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Like the Phoenix...

Like so many others reading this experience, I am a cutter. I cut my arms and legs when I need relief from emotions, when I need to project hate at myself, when I need to prove to myself that I'm ALIVE--all the "usual" reasons. Talk to any cutter. With rare deviation, they will all quote the same reasons.

I began cutting on April 15th, 2003. To make a very long story short, since I was 14 it has been one of my greatest dreams to play college ice hockey, then coach hockey afterwards. Throughout high school, I played varsity hockey and practiced 4 hours per day to make this dream realized. Even during the time I wasn't on the ice, I was reading books, watching videos, etc., anything I could do to improve my ability. Besides music, hockey was my one hobby and interest in life.

During my senior year of high school, my team was invited to an exclusive tournament, at which several college scouts would be present. We won this tournament, but directly afterwards--before I'd even taken my hockey equipment off--a freak accident occurred. Without going into details, after months of physical therapy necessary after the accident, I found out on April 15th, 2003 that I can't ever play competitive hockey again. This would be bad enough, but there were several nasty rumors surrounding my accident that just...broke my heart. I won't go into them now. Suffice it to say that I've harbored a lot of bitterness about the whole situation.

Since then, cutting has been one mainstay in my life. My parents know of some of my scars, but not all. My best friend knows of some, but not all. I don't think anybody knows the extent of the cutting, or what it means to me.

I've been obsessed with the Phoenix bird since I first heard of its mythology--many years ago. I will eventually get a Phoenix tattooed, but I'm savoring planning it. On the deepest level, the Phoenix appeals to me for the same reason that it appeals to many people reading this: ...This legendary bird would rise once again from the ashes of the funeral pyre, renewed and cleansed to begin a new cycle of life... That is the essence of the Phoenix--renewed life. As trite as this sounds, I absolutely believe it holds true: no matter how many times we are crushed to the ground, filled with despair, void of hope, we can rise again. No matter who does what to us--who breaks our heart into unrecognizable pieces, who slams us to the ground again and again--we can rise. No matter what accidents life throws at us, we can rise! Like the Phoenix, we can LIVE again!

On June 8th, 2004, I cut a Phoenix into my upper thigh. It is rudimentary and crude--a basic bird shape with wings outstretched fading into flames at the bottom. On this particular night, I found out that a guy I really had a "thing" for--one of those guys you just can't help but fall in love with, even if he steps on you again and again--is in love with another girl. I ranted and raved to my best friend that this man had been leading me on for months upon months, releasing all my pent-up anger...until I realized that I had been leading myself on. "Luke", as we'll call him, hadn't been giving me any wrong ideas. I fell in love with him because of who he is--not because he felt the same way about me. Once I realized this, I felt a great weight upon my chest. I've been sad before, and I've been depressed--but have you ever had one of those nightmares that are SO realistic that you wake up unable to breathe, with lead weights physically pressing on y our chest? This is how I felt about Luke and my realization of his love for "the other girl".

I began eyeing my razor blade, but I'd resisted cutting myself for well over two months, and I didn't want to start again. However, a new idea started forming, compounded by glancing at Hans Christian Andersen's The Phoenix Bird poem tucked away in my journal. I quickly sketched up the bird and went into my basement bathroom. Cleaning the area and carefully drawing the design onto my leg, I savored the stinging, the bleeding, and the utter relief I felt of the weight being lifted off my chest with each cut.

Normally I feel guilty after cutting, but I adore my Phoenix. There was a difference between normal cutting and this. Normally, each cut I randomly make across my arm releases emotion because of what it is--a physical release of pain--but with the Phoenix, each cut provided relief because of what it stands for. It stands for everything I believe about living again, and actually proved to me what is blatantly obvious--I don't need Luke. I will get past this. With this realization, I am also slowly coming to terms with not being able to play hockey again, and the situation that surrounded that--and letting go of the bitterness.

Eventually, I hope to get the Phoenix tattooed onto my leg, right where it is. I realize that the artist will have to go over scar tissue, but I didn't cut deep enough to really hinder the tattoo--and even if I did, I'm okay with that. This tattoo will be for me, and I don't particularly care what it looks like--only its inherent meaning.

The Phoenix would sing, and the whole world stilled to listen. As the last note faded the Phoenix was consumed by fire, on its own funeral pyre. Pain, existence, and innocence were the price of that sweet farewell song. The world would then wait and hope that when the ashes cooled, this legendary bird would rise once again from the ashes of the funeral pyre, renewed and cleansed to begin a new cycle of life. The Phoenix became the symbol of immortality, spiritual rebirth and transformations.

Thank you for reading this far. Please feel free to email me with any questions/comments!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 07 July 2004
in Scarification

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Artist: Myself
Studio: My+basement
Location: Duluth%2C+MN

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