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The Process Is Yours

It was March 26, 2003, about 4:00 am, when I decided that I needed to do something interesting that I've never done before. Some form of body art that would push the limits of what I've done previously. I am pierced and tattooed, and many of my piercings are self-done. Yet I have never once created a scar because I wanted it there as a mark of power, spirituality, and strength. I used to cut myself and all my negative feelings would pour out through the cuts, it seemed. However, that wasn't enough to justify it in my mind as something positive. I decided that I needed to make something of my own that would remind me that my life is a process, my art is a process, and that process is mine.

Though I don't consider myself religious, I have always felt that on many levels, I can definitely identify with the Church of The Process (www.process.org). I also love Skinny Puppy and their song "The Process" off the album of the same name. I believe song lyrics can be very powerful because words can set a person free. A particular phrase that caught my eye was "So be it" and another was "A guiltless state of self-awareness." I listened and stared at The Process symbol on my screen. You can read about The Process symbol on the website link I mentioned above. It is closely linked to Buddhism as well.

There are some things in life that you just have to do, and there's no arguing it. This was one of those things. I had to cut and I had to do it out of empowerment and guiltless self-awareness, not out of pain or sorrow. To truly cauterize the wounds of the past, I had to step back there for a second and set things right.

I took a new ballpoint pen and drew The Process symbol on the inside of my left ankle, to the left of my ankle bone as you look at it head-on. The symbol measured about an inch by an inch in size. As I carefully drew onto my skin, I became more and more certain that I needed to do this. My friend and roommate Juna helped me out and took some photos too.

I put on "The Process" by Skinny Puppy and got an iodine prep pad, triple antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, a pack of brand new single-edge razor blades (the kind for mat knives), gloves, toilet paper, and stop-bleed (thanks BMEshop!) in case I needed it. I wanted to try an ink rubbing so I got my new bottle of black India ink as well. I'm not sure when I decided to make my cutting into an ink rubbing instead but the decision felt very right, so I set out my supplies, put on my gloves, picked up the razor blade, and began.

Since the blade was new, it was very sharp and so I barely felt it slicing through my skin. I had wiped the area with the iodine pad. I was sitting down with my left leg up as if I were sitting cross-legged, so it was a weird angle at first but over time I wasn't even aware of my physical self, it seems.

After the first cuts were made to establish the lines, I rubbed it with alcohol and started the next round of cutting. The gloves were getting in the way so I took off the glove on my right hand and held onto the razor blade constantly so I wouldn't contaminate my surface. I used my left, gloved hand to wipe away the blood.

The feeling was both familiar and completely new. The familiarity lay in the brief stinging sensation. The new feeling was that of triumph rather than defeat. I lost track of all time in creating this tiny little masterpiece. I forgot that my foot was asleep and I was bleeding. I forgot mundane, everyday life as I seemed to ascend beyond the physical pain and into a different realm of consciousness.

Once I was almost satisfied with the depth of the cuts, (after all it was only 4 lines, but they would be forever!) I took a break to wipe the area with a damp square of toilet paper (we didn't have paper towels) and get the ink ready. Again, I'd never done an ink rubbing before and had no fucking clue how it would look in, say, a year, how that ink would hold up beneath my skin, but I had to know.

I changed my gloves and dropped the ink on. I rubbed it into the cut with my fingers and wiped away the extra blood. I don't know how long this process took, but I do remember at one point asking Juna to start the CD over, so I guess it might have taken a while. When it looked as if the ink had been rubbed in nice and deep, I decided it was finished.

I went into the bathroom and turned on the tub, lukewarm water. The water hitting my leg made it sting, I think because by that time my sleeping leg had woken up and I had come back down to Earth. I washed it off with Ivory soap and patted it dry. Then I wrapped it up in plastic for a few hours while I slept. I woke up a few hours later, took the wrapping off, and washed it again.

It's the next day now, and the scar is looking good. I'm very curious as to how the ink will hold up. It hurts a little bit but I've been keeping it very clean and letting air get to it, so it should heal up pretty quickly. It strikes me how right it feels. It's a little tiny symbol and yet I feel like I should have been born with it. When I look at it, it reminds me that I need to step back and see how far I've come. As to how it will look in x number of years, weeks, whatever, the process is mine, and I have faith that it will heal nicely. If it doesn't look good, I have the power to change that.

This experience was definitely very enlightening for me because it was all mine. I guess it's kind of strange that after getting pierced and tattooed many times, I went back to this primitive method of body art, but again, I cannot reiterate enough how right it felt for me. The primitive nature of it, if anything, makes it even more right in my mind.

Body modification is an interesting thing. A modification may not change a person instantaneously, but over time, that person may redirect his or her mind and feel different, more free, less ensnared by society's boundaries. I think many people need to do things to free themselves spiritually. Especially in this time, with this war and conflict, with our country in so much chaos, it is imperative that we never lose track of who we are and our own process in life.

I'm not sure how I will explain this ink rubbing to people if they happen to notice. I doubt your average citizen would possibly understand the beauty that can come from simple things like a single blade and some ink. Then again, I am starting to wonder why it is so necessary that the modified folk must explain themselves. It's just what we do and who we are.

So be it.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 28 March 2003
in Scarification

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