, gazing up at the leaves swaying in the trees.
"I’ll try," he finally whispers, "I’ll really try, Gee. I mean sometimes I think maybe I'm strong enough to stop cutting completely but then... I don‘t know. It's a bad way of coping, I know that. I'm not dumb. But I’m just not sure I can stop cold turkey yet, y'know? I need... something."
"I know," Gerard says, "I think you'll get there when you're ready."
"Yeah well, like I said I'll keep on keepin' on. Writing helps a lot, it's like my own personal no-bullshit therapy. I think the Prozac they gave me at the hospital is finally kicking in too.”
“That's cool. Mikey seems to get a lot out of therapy and meds.”
“I just want my life back, Gee. I want to play music again and enjoy it. I want to feel like I'm worth something I guess, like I’m not just a big mess."
“If you’re a mess dude then you're a big perfect beautiful mess who I love hanging out with,” Gerard smiles, poking Frank in the ribs with his elbow.
Frank snorts with laughter but then his face falls again. “I just wish I didn't have to leave the tour. I know I need to, to clear my head and chill out, but I'll miss it.”
“Eh, the tour's cancelled until my arm's better anyway,” Gerard shrugs, taking two cigarettes from a pack in his jacket and lighting them both before handing one to Frank, “And we can reschedule any missed dates for next year. The real fans will understand.”
“I guess they will,” Frank admits, blowing smoke rings into the sky.
“Life gets tougher than we can handle sometimes,” Gerard muses, watching a flock of birds flying far up above them, “But we try and deal with it and sometimes we fall down for a while but eventually we work it through and make up for the time we lost.”
“And we're still young, man, you're practically still a kid! We've got plenty of time.”
Frank nods gratefully and rests his head against Gerard's shoulder, breathing in tobacco and the calming cool breeze and closing his eyes, "I guess we do. Thanks Gee.”
"Anytime. I can be very damn wise when I want to be.” Frank snickers and sits up and Gerard looks at him affectionately as the sun starts to set. “You‘re gonna be okay, Frankie."
“Fingers crossed, right? We'll see. You wanna grab some pizza?”
"I know what it's like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can't. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try and kill the thing on the inside."
- Susannah Kaysen, 'Girl, Interrupted.'
‘You’re not in this alone.’
- My Chemical Romance
---------------------- (Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you like this ending. Let me know what you think if you like. I'll always be writing other stories.... xo) ------------------------