Friday, 13 November 2009

Razors and Release.

I have so many words but feel overwhelmed at the idea of trying to piece them together. They swell and tumble, a disparate wave of words and feeling. The wave itself a spectrum of sensation, utterly numb at the base, raw at the breaking crest.

If I could somehow figure out what is going on to cause this level of desperation I might have a hope in hell of controlling it.
These last few days, well... weeks really... I have been fighting (and, shamefully, frequently losing) a battle against the urges and the desires I have to hurt myself in whatever way I can.
Self harm.
Controversial. Taboo. Disgusting. Shameful. Painful. Desperate.
And yet, comforting. Releasing. Soothing. Calming. Cleansing.

A paradox and a half.

There are so many different perspectives on self harm that it's hard to keep up.
"Attention seeking" is the label that is possibly the most damning and the most hurtful to those who have to exert such incredible control by resisting the urge to just let rip on themselves. Instead they have to confine the screaming of their stories to such small areas of the body, the most hidden parts.

Tonight, just as many nights this week and the week before that, I stand on the brink of my own desperation to destroy. I fight from a part whose objections I repeatedly overrule, even as it reminds me and warns me of the physical pain I will be faced with when I trample over its defeated form in the rush to reach the razor.

People self harm for a wide variety of reasons and certainly, nowadays with the youth heavily influenced by 'emo' culture and the like, it is quite common; a disturbing trend borne, it would seem, out of a search for identity. Whatever happened to clothing being the defining feature in "teen stereotypes"? It's no defined by the number and depth of the cuts on a wrist.
I digress.
For me as an adult, it's primarily either a release of anger, a punishment if I feel let down, a purging of feelings that I can't hold in, or a response to uncontainable self hatred.

True, I started cutting as a teenager. I was fourteen and unable to speak about the fact that my sister was starving herself to death. Faced with the reactionless faces of my parents, the point blank denials that anything was wrong, and the stinging discipline that met she who dared to contradict; the pain started to spill out in secret ways using a different language. A language of pain which doesn't need to be heard to bring relief, only to be spoken.

At first, it wasn't as good as being able to talk to a grown up, but it made the clamour inside me quieter, and came to be far more effective, and practical, than needing anyone.

Great, you think.
That was THEN. This is NOW.
My past is not my present.

And yet, something died in me back then that I miss in my present.
It wasn't my sister, although I no longer know her, so in some ways, perhaps she was the greatest loss of all. But something in me died and I can't revive it.
Maybe that is what therapy is for. To resurrect what is dead.

I am ashamed to admit that my mind feels invaded with fantasies of what I will do to hurt myself.
Goodness knows if you knew me in real life you wouldn't see a shadow of a ghost of a trace of the truth that I am someone who would ever imagine such fantasies, let alone indulge them.

I sound vaguely like a psycho but you'll just have to take my word for it that I'm the smiley girl you pass on the way to work. I'm your kid's favourite teacher. I'm the one who you come to when you need someone to listen and understand. I'm the one who you can count on to write a list of your problems and work out how you can tackle them in a way that feels manageable and is realistic.

It defies my own understanding then, that that same smiley, logical, responsible empathic, problem solver who is relied on by so many can be so consumed by such a desperate desire to violate her own body.
I'll spare you the details.


  1. Hi-
    Your skill in writing is amazing - I hang on your every word. I trust the writing helps - or you would not indulge. Perhaps this is an outlet - try and think of it as such for now.

    I am so sorry about your sister, I am honored to even know of your pain and desires to resolve such pain. I can only offer to absorb some of your pain - by reading your every word and believing you - to tell you that by writing about your desire to self harm that you are sharing and therefore you are not alone.
    I am sending you love

  2. Where is my core - how do I reach my heart's call - is there something more within - how can it be released - how can it be known, felt, experienced - and so I seek in ways that may defy reason, to release, to end the unknowing, and chose pain to beget pain - and ask Who am I, What am I, Why am I? Twenty six years ago cancer was the pain - and then I had to know. Cancer was and is but another "self harm." The body devouring itself until its life is consumed. CANCER NO MORE! FREE! WELL! HAPPY! And the I newly introduced to the Me. I hear your words. I live their meaning. I am truly listening.

  3. I don't believe you can ever cut deep enough or long enough to find that which resides at your core. May you remember the love that you are, may you come to remember the power that you wield, for it is this remembrance that you will make the cutting, the self inflicted harm no longer a desire. Love to you!

  4. It has been my experience that when my present is very difficult - much more than is warrented by circumstances - it is because I am reacting to the past. I can see that you know this is what's happening to you, right now.
    For me, I had to go through the darkest memories, deal with all the anger and grief and pain... and then, finally, I could come out the other side. Today, I really am able to deal with what's happening right now... without the past distorting reality.

    I hope you have a really good relationship with your therapist and can trust enough to go through the darkness because the light on the other side is really worth it. I promise.

  5. I wanted to say thank you for your responses.
    I expected to be met with disgust... so.. thanks.

    Gail - Dear Gail... As always... Thank you for your listening.
    I'm glad you understand about writing and the ways in it might help.
    My therapist suggested writing it down when I wanted to harm and bring it it to her. i haven'tbeen able to show her anything I write yet, but am hoping that writing may, in some small way, help a little.
    I'm glad you know it's not just for the sake of wallowing, though it is my fear that people will interpret it as such. x

    Rose Marie - Again, your words are heavy wit beauty and with understanding.
    I'm so sorry to hear about the cancer. I can't begin to imagine just how painful that must have been. I very much appreciated your insight about choosing pain to beget pain. I don't know how it is that pain can soothe.
    Thank you for "truely listening". x

    Mark - I was really quite struck by your words about not being able to get to what's at the core...I get the idea that love should be the answer... I just dont get how to make it work. It feels a bit... swamped!
    Thanks Mark. Your words are always thoughtful and wise. x


    Shen - Your encouragement is so much appreciated. thank you for somehow knowing. Thank you for sharing a little of your experience here. I'm glad you feel more able to deal with what's happening in the now but I get it that you had to go through the other stuff to get there.
    It's a tough journey. I admire your bravery in getting to now.
    I will try to think of that promise. x

  6. Cutting, seeing the blood helped me stay in control....control of the rage, the fear, the shame...yes the professionals with all their wisdom called it attention seeking and even tied me to the bed a few times to control me. That enraged me and forced me to cut more. For me, learning to voice what I couldn't, say the words...speak the unspeakable....helped me to slowly begin to let go of punishing myself for what I never had control over. Hang in there. Sarah