You might have been taught the technique, too. It’s one I learnt at school. Cross hatching is when you draw lines, on top of one another, and in perpendicular directions from each other. It’s done to increase pencil shading and shadow in line drawings, and create an illusion of depth to a piece.
[CONTENT WARNING: SELF-HARM: IF AFFECTED, STOP HERE]
Cross hatching because it is what I was reminded of, on Good Friday. Despite my protestations, my father, rendered homeless from a gap in contracts in the house-moving palaver, invited himself last-minute to stay with me for a while (and that was that). More because I thought it would be something to do that didn’t involve too much effort on my part (wrong again) than anything, we went to the city centre Good Friday service.
Effecting our timely arrival, determining that my father could hear, and that his ‘phone was silenced was painless enough. But the rest was not. The cross was two pieces of roughened pinewood, tied together with rope, standing somewhere around my height. Fine. But it wasn’t, because someone had scratched into the arms of the Cross. Not writing. Just scratches across the wood – at random – on top of one another – burnt red scratches. Blood. My arms look like that. I turned away, refused to look., kept my eyes closed. But the image of that cross flashed inside my mind, again and again. And as the Passion story was read, even with eyes firmly shut, each blow, each strike, each cut, hurt. I wanted to scream.
Alone again on Saturday night, exhausted from the past few days, from keeping self-control, whilst wanting to scream at the Cross, at my father, at the injustice and pain of everything, I was still haunted by the cross-hatching. And I shouldn’t feel this way. Plenty of parents separate, with children much younger than me, my parents are now arguably happier. I deserve the pain that the church is causing me. It is just, not unjust – because all I do is hurt people. I am bitter and angry and selfish. The voices echo:
You’re toxic, and dangerous, and harmful.
Please, be gentle.
In fact, the pain I have been caused is not enough, given the pain I have caused, as a daughter, a congregant, a “friend”. I am sorry – I have tried to say sorry – but my sorry is not heard, and I am not forgiven. I want to hurt myself more. I need to hurt more. So I take the blade, and cross hatch lightly at my skin, down my arms, my hands. Lose blood. Cut again and again. But it is still not enough. I collapse on the floor, before I can do enough. I try to get up, and faint again.
I come round. The Cross flashes in my mind’s eye. My head swimming, I crawl into bed. I want to hurt myself for all the pain I am causing, but I don’t have the strength.