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When is Cutting Self Injury?

I used to cut myself; it's something I've always been open about even though I'm ashamed of it, mostly because I believe it's a problem that should not just be shut away and forgotten by society. I remember feeling absolutely terrible even as I ran the knife over my arm. I felt I'd let myself down, I felt I was mutilating myself. I sought help and gradually weaned myself from it, not just by treating the cutting itself (which is just a symptom of something more troubling after all) but by improving my entire mental state and outlook. I went eight months without cutting, experienced a small relapse (still nowhere near as bad as I used to be, these cuts were very light, and while they stung a few hours they weren't even deep enough to bleed) then went another seven months without cutting.

I had to ask myself. What was I now? Was I still a cutter that only rarely picked up the blade? Did I suddenly become an X-cutter after going so many months without? I wasn't sure. Objectively it seemed to me to be similar to a drug addiction. Something that, once addicted, you never truly get over but instead spend the rest of your life "recovering" from. I've relapsed twice in the past two years and each time it felt just as it did before, it grounded me and calmed me even though I didn't want to do it, and in fact hated the act.

So I was content to call myself a recovering cutter. I still sought modifications but all of them seem drastically different from my self injury, both in planning (months at the very least, as opposed to simply following an impulse), propose (the healed mod being the goal of course, not the pain felt during the procedure), and my state of mind during the procedure (always happy and excited, never depressed.) That is at least until recently...I'd spent a month planning a very simple scarification piece for my wrists. It was to be 4 dots, symbolic of crucifixion scars, that would serve to remind me to be aware of my faults and failures instead of seeking an external scapegoat. By doing this I believe that I will be more aware of every aspect of myself, and more willing to embrace myself as a whole. Given it was in such a sensitive/risky area I knew I wouldn't be able to cut too deep initially. I also knew that given it's so incredibly difficult for me to scar that I would have to recut it many times.

And so it was. I was in a very positive mood the first time I ran the scalpel over the dots I had made with a surgical marker. I overcame the pain as the blood seeped out of my body slowly. I was initially struck by how beautiful the stigmatic wounds were. The next day I irritated it, and the day after that I recut it. I continued doing this, one day irritate it, the next day cut it, for weeks, in fact I'm still continuing the process. And while early on I was incredibly happy, like most people I can be sad at times, and it didn't take long for the time for me to recut my very planned, very carefully done scarification happened to overlapped a time I was somewhat depressed. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to continue. I didn't want to fall back into a habit of self injury. But I viewed this as a very important modification to me and I couldn't simply allow it to heal over completely and not scar.

So I took the scalpel to my skin as I had so many times over the past weeks. But this time it was different. It felt like I was being pulled back inside my body, it helped calm, grounded me, like cutting myself had the years before when I just put random slashes on my arm. It felt like it could make my problems go away, and that scarred me. I felt like I found a magical place halfway between modifications as most of us understand them and self injury.

I did a lot of reflecting on it afterwards. It did seem that my cutting had become a ritual at this point. After all I was doing it like clockwork every two days, and the process of watching the blood leave my body had become just as important to me as the scars I had hoped to form in the beginning.

Once again I'm not sure what to call myself. Do I ritually cut myself? Yes. Do I regret this like before? No, of course not. I believe this is a beautiful modification/ritual for me. I can be in a wonderful mood and appreciate the aesthetics of it, or it can ease the pain when I'm feeling down. Only now, unlike before, I realize that while the cutting can make me feel better it can't end my problems so I work towards solving them in meaningful ways and I suppose that's what really matters in the end.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 05 Aug. 2004
in Scarification

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