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Cutting with a Chopstick?

CAUTION: The following experience contains procedures which may be hazardous if copied. Please always be sure to go see an experienced practitioner, or at least use proper instruments!
In other words, don't do what we did!
A scar is the body's way of healing up damaged tissue, by laying down a new piece of flesh between 2 severed edges. The new flesh is different however, and depending on the depth of the wound, can form into something raised and completely smooth given time to heal.
For the majority of people, scars are simply accidental reminders of things that happened in the past, whether it be from a scraped knee in the playground, to the twisted knot of flesh that marks a close encounter with death by bullet, we all carry them.
Some people choose to take scars one step further in a deliberate act against the flesh, carving patterns ranging from the simple score line to the intricate array of marks which symbolise right of passage, each deeply carved line carrying a deeper significance along it's fleshy form.
Whether we choose to cut as an act of self cleansing, or an act of self-destruction, every person who does so deserves the right to explain why they have adorned their bodies in such a way, instead of the often blind wall of misunderstanding that confronts the many people who are marked in this way.
And so begins the story of my first cutting.
It was only a couple of months ago from when I write this that I had made the decision to actually go through with it, I had been contemplating the idea for several months before that, but I just did not feel confident to go ahead with the cutting at that time. Seeing an experienced practitioner was simply not an option for me, as such practises are currently illegal under UK law.
Instead, I searched the internet trying to find out as much as possible about performing a cut on myself, made sure I could find somewhere to get proper scalpels and bandages, and pretty much left it at that.
Gradually, the idea was forgotten in lieu of other things happening in my life, until one night when both my fiance and I were feeling at our lowest ebb in a long time. I had been having relationship problems with my parents, and my long term unemployment was starting to take a toll on my confidence, and I just felt like worthless shit, yet I was so frustrated that I could not think of a way to vent the feelings building up inside me. I had no one to speak to outside of my situation, and I gradually began to feel worse.
Finally things seemed to come to a point when I received yet another overdue bill, and something had to be done.
It was late at night when the idea struck us both to cut, and was not something either of us had prepared for: at that moment I felt so full of utter self-loathing that I felt like carving 'loser' across my forehead. My mind was whirling with thoughts of hatred at everyone and everything, and I guess I just felt that was what everyone in the world wanted me to do, to prove that I was just what I thought I was: a nothing.
But, some degree of rationale kicked in, and I suggested to my fiance that we take a long drive in the countryside first to think this through, hoping that the change of scenery and the time would give us a chance to actually think through what we were about to do.
Were we just doing this for the wrong reasons?
How were we going to cut ourselves without the proper supplies?
What were we going to cut? and,
Where were we going to cut?
We discussed things in the car while the nocturnal countryside blurred past outside, and slowly we began to address each question.
We weren't going to do this for the wrong reason. Yes, we were going to make cuts based on a feeling of self-hate, but we concluded to ourselves that why should hate be something that is never allowed grace outwith our own minds? We could see nothing wrong with scarring ourselves on that basis, as the entire point of the exercise was, we discovered, to come out of the other side with a sense of positivity, having discarded our hate in the form of a mark.
We also felt at 25 years of age, with neither of us having a past history as 'cutters', that this was not going to turn into an addiction, something we would feel we had to do every time we felt low in the future. This was also a very important point to have explored.
Our next topic of conversation moved towards placement. We didn't want to have something that could not be easily covered up incase we made a complete mess of things, so we both decided to cut on the bottom of the calf, just above the inner ankle joint, somewhere quite fleshy, yet easily concealed if need be.
Satisfied that we had given ourselves time to contemplate the idea, we returned home so that we could discuss the other 2 questions, which were design, and method.
We looked at lots of ideas for designs, though most were centred around the concept of hate. We considered using the Kanji symbol for 'hate', 'nothing' or 'worthless', but all the symbols we looked up were quite complex, and not something we felt able to even seriously consider.
