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The difference between cutting and cutting...

At the age of 13, I experimented with self-piercing and play piercing with some friends and loved the endorphin rush. It was an almost spiritual process for me. I liked having control over my body and over the amount of pain and pleasure that I felt. I was very big into meditation, and I began meditating after play piercing and found that it was a higher experience for me. I carved a pentagram on my ankle with a friend as a kind-of lame "bff" thing.

Fast-forward one year. My father, who for most of my life was absent, returned. And things went downhill. My dad was verbally abusive to both me and my mother, though worse to me. I was fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, etc. I wasn't good enough. He was convinced I was off having sex and doing drugs and god knows what else, so I wasn't allowed to leave the house except to go to school. I had no friends, nowhere to go. I spent most of my time locked in my room crying my eyes out, and my mother did the same by locking herself in the bathroom. I got to the point eventually where I couldn't take it anymore. I thought of the feeling I got from play-piercing, and how much better I felt, so after one particularly bad day, I went up to my room and pierced my arm 6 times. And it was a different feeling than it had ever been before. The endorphin rush was still there, but I also felt a sense of release. Everything that was trapped inside me began to come out. I felt better. I felt in control. Soon, every time my dad hurt me, I was piercing myself. I was no longer play-piercing like I had been before, it was different now. Eventually, I attempted to kill myself by slitting my wrists, but chickened out when I thought of my mom, scared of what would happen to her when I wasn't around for my dad to vent on. I thought about how much worse it would be for her if I was gone and my dad has no one else to hurt besides my mom. So I stopped cutting on the first wrist before I got too deep. Strangely though, I felt better. The feeling of a blade on my skin was better than that of a needle. There was more pain, more blood. I felt better. It helped.

I abandoned the needles and started cutting regularly. It was no longer a fun experiment like it had been with the play-piercing. It was something that I had to do. I felt a need to do it. If I didn't, I thought I would explode. I couldn't talk to anyone about my problems. My mom was in denial, I had no friends, the rest of my family knew but ignored the issue because it wasn't their "business." Cutting was the only way I had to handle all the shit I was feeling. I started randomly collecting anything I could use to cut—nail scissors, razor blades, sharp plastic. When I got to college, I even used my plastic dorm key card.

When I cut, everything stopped. For a few minutes, I didn't have to think. I loved my scars and hated them at the same time. On the outside, I finally looked like I felt on the inside, which to me was both a good thing and a bad thing. It became harder and harder to hide my problem as time went on. I wore long sleeves and jeans in 100 degree summer weather. My sister, who thankfully for some reason was left alone by my father, knew what was going on, and tried to tell my parents. My mom denied it and my dad just got angrier, which led to more and more cutting.

It wasn't until my freshman year of college, 4 years after I started cutting, that anyone tried to do anything about it. My boyfriend called the police one day when he walked into my dorm room and saw my arm bleeding. I was taken to a mental health facility that was basically crap. They spent 10 minutes "evaluating" me, concluded that I was depressed, and sent me home, advising me to start therapy. I, of course, did not. Upset at my boyfriend and at the dumbass therapist for not recognizing the real problem, and at myself for not being able to hide it well enough, I slit both of my wrists in the dorm bathroom. It was a semi-private bathroom, shared by only 4 of us. I passed out at some point and woke up in the hospital, told that my suitemate had called maintenance to beat the door in where they found me.

My dad came to the hospital and spent half an hour yelling at me for wasting his time and making him drive 2 hours to come get me. It should be noted, however, that he did not "come get me." He yelled at me and then left me there. That was the worst of it. When I finally got back to college, I made the decision myself to stop. I realized that every time I cut, I was letting my dad win. As long as I kept cutting, I was still letting him get to me. It was a very long battle and took 3 years before I stopped completely. Admittedly, my now-husband was a big part of my healing process. Without him, I honestly don't know if I would even be here today. He monitored me pretty closely. He made up a rule that if I felt like cutting, I was to come to him. I could yell at him, throw things, whatever I needed to do to release what I was feeling. I tried therapy but it didn't help. Granted I was going for free counseling at my college where the "counselors" were still psychology students, and probably didn't know enough to help.

But I eventually got through it. It's been a year and half since I last cut myself and I'd like to say that everything's ok, but it's not, and it's never going to be. It's a fight every damn day to not take something and cut. Little things set me off. I have a fight with my husband, I want to cut. I do bad on a test, I want to cut. We don't keep anything sharp in the house. We use plastic children's utensils, we don't buy canned sodas (so I can't pop the tabs off), there's no glass in the house, no metal. The way I live my day to day life is based on my problem. And because of this, my husband has had to change the way he lives. And I hate that. I'm amazed every day that he's still here, still taking care of me. I got lucky.

The point I want to make with this story, mainly, is to express the fact that there is a difference. Cutting for "modification" purposes or for spiritual reasons is one thing. But it's a very fine line between that and cutting for emotional or release reasons. When it switches from being an experiment or an "experience" to a need, it's different. It took me a long time to realize this.

This was painful for me to write. I've had to dredge up things that I spend most of my time trying not to think about. I haven't talked to my dad since that day in the hospital 4 and a half years ago. But I wanted to write this. I want people to understand that there is a HUGE difference. I'm not condemning play-piercing or cutting for mod purposes. I believe that it can be a very enlightening and personal and even spiritual experience. I just want people to be aware of differences so that maybe they can avoid doing to themselves what I did.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 04 May 2007
in Ritual

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