From Addiction to Art
I had a rather horrid childhood filled with abuse and turned to self-injury at a rather young age to keep myself sane and to prevent getting in further trouble (cutting kept my mouth shut when I was upset and my mother from being angered and abusing me further). Because of my problems at home and my visible means of acting out on them, I never had many friends and had to find other ways to stifle myself while at school and in public. To do this, I discovered art. I had no real talent, but trained myself to draw figures with utter precision simply by tracing pages and pages of images from whatever sources were near (textbooks, newspapers, etc.)
I developed my artistic skills well enough by high school that I earned a full scholarship at an art school and went on to college fully funded. Through this time, I was still self-injuring daily and had begun to panic as I feared that I would soon have to stop if I was ever going to get a job (I was a secondary education history and art major). When I realized that I didn't want to though (and that I couldn't, I was addicted) I started to think of other ways to camouflage my cutting and make it more acceptable to others. I began experimenting with cutting in patterns and images and soon turned to ink rubbings to disguise the scars my freshman year of college.
I incorporated old scars into designs (even random slashes became huge landscapes on my flesh) and with the help of india ink and a fine-point needle, even incorporated shading into the designs making them multi-dimensional. The raised scar tissue on my body that showed everyone my pain became my canvas. I continued to cut (still for personal reasons as much as for artistic visions) but I cut with a purpose...with a design in mind. My whole body became one big project as I turn every scar (of which there were thousands) into art. I stopped being ashamed of my scars and hiding them and instead showed them off at every opportunity.
Finally, last month, I finished my masterpiece. My upper body is a utopian cityscape (slashes into skyscrapers) and my stomach and lower body descend into a lush garden with vines that cover my thighs and reach down to join with the calla lillies that were created from the scars on my ankles. After I finished, I was not sure what to do. There was still bare flesh in the most intimate areas of my body where I had never dared cut (on my neck, in the small of my back where I could not reach and on my hands and feet).
I haven't yet decided if I want to continue my project or not. In a way, I don't think that I do. When I look at those patches of bare skin, there is no design that comes to mind for them. And after years of work converting my old scars to art, I don't dare cut there, even out of anguish, and ruin the beauty of my design with random slashes that I lack vision for. I would have never thought I would have been able to stop cutting (nor did I want to)...but it just happened that way. I don't want it anymore...I don't want to ruin the perfect canvas that I've made my body. I respect my body now...even all of its scar tissue and pains, because I've managed to finally see them not as an output of anger and aggression, but as an investment into my own identity.
*In the past couple of years, I've also filled in a few of the gaps on my flesh with small tattoos. For instance, in the heart of the city on my upper body, arms and torso, I've had aspects of a street scene tattooed in, including the sky in the background (complete with a dusky blue hue and a setting sun). In other areas, I have put in personal symbols for myself (a broken heart with a sun peeking through included). I've also gotten several piercings including my septum, eyebrow, horizontal brace, vertical labret and navel. I've given up aspirations to teach (the conformity of practicums eventually bored me) and now design my body as I wish. I love the connection of pain and art in body modification. I plan to post pictures on this site of my own as soon as I can find a digital camera to borrow, but in the meantime, love looking at others. (I only discovered y'all after Betty Ann at Icon tattoo in Nashville showed me the site).
I don't really have a proper ending to this...it is an experience report, but the experience has been most of my young life...
To pain and pleasure,
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 19 Feb. 2006