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Reclamation

I titled this BME experience as "ritualistic", although some of you may disagree; I considered the following accounts as ritualistic due to the frequency of the acts and the devotion in which I had given them as a necessary part of my life. My first peek into the world of BM came by way (as I'm sure many of you will agree) of teen angst, thoughts of self destruction etc. I had a very atypical start in life, Extremely grim and violent, in and out of psychiatric facilities and by my mid teens I had began to take my anger out on myself. I started with knives, broken bottles, soda cans ripped in half, I'd carve words or images into my arms and legs and while it could be viewed as self destructive cutting myself brought relief, i could feel my anger subside and a warm body wrap envelope me... was it simply an adrenaline rush or the latent belief that everything in life is temporary, my hate, my frustrations and my body? As the years went by I started noticing how my attitude towards scarring myself had changed (by the time I was 18 my designs were more elaborate), It went from being mere hesitation lines of an angry teen to a sort of reclamation of my life, my mind and my body, I was taking back what was rightfully mine and once I understood what I was doing I pursued my ritual with more clarity than I had up until that time.

When I turned 18, the director of the group home I'd been living in decided to take me to a local bookstore to buy me a gift. As we walked through the aisles I'd noticed perched on a shelf a copy of "Modern Primitives" published by Re/search. The cover caught my attention immediately and despite the disapproval of my guardian I purchased the book anyway. For years everyone called my scars "suicide attempts", in Modern Primitives they described scars as "Art" and "Ritualistic" and "Body Modification", I felt as if I had been accepted and also began to feel like less of a freak. After having this book for 3 days I decided I wanted to take the next step in reclaiming myself... I decided to pierce my penis. In 1988 there weren't any piercing shops around or at least none that I knew of, I had studied the pictures I had seen in MP and read fakir's article over and over until I was confident enough to proceed on my own and in secret. I swabbed alcohol on my penis while my heart pounded wildly in my chest. I didn't have professional tools and so I used a sewing needle, a wine cork and lots of cotton balls. I wasted no time and slowly but surely worked the needle into my urethra, kept the hole open by placing the cork screw on the tip of the needle to keep it from sliding out, at this time I didn't know where to buy a Prince Albert and so I used a key chain ring the kind that had a clasp. After I had fastened the clasp together I tugged lightly at my makeshift P.A. and stood in the mirror for hours staring at it with pride and admiration. Sounds silly but I felt new, reborn. I didn't tell anyone what I had done, back then something like that would have gotten you locked up in a psychiatric hospital.

After I pierced myself I started experimenting with other forms of "ritualism" and "self expression". I'd use cigarettes to burn symbols into my arms, it started with 3 evenly spaced dots forming a pyramid or trinity, I placed one burn close to the bend in my arm symbolizing my past... when I bend my arm the burn disappears, I know it's still there but as with history it fades into a dot obscured by shadows, I placed the second mark just under my arm, I can't see this mark unless I twist my arm upwards, this mark symbolized the present, I placed it out of view to represent my search for the unseen, those hidden aspects of life. The third and last mark moves forward and towards my hand representing the future and all the possibilities it may hold in store for me. Other burn marks include an L on my Left arm for the Love of my Life whose name also begins with the letter L. I tried branding the web of my left hand with a symbol I've adopted for my own but it didn't set well (I should have used a thinner wire). Other forms of ritualistic pain and body experimentation I'd persue were as follows... I'd cut niches into my penis and pour salt or lemon juice into the wounds, I'd bind my crotch with rope, string, fishing wire or electric cords sometimes to elongate sometimes to force it into unusual shapes, I'd tie my piercing to a nail I'd hammered into the window sill and walk backwards until I feared it would snap off, I had also made a strange little device much like nautilus equipment to pull 5-10 lb. weights up and down. I'd pierce my chin with sewing needles, sport a steel goatee and insert rows of pins into my arms. Outside of piercing I'd experiment with poison oak, mace, stun guns, stereo amplifiers, blindness, sleep and sensory deprivation, abstinence from food and drink, spontaneous bruising... but I'll save all that for another time. I wrote this mini autobiography simply to share how I first became involved in BM ... I finally feel as if I belong to me and no one else, my life, my mind and my body are mine.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 March 2001
in Ritual

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Artist: self
Studio: my+apt
Location: NYC

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