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Creating White Ovals

The following experience is that of a ritual branding which took place without any precautions to prevent infection. Doing it on your own is risky enough, even if you fully intend to be sanitary. My example is not one to be followed.

Among the many nights during which anxiety crept upon me and attempted to strangle the will to live from my head, only one ended with me burning myself with a curling iron.

The only reason I have a curling iron in my possession is because sometimes I convince myself that I actually know how to use it on my hair. I don't. Any time I attempt to use it, the result lasts a few minutes, tops. Nonetheless, it's there. Some nights when my head was swaying from being so packed tight with all these thoughts that I didn't even want to be thinking, I'd curl my hair to pass the time and give myself something tedious and arbitrary to do. When my hands were occupied, somehow those thoughts trickled out of my ears onto the floor and blended with the dirty carpet just enough to give me a few moment of relief.

Years ago it started with cutting, little scattered lines. Then they grew longer, and deeper. Then I moved on to peeling. I convinced myself that make-shifting a method of flesh removal scarification would upgrade me from a manic-depressive, self-mutilating, anxiety-ridden emotional wreck to something with depth and meaning.

At this point in my life, I had taken a break. Life was so-so, but I had this overwhelming desire to be without a large portion of my skin. I considered my options. Burning myself seemed like the most painful, yet most efficient method of removing skin. So, I let the iron heat up. I let it sit for a few hours, going about my normal business trying not to feel the heat as it convinced all the air molecules around it to speed up their perpetual wiggling. While those fast-dancing molecules were trying to catch up with me, I decided on the placement. I take into account regular visibility, ease of care, resilience of skin, and sensitivity. I decided on the left side of my ribcage, inches under the breast; an area that is easily covered by a bra.

I took a long shower, a few minutes to relax, and then I sat down in front of the mirror and tried to decide whether or not to do it. Of course, the moment doubt crept into my head I had to squelch it with an over-zealous amount of enthusiasm. I pressed the iron against my skin and counted to ten. The pain was the most intense I had experienced. A slash of a blade lasts a split second. Piercing lasts just a few seconds. The constant pain and consistent heat of the iron essentially cooking my skin was definitely cringe-worthy.

I had spent years developing a tolerance for pain and this incident occurred after I had lost my "edge." I wasn't so tolerant anymore, and I wanted to prove my will to myself. I didn't cry, I didn't scream, I didn't even bite my lip. My jaw dropped and I couldn't manage to breathe, but then it was over.

The skin was lifeless and white, but the spot I had made was an unsatisfactory size. I had something to prove and I was going to accomplish... whatever I was after. I pressed the iron against my skin once more, an inch below the original burn. I held this one for a few moments less than the first. The spot had swollen and if it wasn't sensitive enough already, this made the thought of a second burn the wrong idea. But, I was proving something to myself. I saw the two white ovals under my breast and felt content. I had accomplished something.

I didn't bandage, I didn't put anything on them. I just fell asleep, overwhelmed by the sudden lack of adrenaline. Upon awaking, small pockets of what I assume to be plasma had made slightly comical bubbles below the very top layer of my seared flesh. I popped and drained them as best I could, and then realized that these wounds were large. They were larger than a few slits in my skin. They weren't going to clot up minutes after I had carefully peeled off whole hunks of dead flesh. These monsters were going to leak all day long. And they did. I put on a bra to cover them, in the hopes that it would absorb the fluid and prevent it from ruining my clothes.

When the bra ended up being nearly fused to my wounds because of their leaking, I decided that a makeshift bandage was in order. I used what was available to me at the time. I had a gum wrapper. Winterfresh, I believe. I put the shiny side on my wound, and it was held in place by my bra. I knew that it wouldn't absorb any of the fluid, but that meant that nothing would stick, and then nothing would need to be ripped off.

Later in the week I managed to develop a method of using toilet paper around the gum wrappers, to absorb the fluid that leaked out from under said wrappers. The entire contraption was held in place by ace bandages because my one and only bra wasn't actually covering both wounds.

After about a week of using makeshift bandages, I let it dry out. There were several days where it leaked through my shirt, but soon enough it had closed.

I reveled in the ability to peel little bits of the scabs off, but it was almost as painful as the initial burn. I soon let the scabs peel themselves off.

The scars developed as nice, even keloids. I felt them near constantly for the first month, and I yearned near daily for someone else to touch them. Their kinesthetic effect is something I appreciate more than whatever the hell I ended up proving to myself. I've been considering doing more, all down my side. But when it comes to the waist I would anticipate that healing would be so much more difficult because of my need to move about.


submitted by: Salome
on: 13 Aug. 2008
in Scarification

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Artist: self
Studio: +
Location: Kansas+City%2C+Missouri

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