promised myself I would never do again. Unfortunately, self-harm and I have had a long and tumultuous relationship. One that I escape into, but then it disappears leaving me a sobbing wet mess on the floor.
I know that self-harm is an uncomfortable topic to read about, and believe me, I am uncomfortable writing about it. It's a deeply personal and private experience that holds an enormous amount of pain in all its secrecy. I have had a few experiences in my life when I have opened up to someone about my history with cutting and they looked at me and pulling back their sleeves to show me their scars, revealed to me their story. Each one said to me that they've never told anyone about it until now. Our mutual tendencies to run sharp objects along our skin connects us in a way that is both beautiful and powerful. There is a special comfort in opening up to someone who personally understands exactly what you're going through. I've been able to call these women when I've had an urgency to cut and they listen and understand and hold my hand until I feel strong again. Despite all of my uncomfortableness, it is because of these magical connections that I have decided to publicly share one of the most private parts of myself.
That night, I pulled myself off of the kitchen floor and with red wine keeping me company and cigarette smoke in my lungs, I started to write.
"Tuesday, June 16, 2014: I cut tonight. I cut and then I sobbed. I cried until there were no tears left. I feel so alone. I am alone. I haven't cut in so many months I've lost track. But I needed to tonight. I binged on pizza and donuts. And then I cut. My whole wrist is red. I feel so alone. The boy I like, and who I have kissed, made it clear he didn't want a girlfriend, ditched me. And so I cut because I feel alone in this world. I am no ones number one person. I am alone in this world. I have always been alone. It has just been harder to deal with. I wish someone liked me enough to make me their person in this world. I have never felt so alone. I am on my own. And that scares me. I cannot pretend anymore. I am tired of pretending I am happy. I am lonely. I am sad. And those feelings terrify me. I feel I am nothing. And I hide it all."
Cutting that night wasn't about the boy who didn't like me back. He could have been anyone. It was about wanting to escape all of the painful things I felt inside me, wanting to quiet all of the vicious thoughts in my head. I wanted to separate myself from all of the things that were too painful to deal with. I didn't want to feel them anymore and I cut so that I could focus on the stinging feeling in my wrist instead. I cut my wrist and it hurt, that I could understand; why I felt so alone, and sad and scared, I couldn't. A few years later I was having a conversation with this beautifully wise woman and she explained to me that cutting is all about controlling the pain. When you cut, you know where the pain is coming from. You know how it will feel, and when it will stop. When we are in emotional pain, we often don't have any control over the outside circumstances that cause our pain, and we don't know how deeply it will hurt, or when the pain will end. We can eat our Ben and Jerry's, talk to our girlfriends and cry all of our tears, but at the end of the day we will still be lying in bed cuddling our broken hearts. Iv'e thought a lot about why I cut. I want to understand how I can do such a vicious thing to myself. To try to put into words something that only comes from feelings. In addition to what I stated above, here are the other reasons I came up with:
My relationship with cutting started my Senior year of college. On that day, I don't know why I tried it. Probably subconsciously for many of the reasons I spoke of above, although at that time I wouldn't have been able to articulate that. All I know is I was alone in my apartment watching 'The Santa Claus 2' and the thought popped into my mind. And that thought, something I'd never considered before, became so strong and so loud and so intriguing, that it was impossible to ignore. So I grabbed some nail scissors and I went into the bathroom and I willingly hurt myself. After that, I cut several times a week for almost a year. In the midst of my cutting extravaganza, I went back home to Rhode Island for a visit and started opening up to the people in my life about what I was doing. I have this innate penchant for honesty that often gets me into trouble but sometimes can be a wonderful gift. Tear filled eyes and sullen pleas to stop were the response to my honesty and those images flashing in my mind kind of took the glamour out of it. And so, my moments of self-harm became fewer and farther between. For over a year, I resisted the urge over and over again, until I finally got tired of trying to be good to myself and I said fuck it. I was feeling really dark and I wanted to destroy that feeling. I took the razor blades out of my razor and streaked my wrist and thigh with red lines. And then I sobbed. That was four months ago.
I always covered up my cuts with bracelets and hair ties. Having self-induced cuts on your body is not typically considered socially acceptable. So I hid them. But I would always have moments when I would let my bracelets slip down my wrist and expose my freshly created scars. There was a part of me who wanted people to notice them. I wanted people to know that I was hurting. Notice that I'm in pain. My cheerful persona is a mask and I'm not okay. I subtly begged them to see through my plastic smile. But no one ever said anything. Whenever I tell a boy I'm dating that I have a history of cutting, they always kiss my scars and tell me to never do that to myself again. I think they like playing the hero.
There are a lot of misconceptions about people who engage in cutting. One is the relationship between self-harm and suicide. Personally, I do not believe there is a direct connection between the two, however, there is a connection between cutting and sadness. Never when I cut was I trying to kill myself, I was just trying to kill the pain I felt. I didn't need a suicide watch or a hospital visit, I just needed someone to listen to me and love me and therapy to find healthy solutions for dealing with the uncomfortableness inside me.
Because poetry helps me to try and understand the messy parts of my world, on June 25, 2012 I sat down and wrote a poem on cutting:
what it’s like to hate yourself
5:30AM: drunk & alone (as i often am)
my self-destructive thoughts to keep me company.
the glistening light of the razor-sharp kitchen knife taunts me,
asking for permission to numb the splintered weight of sadness.
i will run it along my bulging pink thigh, again & again
pressing harder with each methodically drawn line
(a fantasy of caressing my thigh with razor-sharp strokes)
i call myself ugly names: worthless, fat, unworthy of love.
they told me not to do it again
as they cried i watched emotionless
puddles of tears in the creases of their pleading eyes
i stared back detached, unaffected eyes that were dead.
i ignore my wrist, already a scarlet mural of self-hatred
and find a place on my body where i can hide the abuse --
i know they will still see the scratches, & i will lie.
i am desperate to release the restless monster living inside me.
i begin cutting into the fat of my upper thigh. he will never like me
pressing harder - all i am to him is a vehicle for sex.
Deeper - i will never be a heart with capillaries pulsing more then lust
so i give him pleasure in exchange for a feeling of worthlessness.
sawing the fat of my leg as if it were meat i was planning to ingest
a release. i cut myself to feel better, to stifle the uninvited noise
of my thoughts. there is something wrong with me.
i am lost
The law of attraction centers around the idea of putting out into the world that which you wish to receive. If that's true, how can I expect anyone to treat me with love if I continue to treat myself with so much hate? How can I ask for beautiful things from the world if my behavior is ugly and self-destructive? Cutting doesn't solve anything. It doesn't change anything. All the things I felt before I cut are still inside me, I just got to forget about them for a minute. Self-harm is a part of my story but not a part that needs to continue into the future chapters. I feel as though my love affair with cutting has come to an end. I don't need it anymore. All of those ugly things I felt about myself that I used cutting to escape from, I don't feel anymore. And when I have moments of darkness, which I still do, I've learned a million healthy ways to work through the pain. Chocolate cake and laughter do wonders. My wrist is a mural of white and red scars. And I love them. They remind me of where I've been and all of the places I want to go.
If you are struggling with self-harm or want more information you can visit:
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