|I was depressed. I was lonely. I was
poor. I hated myself and I wanted to hurt myself. So I
did. I got a kinfe from the kitchen and sat in the bath
slowly and methodically rubbing the sharp edge of the
knife over my wrist. It was dull and I got frustrated
after I saw that I wasn't bleeding after ten minutes or
so. So I broke open one of my flatmate's razors and used
that instead. Finally a little bit of blood trickled down
my hand, and then a bit more, and then a bit more... it
never really gushed.. just a steady trickle... then I got
out of the bath and threw up.
Now you're wondering why I did it, and why the next morning I got up and cut myself another five times.. and why the next day I cut myself so deep that I have a long thick red scar on my upper left arm, and then why I decided I had better stop cutting myself where people could see, and so I started on my legs... and why I became addicted to hurting myself... Why I became hysterical when I couldn't find my razor blade and why I just couldn't stop.. and why even now I battle against the desire to cut myself up or beat myself up (and still do it), when I only end up hating myself more, because by hurting myself I'm hurting my boyfriend and whoever else cares and stuff like that...
This wasn't the first time I had hurt myself. I had tried to commit suicide several times before, well, once really, and then after I discovered that taking whole packets of painkillers did nothing but leave you with a massive hangover in the morning, it just became routine... although each time I would take more and more just to see if it would do something. This time it was not a suicide attempt though. I did not want to die, not yet anyway, and besides, I have my suicide meticulously planned, so when I do decide to do it I won't fuck it up.
When I took a blade and ripped it across my skin, it wasn't to kill myself. It was to cause myself pain. It was to punish myself for being the self-pitying and totally hopeless bitch I was, and sometimes still am, convinced I was. It was to make myself suffer for making everybody else's life, who I touched in some way, utterly miserable. It was to hurt myself just for the sake of hurting myself.. to watch the blood gush out of my arm because I didn't feel that real anymore... and maybe, if I saw that, it would reaffirm that I am.
Do you understand what I mean? Unless you do it yourself I don't think it's really possible to...
It was kinda hard to hide what I was doing. My wrists were scabby and sliced up, as were my arms, and because it was Summer, I couldn't get away with wearing long sleeves all the time. When I told a close friend of mine what I had done, she told me that she had done it to herself as well.. that she used to burn herself, cut herself and whatever else.. and the reason she had done it was because she wanted the attention of some girl, because she was depressed and didn't know what else to do, and because she was totally fucked up at the time.. but she understood why I did it, and that was amazing.. because people everywhere were telling me that I was a masochist, and that I was stupid, and that I only did it because I hated them... whatever... it had nothing to do with any of those reasons, and it was totally selfish of them to even think that.
The scary thing about it was that I had tried to cut myself before, but had never been able to go through with it. I was so strong now.. you know? If I could destroy myself little by little like this, what else was I capable of? The thing was, that it didn't even hurt while I was doing it. And if it did hurt it made me just want to do it all the more, to see how much pain I could bear - to see how long I could endure this kind of agony. Ok, so it hurt like hell an hour or so afterwards.. but that was the point wasn't it? the pain? I don't know.
It was also a kind of big FUCK YOU to everyone. It was like, see what I've done to myself? and guess what, everyone in the world! The reason I did it was because of you! Because noone out there cares enough about me to see what I'm doing to myself and noone cares enought out there to stop me...
Even though I knew none of that was true... .
I was taken to the doctor's at one point to have my wounds treated. Later the same day I was sent to counselling, to see what psychiatric treatment I needed, since the doctor just automatically assumed I was suicidal, and that I was insane or whatever. I was then seen by a psychiatrist several times after that, until I came to the United States. Seeing the psychiatrist was the worst thing I could have done, I now believe. He only made me feel more fucked up and more mentally off balance than I am, or was. It didn't help.
Since that point in time I've met so many other women, who I admire and look up to and see as totally powerful and strong, who are doing the same things I'm doing. So now I'm trying to figure out why so many women are taking razorblades or other sharp edges to their skin and drawing blood, or burning themselves - making scars. Why are we indulging in this self-mutilation?
