What follows is basically my RAB posting written right after the
cutting and then a postscript witten about a month later.
I finally received a cutting yesterday evening by the talented Keith Alexander. I say finally, even though I only found my design last week, I had been thinking of getting a cutting for awhile.
So, what did I get? I have two Chinese characters cut into my skin, I guess you would call it the lower abdomen area. It's the area that is below my belly but above my pubic hairline. Each character is about a little bit bigger then my thumbnail. It represents the feng-huang, which loosely translates into English as the Phoenix. The first character represents the male phoenix, the second the female phoenix.
I think most people know the myth and symbolism of the Phoenix. The Chinese also have their own ideas about what the Phoenix represents. Needless to say, I felt that this design/symbol worked very well for me on many levels and that is why I chose it.
I will also say that the whole experience went very well. I am very glad to have done this. Keith is just as talented with a scalpel as he is with a needle.
What I am most interested now in, is WHY did I find being cut a
positive experience? Why not just get the symbols tattooed if I wanted a permanent symbol? There are
people hospitalized for doing what I did - what makes me different?
Well, I can tell you that with every stroke of the scalpel I felt caring and warmth. There was no anger, no sadness, no regret. Whatever nervous energy I had before the cutting was replaced with strength and positive energy during the cutting. It was done out of love for myself and resulted in even more love for myself. But why did I feel that way? I think that part of it is because I knew that I was trusting someone to mark my body this way.
Not to say that anyone who does it on their own is a self-mutilator, I'm just speaking for me, I think that relying on someone to do this for me is an important step. This shows a lot of personal growth for me, a sign that I'm healing from my past.
And part of the importance of getting a cutting was overcoming a barrier that I set in place, being afraid of
pain. I've already felt getting tattooed and I wanted to "feel" the cutting. BTW, It really didn't hurt like I expected. Actually I think the cut I got on my knee playing basketball with the kids this week hurt more then the cutting, but that really is comparing apples to oranges, which actually might be the point I'm trying to make. This experience was more then just opening the skin and the releasing of blood in order to create a scar.
I'm not scared of the sight of blood, but it's not like I get off on it either. But I will tell you that seeing the design, colored with my blood, was amazing to see. I can't describe the feeling. Afterwards, I thought that I should have taken a picture. But no camera could replicate what I saw and I feel that I will always have that 'picture' in my head. And besides I was much better off living in the moment, then being preoccupied with taking a picture.
Another aspect about cutting is that your body will decide on the outcome. It can disappear in a few years or it can stay with me if and when I reach old age. It's all up to my body, despite how well I follow the aftercare. I also like the idea of the raised texture of the design, where I can feel the design . For some reason, it seems to be a more powerful symbol to me, then a tattoo.
It feels like more of a commitment to me, having this cutting. Every time I see and touch this design I will be reminded of this important and postive turning point in my life during this past year. This is something very personal to me. I will not go around showing my coworkers as I would, had it been a tattoo. The silence of my
experience to those people will not help to break that preconception that all cutting is a form of self hatred. But I think I need to have something that's for me, meaning that I didn't get this done to educate people, to rebel against society, I got it for me. It's very special to me. You might ask, what makes sharing about
this in this group any different from telling others. I'm not quite sure, but there is something different. If any RABbits would like to see it, that would be fine with me. I'm just not going to volunteer it to
anyone. Only those who'd really like to see it.
The other thing about the cutting is that it's got me thinking deeper about myself. For me to do something like a cutting with the mindset I had, it required a lot of soul searching, that I might not have been motivated to do otherwise. I still don't feel that I answered my question, as a matter of fact I think I left myself with more questions now :-) But I guess that is what living life is all about.
I'd like to thank Bert for helping me with the technical information aspect of my design. He was able to find out much more information for me about the Phoenix, the Chinese myth, and about the characters and that
information made me feel more confident in my choice and decision . And I'd like to thank Keith not only for performing the cutting with such skill and ability, but for being a person that I can consider a good friend and
that I can trust for helping me along this journey. And also for seeming to know just how much I can handle at any given moment, helping me to trust myself and for providing a way for me to do it. And of course to all you fellow RABbits, who have shared their experiences and have made this a comfortable place for me to share my thoughts and experiences as well as for providing direct and indirect encouragement to me as I open up new opportunities for myself.
Since this post, I've had more time to reflect on my experience and have additional insights. I've since added to the design. It feels more complete now. Next to the male phoenix character, Keith cut a sun. And next to the female phoenix character, Keith cut a crescent moon. Both phoenix characters will eventually need to be recut, as I didn't scar as well as I hoped.
I know that there will be many people that will never be able to understand how a perfectly sane and rational person like myself can allow another perfectly sane and rational person to cut them, no matter how beautiful the design or how positive the intention or how much care was involved. And considering the location, it is in a private area, so it will only be visable to those whom I trust to see it and share some kind of connection or intimacy with. And I know that whoever is intimate with me will not be able to overlook or miss my cutting. That means they have to accept it, and in accepting it, I know they are accepting all of the 'real' me. I realize that my cutting will eliminate a lot of people from consideration. This is one reason why the design needed to be cut as opposed to tattooed. As a matter of fact, I feel that this cutting has closed a very long chapter in my love life.
Another thing is that I changed my mind about keeping the cuttings a secret. I've become more comfortable speaking to those people that I'm comfortable speaking about my genital piercings with. It all depends on
the context and situation. This change of heart came about when I needed a topic for a 5 minute persuasive speech I had to give for school. I felt most passionate about persuading my classmates that just because
I'm into bodyart it doesn't make me a freak or a sick person. In the speech, I did refer to my cuttings. I felt some sort of responsibility to speak out. I'm not ashamed of my cuttings at all, and although they
are private, I felt I needed to give that speech and I'm proud that I did. And it did help to change some minds.
I feel that I have 'earned' these scars.
You can't change the past. You are the total sum of your experiences.
You need to incorporate your past into your present so you can face the
future. I feel that those scars help me to do that. They remind me that
all the pain I've gone through in the past has made me into the person I
am today, a person who has not only survived, but has prospered.
In my family, while I was growing up, there had been some knife
incidents. Although there had been close calls, never did I or anyone
else get stabbed. But I might as well have been stabbed, with the
effects growing up like that had on me mentally. Even though Keith used
a scalpel as opposed to a knife, he is still a male using a sharp object
to cut me. Of course the two situations are completely different, but
our minds don't always recognize differences. I'm so glad that I was
able to allow myself to have this experience. It's ironic how a cutting,
being a wound, can actually have a healing effect, as it did for me.
I also have seen how important it is that I finally trust myself. I might be different but I know I'm not crazy. I feel mentally strong, calm and secure. I am getting closer to that peace, balance and harmony that I strive for everyday. I feel freer then I've ever been before. I definitely feel that getting these cuttings have helped me get closer to finding out and being the type of person I want to be and to live the life I want to live.
Any questions or comments can be emailed to me at: Bonita80@webtv.net
That's all of it. I tried to proofread it as much as I could! I hope it's not too long. Take care, Christine
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Oct. 1998
Artist: Keith Alexander