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oh great, NOW i'm trendy

oh great, NOW i'm trendy by shattered innocents i'm a "cutter." in my case, i know it's because of my abuse issues ... childhood sexual abuse, but also physical, verbal and psychologoical abuse. my experience with self-scarification started around age nine. my home life was such that adding more pain on top of what i was already experiencing was actually a great source of comfort ... I was in control, I was the one doing the harm, I could stop the pain and start the pain whenever i wanted to. cutting, burning, scratching designs ... some other things involving my vulva and anus that i don't feel like talking about yet but i'm sure some of the female readers have been through the same thing. you see, if you hurt yourself ... you can always say "i hurt myself" ... even if all of the scars were not made by you. you're in control. are all "cutters" abuse survivors? i don't think so. how many are abuse survivors? i don't know. i am beginning to research the issue, actually. because i have never been trendy. i have rejected trends like some people reject a piercing. i wore boot cuts when they wore bell-bottoms. i wore boy's baseball tops when they wore day-glo ruffles. i wore nice new jeans when they wore the ones with the big holes in the knees. i do what i want, when i want. but ... now i am actually "cool." i am "in on the trend." because i cut. i think that's bullshit. life-changing experience: i was at the mall in the HT store (not sure if i can mention a trademarked name but you all pretty much know what it is i bet). normally i wear wide bracelets and elbow-length sleeves to cover my scars, because they are mine, for me to see and maintain and expand if i want to. that day, i had forgotten to put a bracelet on. i also was busy reading all of those great stickers with snotty sayings on them, and handed my Visa over with my left hand. the salesperson, a male "rivethead" (really cute guy! great grommets, with red acrylic ram's horns. but i digress) saw my wrist and said "oh wow!" and turned to the other salesperson, a female rivethead, and said "you've got to see this!!" and he held my hand and they both ooh'ed and aah'ed and gushed and said things like "that is SO cool" and "how long did it take?" i was just speechless. this was the first time anyone other than me, my husband, or my therapist, had seen any of my scars. i didn't know what to say. i wanted to scream "it's NOT cool, i do it because i was abused" or "it took 33 years, because i am 33 years old and i am still doing this" or one of a million things to say that popped into my head--of course, all of them a week later. at the time, i just mumbled "it's not really cool" and signed the credit slip and left the store in a hurry. you see, i am very pale, naturally. my veins (or are they arteries? i always mix them up, duh) are blueish-purple and very visible through my skin, even on the top of my forearms. so you can imagine what my wrist looks like naturally. now imagine a 3" long scar running right along the large vein on the inside of my wrist. a "suicide" scar. (you know, "across for ambulance, up and down for coffin" as the saying went back in the mid-80s when i was in high school.) only, i have never attempted suicide--by cutting, anyway. i have simply traced this scar over and over ... and over ... and over ... since i was about 9 years old. i've let it heal, then re-opened it. i've treated it with vitamin E oil (bottled, 1500 IUs, works fastest, you can get it in health food stores) to almost get rid of it. then i've cut it again. i've never opened the vein itself ... i am so damn good at cutting, i can run the blade right along the vein and FEEL it rolling under the blade. i inherited "rolling veins" from my mom. makes it hard to get blood tests and IVs. makes it really great to cut yourself. when i got home i thought a lot about that experience at HT. those kids were so damn happy to see that scar. they admired it. my first thought was "are the survivors too?" then i thought "do they think it's just another body modification, like tatooing or piercing?" so i did a web search. and by now i have seen scars like i have never seen before ... swirls, leaves, flames, spirals ... all so breathtakingly beautiful. slashed right into visible skin, in large patterns! it makes me feel ashamed to have my little patches of tight parallel lines here and there on the insides of my arms or legs ... even my vein looks pathetic up against a nice big Celtic design. i must not have enough dedication to pain!! but i don't feel any pain when i cut. as Pink Floyd says, i'm "comfortably numb" by the time i'm cutting myself. i have to hide my blades. my husband throws them away when he finds them. i am a connoisseur. mere kitchen knives do nothing for me, and i have a whole drawer of nice sharp ones. what i really love is a real razor blade, stainless steel, a safety blade with a nice solid top bar so i can actually feel the rebound as my vein rolls around under the tip. or an x-acto knife. when nothing else can be found, breaking open a plastic razor and removing the thin, flexible metal blades can be okay (those are good for the slashing cuts that i call "the hundreds," not the vein cuts, because i need to feel the vein rolling. my patches of hundreds are crude, in-the-moment, almost like rushing an orgasm. the scars from them make my skin ripple like a very high-quality velvet corduroy when i turn around under the light). i have to stop myself from laughing in front of the medical professionals who have given me IVs or taken my blood. they apologize to me for all the pain