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From self-injury to self discovery

For a good majority of my life, I have had the stigma placed on me of being a "self injurer". Through shame and guilt I have gone for 22 long years trying to hide the scars, making excuses and lies about what really happened, and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Im not what people consider "Emo" nor am I an angst ridden teen. Im a man entering my thirties, college educated, and overall a well balanced individual.

Very recently, through the help of someone near and dear to my heart, I have begun to look back at my life, and have done some serious self analyzation of what I have always been led to believe was a problem, and a taboo.

My cutting has always been very ritualistic, even from a young age.  While I do have areas of random cutting, for the most part it always manifested itself as parallel lines.  These markings harken back to the war paint of the first nation warriors, as well as images of tribesmen the world over.  What caused me, even at a young age, to chose to mark myself such as this.  Then it hit me; balance and order.  The lines are for the most part evenly spaced, cut to the same depth and width, and placed in spots that balance with the form of the body.

An aside is needed here in relation to the warrior reference above.  I consider myself to have a warrior mentality.  Not one of overt violence and rage, but as a warrior of old.  Yes I have trained in various forms of martial arts, and have more than my fair share of fighting experience.  Added to this, however, is a deep understanding of philosophy, art, music, and a large assortment of other artistic and creative skills.  Just as the warriors of old were singers, dancers, and orators, I allow myself to have as deep of understanding of the world as possible.  A fighter is just a fighter, a warrior is so much more.

Back to task, I have found myself looking deeper into the reasons why I have chosen for so long to mark myself, and the answers have been many and diverse.  The first issue is and always has been control for me.  Even in a world where it seemed everything was spiraling out of control, the pain of the cut and the blood that I let were always mine.  It wasn't a case of not being able to cope with stress, but rather was a case of reigning my body and mind in.  The sting of the cut, the look and smell of the blood, and the endorphin afterwards allowed me a focal point to curb the chaos in my mind, a grounding experience so to speak.

Secondly, where most people look at my scars, and see weakness and poor coping skills, I see only strength and survival.  My scars are my own personal armor.  Each mark represents a time where weakness could have ended my life.  Rather than submit to the world, I carried on, I conquered, and I made it through stronger.  Each scar is another layer to my armor, another piece to prove to the world that I am a warrior, that I am stronger than whatever life may throw at me.  Each scar a personal testament to my will to live.

The third thing I realized on this journey of self exploration is that I should never be shamed or quilted into thinking im bad or wrong for what I do.  People fear what they don't understand, but rather than bow to the masses, and cover up my markings for the sake of the world, I have learned to be strong in my choices and not be afraid of who and what I am.  Will most be able to understand this?  Sadly this world will most likely never be able to cope with those like me.  Does that mean I should feign shame for the sake of others narrow world views?  As bad as this might sound, I have stopped doing that.  I live for myself now, for what is possibly the first time in my life.

I recently read an article that introduced me to the term "reclamation" in regards to self injury.  It isn't a matter of hiding the old scars, but making a choice to take back control.  I have always had this control, but never realized it.  Im on a quest now to use this newly rediscovered control, and truly make my body my own.  Im seeking a way to tie the scars together, either through a self done cutting, or through the services of a local artist.  The next step is a big one for me.  It is no longer a case of being ashamed of who and what I am.  No longer will I let those who are close to me guilt or patronize me for what I do.  Im taking a untrodden path, a new journey.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 March 2008
in Ritual

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