The Little Star That Set Me Free
Despite the fact that I am of the fierce "don't modify your body unless you've really thought about it first" school of thought, my first venture into body modification had little or not intellect behind it. In all actuality, it was little more than an act of teenage rebellion, the result of a period of intense "suppression" (as I like to call it) from my family and friends.
I had never had the whole "happy childhood" experience, nor had I been raised in a family that encouraged independent thought and / or being unique. My parents were DEATHLY opposed to tattoos, frowned heavily on piercings, and refused to even let me associate with people that bore such disrespectful alterations to their bodies. We moved around from place to place, and after our third move in as many years, I had finally had enough - I wanted out of this status quo household. But I was only 16 years old at the time, so there wasn't much that I could do about my housing situation. In the end, I decided that I was going to break free in another way - I would "deface" my body in rebellion against my parents beliefs. It sounds corny, it's super-cheesy, but hey, when you're 16 the whole thought of rebellion is strangely appealing.
My mother had given me a small Swiss Army penknife when we moved to our third home. I'm not really sure why - maybe it was just a token, or maybe she didn't have as much faith in the neighborhood we lived in as she liked to make us think. I carried that little knife with me everywhere, got myself sent home from school a few times because of it, and just a couple years back it even saved my life. But really, I like to think that it saved my mind long before it saved my flesh.
I remember clearly sitting on my bed one night at almost two in the morning, my feet bare and crossed up in the Lotus position, and I turned my little knife over and over in my hands. It felt so small and delicate, just like a tool, and before I knew what I was doing I had snapped it open and started carving light scratches into the insteps of my feet. I wasn't really thinking of anything exciting - it was more that I was simply enjoying the skipping, scraping pain of it. The scratching was acute and almost nerve-grating, and when I felt a particularly strong pinch I looked down to find that I had cut myself.
Staring at that beaded little spot of blood on my skin, a red pearl against my pale flesh, I was suddenly struck by inspiration. This was how I would do it - this was how I would break free.
I grabbed an old T-shirt out of my dresser and folded it up, placing it beneath my foot, and with surprising calm I pressed the tip of the knife into my foot. The pain was really nothing exciting - it was a hot, almost itching sensation that tingled all the way up to my knee. I held the knife there for a moment, enjoying the feeling, and then slowly began to cut.
I wasn't much of an artist back then, and to be honest, I wasn't in the state of mind where I was looking to create something beautiful. I simply wanted SOMETHING - I needed proof that I was different, that I could be myself if I wanted to, that I was unique in the eyes of the world. So I kept cutting and cutting, going back over lines, creating those little "fly-away" lines that look so bloody awful (pardon the pun), and generally making a mess of my foot. The blood pooled on my instep and soaked into my shirt, veins of red running across the bottom of my foot, and after about an hour of slow dragging through my skin I had created a star.
It was only about the size of a quarter, a messy outline that really wasn't cut very deep. I stared at it for the longest time, admiring this change, and I suddenly felt it.
I was complete. I had found something in me that was missing. This little piece of artwork had taken me up a level, from human to canvas, and I felt as if I had transcended the pressures and complications of everyday life. I felt suddenly as if I had found my place in the world - it was a thrilling, profound moment that brought tears to my eyes.
After about half an hour I set to work filling the star, just drawing diagonal lines to create a "filled" look that would make it a little more bold. As I mentioned before, it wasn't very deep. I wasn't looking for it to scar or even be noticeable at all once the scabs had come off. I just needed something for the moment.
Once the filling was completed I wrapped my foot in my T-shirt and snuck through the hall into the bathroom, digging up the first aid kit and pulling out a gauze pad and a tensor bandage. Some antibiotic cream and a good wrapping later, I limped back to bed and curled under the covers, my body trembling with adrenaline and the anticipation of waking in the morning a new person.
Well, I woke in the morning a new person, but also a very sore and very incapable of walking person. My foot had swollen drastically overnight, and as I'd foolishly carved this little star into my instep, it throbbed like there was no tomorrow. Yes, the thrill of the moment had dulled the pain, but my half-coherent brain the next morning was not in the mood for the throbbing it caused. Still, I managed to make it through the school day, checking my foot in the bathroom between classes and praying that it wouldn't get infected.
The healing was rather uneventful seeing as it was such a minor cutting job. Had I had BME to reference for good information about cutting I would have made an attempt to make my little star more permanent, but as it is, I can still see the faintest hint of a scar. Unless I point it out to someone and trace the outline, nobody else can see it, and really, I like it that way. Having this little piece of memory to myself makes it all the more special, much like when people get white ink tattoos simply because they want something not as obvious to everyone else as it is to them.
So there you have it. My Do It Yourself star that changed my life. As far as suggestions and advice to others, well, I'm hardly an expert in the field. I have no professional cuttings of my own and really know very little about it, but I will say this - I believe it is just as capable of forever changing your life as tattoos and piercings are, and perhaps more. The feeling of being cut is profound and mind-numbing - you walk away from it feeling like a permanently changed person, and your outlook on life is forever changed (or, at least, mine was).
It took me this long to realize the impact that little cutting had on my life, and while the scar itself is nothing exciting to look at, the experience of it changed my life in ways that I can never properly describe in words.
submitted by: osiri
on: 01 Oct. 2004