Well.. that answer is rather simple.. because we're feeling such immense emotional pain that the physical pain is nothing.. if anything, it can even relieve it for a time... and so often that emotional pain stems from self-hatred and the feeling that we're not good enough.
This leads to another question...Why do young women (because this is prevaluent amongs women under 25 and over 13) hate themselves so much that they feel the need to harm themselves, even destroy themselves in such a way???
There are certain messages that are bombarding us from the time that we are born. These messages we subconsciously accept and they become a part of our reasoning. It is from these messages that we learn how we are 'supposed' to be, what is considered 'good', what is 'bad', what's 'pretty', what's 'ugly', and anything else you can think of.
Many of these messages revolve around gender, and can be as subtle as colour, or as blatant as rulse. For example, it is constantly affirmed that blue is for boys and pink is for girls. If a baby is dressed in blue it will be assumed that he is a boy, if dressed in pink, a girl. Toys made specifically for girsl are coloured in pastels, with pink being a predominate colour. Toys made specifically for boys are coloured in bright, strong colours like red and bright yellow, with the predominate colour being blue. This is so much the case that if a little girl was to choose between a toy coloured in 'girl' colours and a toy coloured in 'boy' colours, she would generally choose the 'girl' coloured one. Through these messages that impressionable children readily absorb, we are defining the gender of the child, the actions of the child, and the way in which the child will react to certain things, define things and define her or himself.
When we look at the messages this society gives out about women, and the method in which girls, growing up, accept and internalize these messages, it is easy to see why so many women have feelings that they are not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough or whatever. We are barraged with images of barbie dolls, and women that look like them. Because of this, both men and women have been socialized to believe that this is the 'ideal woman'. Women will kill themselves trying to live up to that image, or trying to gain it in the first place (as can be seen from the prevalence of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders), and men will think that that is exactly what they are looking for in a partner, and that nothing else will ever be as good.
Not only that, but we are told subliminally that men are still seen as the superior sex, no matter what feminism has achieved, and women are still treated as second class citizens. (Why else do we earn only seventy cents of the dollar that men as a group ear?? And why else are there only very small numbers of women holding executive positions? and why are there so few women judges and leaders in general? Women are still discriminated in the workplace on the basis of sex. Women are still seen as slaves of the home? Why else do even working women still shoulder 80% of the household chores?). Women are still seen as prizes for men to take and possess. So we are brought up in a society that will tell us we're wrong and bad, and we're meant to be well-adjusted, happy and have high self-esteem?
Maybe these messages telling us how inadequate we are, and how society hates us so, has some effect on us. Just maybe it might make us hate ourselves. And maybe then, when we're feeling so lw, so empty and so dirty, we're going to try to punish ourselves for being that way. We're going to try to destroy ourselves slowly. We're going to cut ourselves and burn ourselves and do whatever it takes to make us feel real and good and tangible again.
So the general theory amongst academia is that women who have suffered childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, are more likely to indulge in self-mutilation during their youth and early adulthood. And women who are dissociated as a result of these things, or others, such as drug or alcohol abuse, or if they are 'psychologically disturbed', are even more likely to. Due to this, these women feel numb, not real, and can't experience things totally, or really feel anything at all. And so we cut ourselves to make us feel something, to make sure we're still alive, and to make sure that we are real live human beings with flesh and blood.
We hurt ourselves because we like to experience pain. It turns us on, gives us a thrill... whatever.
We are simply hurting. We all have our various reasons, none of them may have anything to do with the above. We are just angry with ourselves and our lives, we feel bad and sad and whatever else, and because we're so often told that we're not allowed to get angry, the only way we can show the anger and the hurt is by self-mutilation.
I don't know. When I don't know why I really do it myself, how can I speak for an entire generation of women who are doing this? Think about it. Think of some of your own theories. And don't feel alone - because you're not.