- Lunaescence Catharsis
- Addicted to Pain
I noticed a cut on my forearm today. I don’t know how I got it. It didn’t and doesn’t hurt now. It’s fairly recent because the blood is still a bright red and there’s just the smallest bit of swelling around it. There’s nothing striking about this otherwise miniscule, random cut.
Except for the fact that it lies on an ex-cutter’s arm, inches above her last, deepest scars.
“Happy-sad.” As Above & Beyond quotes, referencing their song On A Good Day, “It’s a story of triumph and adversity and I think people turn to music when, when, they’re lives are not--is not so great.”
Is what I hear from Marcie Joy’s Behind the Lyric as I notice this small, insignificant cut.
Immediately, the longing to tear into my skin with one of my favourite blades--unused and probably rusted with blood now--rushes over me. But the knife as I remember it is shiny and glinting with the most beautiful shade of life. In its prime.
I used to do it because it alleviated the pain. Made me able to handle the day, the shit, made me feel like flying. Like there was some part of this world that was mine and I held this secret in my blood. There was no pain when you were watching the beautiful secrets of life ooze out of the finest hairline cuts and the deepest, boldest gashes.
I traced the largest cut on my forearm with a finger. It’s lighter than the rest of my skin, and stretching because of the angle that it’s at. I remember why I did it. I hardly remember the stories behind the hundreds of scars on my body. Oddly, I don’t think they’re ugly or disfiguring. They’re just there, like a bunch of line-birthmarks. They’re a part of me and I don’t really care how it looks.
But I remember how pretty they used to look. How lovely they used to hurt.
I’ve been “clean” for about two years now. I’ve had multiple relapses along the way. It’s been seven years since the very first time I started this “hurt-therapy.” I wouldn’t say I regret it, because I don’t. I may even choose to make the same “mistake” if I had the choice to do it over again. It builds character, or whatever people think.
For me, it may even be a bit of a kink. I wouldn’t mind being cut by someone else, intentionally and out of love. Someone who understands just what it means and can do it with all the meaning in the world. But that’s saved for another day, when I get over the rest of the hurdles that I have yet to tackle.
Even though there’s no real need to cut, there’s the memory of it. You remember the good things, not how hard it was to rip and claw your way out of the hole you dug yourself in deeper and deeper. No, I remember the knife biting so sweetly. Mopping the blood up with tissues, spreading it with the edge of the knife. Tasting it when I felt morbid enough. Loving the bright colours against my arm, loving the tenderness of the healing cut.
That’s what I remember when I see this tiny scratch and feel like taking the smallest blade and extending it. I fight it and fighting it is the equivalent of saying “no” to the most gorgeous and decadent chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen, all because you’re watching your weight when it’s really not a problem.
But there are days. Days when everything just seems like it could be so much better than cotton-candy and excellent highs from laughing with friends and a stunning future because finals were terrifically easy. Days when I can still feel the cool bite of the knife in my skin, feel the warm sticky blood over my hands, legs, arms, everywhere.
I remember listening to Red, screaming in my ear about all the things gone wrong and how God had saved them. God; I laughed, I cried. God had abandoned me. Oh, but his angels were begging me to stop before I pushed the blade too deep.
Call it creative, call it insanity. I had angels. They beckoned me to stop. They watched my blood mix with their tears. And why should anyone who has angels crying for them feel like they have to cut?
My angels were my martyrs. They did everything, but I abused them. They’re gone now. I don’t cut anymore so I don’t reach emotional insanity to talk to them.
These cuts. These scars.
I didn’t get therapy and I’m goddamn proud of it. I made a conscious decision to stop. And it’s not that easy as saying, “Sure. I’ll stop today or tomorrow.” No, because you don’t. You relapse and then get sad and feel pathetic. My decision was based on the fact that I can’t feel sorry for myself forever. I don’t want to be in my forties, still cutting because I can’t deal with life the way I ought to.
I used to cut. And it used to feel damn good.
Therapy would’ve made me replace cutting with some other non-destructive outlet for my pain. I don’t need something else, I didn’t need something else. I needed coping mechanisms and an attitude change. Not everyone was out to get me, or make me feel bad and the people who were, were sad and lonely and not worthy of me or my time. They weren’t worth my blood.
And in a way, neither am I. Who am I to bleed and pity myself when there are people actually suffering in the world? What is my pain compared to theirs, to anyone’s? I owe it to myself and to them to make the most of what I have instead of carving myself up with a blade. I ought to have been strong then and I plan to make up for my weakness then with Ã¼ber-strength now.
Happy. The best I could’ve been on a good day would never compare to the day that I finally realized that I didn’t need cutting anymore. I was free of being bound to bleeding for release. There are times, sometimes, I just think of the act and it makes me feel better. There are times I think of it and I feel sick. It seems perverse to willingly harm yourself. It gives me shivers to think that I used to do that, good shivers and bad ones.
The first one doesn’t do it. But the second sure does.
My relapse occurred three years after I had started and one after I had given it up. As long as this is candid, I’ll be free to say that it was the company I had. A fellow cutter dragged me back into the habit. Oh, of course not intentionally. The choice was mine to pick up new blades and slice a bit of life away. But it would’ve been much less appealing if I hadn’t seen and been reminded of just how good it felt to push a blade deep in and watch the blood come rushing out to greet me.
Getting out of that three-year long relapse was hell. I went through some of my darkest times then and I’m wiser and sadder for it. It feels stupid and silly now. What I really miss are my angels and the post-cut high before the crash. Or the scary neutrality of never feeling guilty about it. No, wait. No, I don’t miss that. Though, that’s what made me get reality in check.
When people grab your arm or jostle your leg that had fresh cuts on it, it stings. You’re reminded of how stupid it was to cut. Or, if you reach the point I was at, you just feel annoyed and find another reason to add to it. The numbness is devastating and the emotionality is reassuring once you find your way.
I’ve done well to be good for a while now. I’m four months shy of two years, and I’m happy.
There’s something I never thought I’d say.
I hope it’s not a clichÃ© story about cutters or cutting or addicts or whatever. Maybe it’s given you a little insight to the mind of someone you know who’s just a bit like me. More than anything, it’s been a healing process for me; to discuss it and post it for everyone to see. Lunaescence is a caring community and though I’m nervous about being this open, I’m not afraid.
My hope now is to see other’s stories of struggle or triumph (or both!), it’s a catharsis and we’re all a part of it!