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How one word can mean so much more than it seems...

When I was in elementary school, towards my grade 7 and 8 years, I looked like your average, wannabe-rebellious pre-teen kid. Black hair, black nail polish, NIN patch on my backpack. Complete loner. If you saw my upper arm, you'd think that even more so of me. Scrawled across my upper left arm, the word HATE in capital letters.

An unknowing person might just smirk and think that I perhaps thought it would be a cool, "punk" thing to do, maybe I was trying to appear tough, or maybe I thought it would look cool.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, but I never bothered explaining it to anyone. To do so might just require writing a whole article. Now it's four in the morning and I can't sleep so I've decided to do just that. Open up for the first time and let the world know why I've got the scars I have.

For one thing, I didn't exactly have the world's happiest childhood. I've suffered from anxiety, depression and agorophobia for as long as I can remember, and that went untreated up until a year ago. Forced to deal with mental illness on my own, without the aid of counseling or medication, I turned to other means of coping. Industrial music, writing poetry, and self injury.

Now the reason for the word HATE...

Somehow in grade 7 or grade 8, despite the fact that I was a complete loner, I managed to befriend the most beautiful, preppy, popular girl I had ever met. We were complete opposites, but we had this wonderful relationship and became best friends ever. Until, of course, I realized something. I was falling in love with her.

This is important for two reasons. One is that at the time I was VERY involved with Christianity, and the church I was involved in did NOT approve of homosexuality. So for the first time in my life, I felt like I had no goal. No matter what I did with my life, I felt it wouldn't matter in the end. Because no matter what, I was headed to hell. The other thing is that upon confiding my feelings to my friend one day, she freaked out and I never heard from her again.

I was crushed, you could say.

Everything at that time in my life seemed to revolve around hate. God hated me for being gay, my friends hated me for it, I hated not being able to tell me family, I hated god for hating me, I hated myself for being hated. Hate was everywhere.

Somehow it seemed like the cause AND answer to my problems. At least if I hated god, I could go to hell for something more than just being a lesbian. And maybe if I hated women instead of falling in love with them, life wouldn't present so much problems.

Like I said, hate was everywhere. Something inside me needed to feel it 24 hours a day. I needed to manifest this emotion somehow, make it into something tangible, make it into a constant reminder of what I needed. I had never heard of anyone cutting themselves before, but it only seemed natural when I took a sewing needle and started to carve out the letters for "HATE" into my arm.

Having a word carved into one's arm, especially a word like hate, can be a bit of a problem at times. I always wore long sleeves no matter what. The scars made me a bit of an oddity with the girls in the change room for my gym class. But I never bothered explaining the emotional turmoil I was fighting with. I'm sure there was gossip going around, but no one ever bothered me about the scars.

The year I carved hate into my arm was one of my darkest ones though. I don't remember most of that year or the following year, except occasionally when I get flashbacks that leave me crying and sleepless. But I do remember random events. Like the day my brother punched me in the arm as hard as he could. No words could ever explain the physical pain I felt then...it seemed to shoot from my arm and into my entire being. It was the most horrible pain ever, and perhaps one of the cruelest things my brother has done to me. My mother saw the scars one day, quite by accident I suppose, and she threatened that if I ever cut myself again, she would send me to a place where I could not do that again. I became terrified after that and for years I didn't seek out help for my depression because I thought I would be locked in a hospital ward for life. After that, whenever I needed to SI, I'd pick a less obvious means, like burning myself with a candle.

After that, I continued to feel hate. I eventually gave up on Christianity and explored other religions until I ended up settling on just being spiritual without having any organized religion. But without some divine law stating I'd go to hell for loving...I found myself starting to fall in love again. As I entered high school and developed crushes, and developed more confidence in my friendships, I began to tell people I was a lesbian, and no one ever treated me as severely as that first friend I came out to. I even started dating.

Depression is still a problem for me. I take medication to cope with it now. The scars on my arm have faded to a very light colour and I can barely make them out. But I know it's there. It still aches when I get upset. I guess it's just psychosomatic.

So why do I have scars shaped like hate?

Hate is where I come from. Hate is an entire period of my life. Hate is what I've overcome to get to where I am.

I'm not the least bit ashamed of my scars. I'm learning not to be ashamed of my emotions. I shouldn't be ashamed to love just because I love other girls. I shouldn't be ashamed to hate just because people think it's too strong of a word. My emotions are mine and as valid as anyone else's. And my scars are a constant reminder of that. They remind me of my emotions. They remind me of how strong I am.

Now that it's fading, I am considering getting it recut, perhaps professionally this time. But this time I may also get "Love" for my other arm. I'll welcome the balance it will bring.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 Jan. 2002
in Ritual

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Artist: Myself.
Studio: My+room.
Location: Canada

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