they're causing because they've "missed the vein" or "your vein just rolled away from the needle." they have no idea how much pleasure i am getting from that needle. or how i love to see those smoky red threads winding back up into the IV tube, or the lovely merlot color of my own blood filling the test tube (get a blood culture some day, they have to take 2 little bottles worth, it's heavenly). now they all use those little "butterfly" needles that i can't feel, i really miss the big ones. i know, i sound insane. actually, i'm fairly mentally healthy. even my therapist said i have a firm grip on reality, and that i have the tools with which to recover from the horrific experiences of my youth, because i am creative and resourceful. i know the difference between suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts. i know why i self-harm, and i know how to stop. she would like it if i stopped cutting, but she knows that i might always do it, so she worries about my health, my immune system. you see, cutters can be sane, but only if they are aware of WHY they cut. i know ... i know the whowhywhatwhenwheres of all of it. on a side note, i got a cartilege pierce May 12, 2001. on impulse, even though i had been wanting one for many years. i went to the JCPenney hair salon to get a haircut, and they were busy, but i saw the sign for piercing and thought "oh just ask" and when i found out it was only $8 for a cartilege pierce, plus the cost of the earring, i hopped right into the chair. yes, it was stupid ... it was a gun pierce ... it was monumentally stupid ... NOW i know all that. i got a hematite ball on a post. i later learned that a post is only 22 gauge, 20 at best. it didn't hurt. it looked really nice. until about a week later, when it just hurt all the damn time. it wasn't red, it wasn't even leaking fluid, it just hurt all the time. i couldn't lie the left side of my head on a pillow even. where did i go for advice? you guessed it ... the kids at HT. they looked at it closely and said i really needed a ring or a horseshoe. because then it would lie almost flat, and move freely, and i would be able to lie on it to sleep (they were right!). but, the smallest gauge they had was 18. after comparison, they measured my post to be a 22 gauge. but, store policy said they couldn't change my earring for me. so i bought a nice 18 gauge horseshoe (or whatever it's called elsewhere) with spikes for ends. they said to go to one of the great tattoo shops around here to have a professional change it for me and make the hole bigger. i couldn't wait. i changed it right away, right there in the mall bathroom ... i washed up with soap and hot water, kept everything clean, kept washing to make sure. it took me about 15 minutes. it was very painful, although i couldn't feel any pain, sweat was popping out on my forehead and i felt slightly nauseous, so i know i was in pain. i could feel each of the little screw threads popping through. it was almost orgasmic! finally, i got it in, and i screwed the little spike onto the end. my ear was a little red, but i thought it looked glorious. now it doesn't hurt at all. i love it. i want more. i want another one just like it in my right ear, to match. i want a 16 gauge in each ear a little below, also with spiked ends. i want some tiny eyebrow barbells, maybe 2 on each side ... i want a banana ring in my belly button with a yin-yang bead ... i want a van dyke (that's what it's called here, i think it's just a labret elsewhere) with a plain steel bead ... i want nipple barbells with one of those lovely, jeweled lotus-petal "guards" ... i want ... i want ... oh, do i want ... my husband said he'd divorce me if i got anything extreme. maybe just another cartilege pierce to make it symmetrical would be ok, but he said it makes him sick. i only have one tattoo, a pitifully tiny yin-yang the size of a quarter on the inside of my left ankle, and he hated that, so i'm not pushing it. i love the guy. what i really want now is some pocketing ... i want shiny little steel bars, 3 of them, across the "hundreds" on the inside of my upper left arm. i want those little parallel lines to be mirrored by steel. i doubt i'd reject them, because i've been slicing into myself for 25 years and haven't rejected anything or had an infection yet. knock wood but, since i am staying married to the man i love, it will remain a dream, a sketch in my sketchbook, a fantasy. what's the moral of this story? basically it all pivots on that first experience in the HT store, where some kids thought my wrist "vein tracing" was cool. i learned the word "scarification" for the first time. i learned that it is cool, and trendy, and very awesome. at first i thought they were just nuts. i wanted to lecture them on how un-cool it really is. but then i have been looking at it a lot more lately. i stopped wearing wide bracelets on that wrist. i've started using my left hand more in public. some have stared or gasped, but some have also made eye contact with me and smiled. i smile back, but with sadness also in my eyes. am i going to make my vein trace bigger, or trace any other veins? no. am i going to maintain it the way it is right now and not let it heal, just so i can be "cool" and "trendy?" no. i still know why i do it, and it's still all for me. i'm still in control of it. i just never know when i'll get the urge to cut again. it might be later tonight.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 30 July 2001
in Scarification

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Artist: me
Studio: my+home
Location: wherever+i+live+at+the+time

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