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Understanding in a Car Crash

You probably didn't know (in fact, I'm sure you didn't) but I've been a cutter for the last three years or so. I never really thought that I was "bad". I'd seen friends with line after line of self-inflicted cuts up their arms; I'd read that angsty teenage poetry about sliding a razor across your wrist and watching the crimson blood splash on the bathroom floor. Neither of those were me, but still, I cut. It started right before my senior year of high school.

Towards the end of the semester, a girl in our class was killed in a car crash halfway through the school day. A teacher across the hall told our class, but said they would be making an announcement later. I hadn't known Mehgan very well, but she was my friend Jessica's best friend. I didn't want her to find out Mehgan was dead from an announcement. I got a pass and slipped down to her math class. The office had obviously thought of this too, and had just sent someone down to get her. We walked back to the office, where I ended up being the one to break the news to her that her best friend was dead. An hour later, the school ground to a halt as they made the announcement and nearly everyone in our class went into hysterics.

It was later that summer; I had been to the funeral and was trying to put it out of my head. I remember thinking one day: "I wonder what happened to Eric." My buddy Eric and I had been pretty close since I'd moved to the area in fourth grade, up through freshman year. After that, he went to a different school and we lost touch. Offhand, I was wondering about him. I found out later that week that he and his friend had been in a car crash at the exact moment his name had happened to flit across my consciousness. He had died instantly. I never got to go to his funeral; I don't even know where he's buried.

So yes, one day, after all of that, I took my little brother's pocket knife and was just "checking out the blade" when I went a little too far and saw a few red droplets form on my wrist. I kept that up for a while, but it was mild at best. I'd make one cut, maybe two, along my right arm (I'm left handed), and not do another one for weeks or months. When I look back at my journal from that time in my life, I'm kind of disgusted at what a angsty and impossible brat I was being. But soon enough I recovered from my losses and went on with life.

Cutting still followed me, though. It wasn't the same. I no longer cut when I was depressed. I kept a knife in the drawer in my head board, and sometimes I'd just get the urge to cut myself anyway, even when I was in a perfectly good mood. I didn't understand, and it didn't seem right. Why was I hurting myself when I was happy? I started reviewing on BME, and truthfully, was a little annoyed at some of the cutting experiences I read. Shame on me, I was unjustly judgmental, but it didn't really seem like they were "modifying", just hurting themselves to no point.

Suddenly it clicked. Modification. That's why I had continued to cut when I wasn't depressed, because I had an urge to modify myself. As this realization washed over me while I was in the shower, I decided that I needed something to solidify this new discovery. I hadn't cut in months, but I wanted to etch a design into my skin to prove to myself that I had a reason behind what I did. What should I cut? A star? No, too cliche. Besides, I already have a star tattoo. I decided to cut a spiral, which in my path signifies the flow of life, and the path of fate. Appropriate. I eagerly began to look for a space on my skin to put the design, and decided on my right hip.

I washed my hands and the area on my hip extra carefully with antibacterial soap, and then got out of the shower. I got the knife out of my drawer and washed it too. I knew it was kind of dull, and thought for a minute about finding a different knife, but I could only find serrated ones in the kitchen, so I dropped that plan. I rubbed antiseptic cleaner over my hip and lay on my bed with a pen, trying to draw out a spiral. I drew a couple, but they didn't look right. I also had some fears in the back of my mind about getting regular pen ink into an open wound. So I chose instead to draw a box around the area I wanted my cutting, and try it freehand. I was still worried about the cleanliness and sterility of everything, and I suggest that you don't do what I did or risk infection and other complications.

I pressed the knife into my skin and drew a short section of the spiral. It stung but I didn't see any blood or marks of any kind. I tried again, pressing harder. I still didn't see anything. I got frustrated and put the knife back into my drawer, figuring I'd buy different supplies and try a different day. But when I went to stand up and get dressed, I noticed that I could see a red pattern where I had cut. More of a scrape than a deep cut, but that's usually how my cuts were. I pulled the knife back out and continued to cut, waiting a minute between each stroke of the blade to let the red pattern show itself. My spiral wasn't perfect, but I thought it was pretty good for a freehand design. When I finished, I went over it again, pulling the skin taut with my other hand and cutting. Finally I saw blood in a few places, but I knew from previous cuts that my design would stay anyway.

I stood up and admired my work. I liked it. I washed the wound again with saline solution and got dressed. The next day, it was scabbing over, but I know it's not deep and I hope it will heal with minimal scarring. I guess you might say that this is a temporary mod. I might have the design tattooed later, but I just wanted to prove to myself that there was a reason behind what I did. I know I'll never cut again, now that I understand myself better, but I also know that in a way, I'll always be a cutter, and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 29 July 2004
in Scarification

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Artist: Myself
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Location: Macomb+Township%2C+Michigan

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