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Self Control, or, Why I Branded Myself

I have, since I was a child, been interested in body modification, piercings, tattooing, and any other experience that would be considered not normal my Western culture. Given my upbringing as a hardcore Xtian (don't worry, I got kicked out of that long ago!), I was exposed to endless stories of people suffering for god, art, freedom, the hell of it. Who am I to deny my upbringing (ha-ha!)? I have done, as I expect many others have, things to my body to either commemorate incidents in my life or to provide a very physical (how should I describe this??) grounding base for the mental-emotional whirlwind that seemed to be getting a bit out of control. Take for instance, my first branding. I was in a relationship (including a certain someone, which also included her friends, her view of our future, etc.) that had me basically at the short end of the give-and-take stick. We had argued heatedly, and I felt we were askew (look it up). I knew that at the end of the night, when I could finally be alone, that I wanted, and HAD, to give myself a...what? Painful gift? A physical adrenalin rush to push all the bullshit out of my brain? A scar across my body to remind myself whose damn life it was anyway? Something I thought looked pretty goll-durn cool? All of the above, and more. I needed (for lack of a better term) SELF CONTROL. And what a way to do it. I looped "Cerberus" by the band Amon Duul on my stereo. Music is often important, I mean, try getting pierced to Menudo or Britney Spears and see what you get! I wasn't on anything, but I did take a glug of vodka to calm my nerves. I then went about getting my gear. My trusty X-Acto knife (don't think I'll be getting a sponsorship here!) would do, placed on my gas stove. I had all necessary antibiotics and coverings ready, and with an ultrafine Sharpie, I traced the marks I was soon to brand into myself. Basically, it was a greater-than, less-than symbol above either nipple, four inches across each angle, with a tiny symbol between the angles of each one. With the whirling music above my head, and a mirror in front of me, I looked myself in the eyes once, and took the knife from the stove. The first strike was pure agony, with me howling like an animal while pulling a white hot piece of metal across my chest. My main fear was that I would go into shock too far to recover, or simply pass out. Neither happened. Adrenalin, like novocaine wax, coursed though my body in a tangible stream, covering me and numbing me, allowing me to finish what I knew I had to. Not for anyone else, but for me. I was IN CONTROL! The next few hits were almost seen (to me) from an outsiders point of view; I didn't feel a thing. I watched, hypnotized and fascinated as a child, at myself doing this to me. My left side was totally done now, the flesh around the burn pinking, the burn itself an ugly (I'll admit) yellow fat color, white around the edges. I knew, however, that it would heal very well, and look, well, pretty fucking cool, a symbol of what I needed in my life. I realized then I would have to do my right side with my left hand. Let this be a lesson to you all. Not ambidextrous? Get a friend to help!!! At this point I had to stop and reheat the knife. Talk about an awkward, anxious moment. Could I do this all again? With my left hand??? The right side of my body was not to fare quite so well. Good intentions aside, I was not so exact with my left hand and was left with the most stylish shrapnel wound ever. Actually, it's not that bad, but someone else could have traced my lines better. Hindsight is, of course, 20-20. The healing process was pretty painful, being in a fairly mobile area of skin, and having to wear a shirt at my job, ha-ha. Months later, I wear my new scars fairly secretly, but proudly. I don't show them off at clubs or anything; it's still a conservative town I live in. But between tattoos and piercings, they represent one of the most centering moments I've had, for better or worse. Would I do it again? If I needed and wanted it. But my experience was one of trial and error. I would recommend certainly a bit more pre-planning to anyone thinking about doing this, and a bit of cutaneous research. But boy, was it ever good for me! Send me an email if you want any nore info, etc... -Delarche

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 03 March 2001
in Scarification

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Location: Atlanta

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