Next came a piece of paper and a pen each, while we sat and drew abstract patterns attempting to come up with something simple that would represent the feeling of hatred. After 10 minutes of doodling we came up with this:
A simple pattern consisting of 4 vertical 'v's which we both decided to do, mine on my left leg, my fiance's on her right.
We went through to the bathroom so that we could shave off any little hairs on and around the area we would be cutting, wiped it down with Savlon antiseptic spray, and drew on the pattern with an alcohol-based pen. Next, we had to think of something to use to do the cuts with, and I most certainly don't suggest you use what I'm about to describe!
We each took a new disposable razor, prized open the plastic and carefully removed the blade. This we bound to the heavy end of a wooden chopstick, with a generous wrapping of electrician's tape, which created a rudimentary tool which could be used in slightly similar fashion to a conventional scalpel. All we had to do now was to begin the cutting itself.
We both sat cross-legged on the floor of our bedroom, with our 'tools': some disinfectant, a few needles to play pierce beforehand, and some kitchen roll to mop up the blood, then we began to psych up. We were going ahead with it, that much was certain, but only at this point did we have any reservations about how much the experience was going to hurt. The though of cutting open my own skin with something as crudely sharp as what we had come up with made me sweat bullets, I was utterly convinced it was going to bloody hurt, I mean, a paper cut always nips, so what was something like this going to be like? Would I even be able to pull it off?
In light of our fears, we both decided to play pierce with just a few needles to help us get into the right frame of mind. We each pushed a couple of needles through the fleshy part of our breasts, just to get a small 'dolphy' high. Then, I got myself into position to begin, soaked my 'tool' and leg in a liberal amount of Savlon, then I slowly settled the blade onto the end of the first line, using the corner of the blade as my cutting tool. I gritted my teeth as I began to apply pressure, and with no effort at all, the blade sank in, about 1mm or so.
It was not as painful as I had expected doing the initial cuts, but it was peculiarly itchy, and it did not bleed much at first either. While there was blood, it slowly oozed out and formed into domed beads in the surface, which if left alone would eventually start to run around the side of my leg, but it was not so much that it hampered my ability to see what I was doing.
Little by little, I followed all my predrawn lines until I was done, then I had to go back over everything to try and make sure all my cuts were of the same depth (otherwise I would have an uneven, broken scar) then I had the rather difficult task of making sure all my 'v's were joined in the middle, which was hard to see due to the nature of what I was using. Ah hindsight!
After what seemed like an eternity of going back over my lines again and again and again (as it hurt significantly more that the initial cuts did) I finally decided I was finished, and kept applying pressure to the wound with an antiseptic-soaked pad of tissue, until it finally stopped bleeding, which took ages despite the fact the blood was just slowly oozing out of there.
I took a few photographs for posterity, then covered it up.
Despite my highly debatable method, which could have resulted in a lovely infected mess, it healed with no complications whatsoever. I was able to pick the first scab off by about the 5th day, using a sterile needle and I could see that my scar had turned out to be deeper in some areas than in others, and it soon became obvious after about 11 days that the deeper scabs were healing into thicker lines than the thinner ones. In other words, I had gotten lucky with my technique, but the results would have been much neater if done properly, so if you're thinking of copying me, just bare that in mind.
The only other thing to mention as far as aftercare goes is, every time I picked off the scab, I was sure to give the newly opened cuts a thorough dousing in something antiseptic (Savlon spray, in my case).
So, how did I feel afterwards? Like I'd exercised some of those demons that had been taunting me, quite tired, glad I'd chosen what I had, and glad I'd given myself at least some time to think.
Now, about 2 months later, I still feel satisfied with the results. I don't feel revulsion at what I did, I feel a sense of pride, of taking back some of the control I had felt I'd lost. I have not repeated the incident since either, which I suppose proves to me that I was not doing this for all the wrong reasons. My only concern now is that my cuts were perhaps not quite deep enough, and in time, they will fade away, but at least I will always have the memory of the event, and the sense of communion both my fiance and I felt that night as we sat side by side marking ourselves.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 14 Dec. 2002
in Scarification

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Artist: Myself
Studio: My+House
Location: Scotland

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