Why Cut? This is from a Tokoni post I wrote back on 06/10/2009. (lol – just noticed: NOT so long ago …. hmmm.)
Cutting. How to explain? Especially to one who does not understand? The best answer I could ever come up with was “It’s like dropping a concrete block on your foot to take your mind off the pain in your heart and head.”
I started cutting back when, for lack of a better word, I went insane. Only I didn’t “go insane” – I’ve been insane for years. It’s just that I lost control of myself, my parts and pieces – and I cut for so many reasons. After all – I rarely do anything for a single reason. It usually takes several to get me motivated.*
I was about thirty-five, maybe thirty-eight, and I’d been working with other survivors of childhood sexual, mental, emotional, and physical abuse for a couple years online. Perhaps that’s what triggered it. Perhaps that’s what put the idea in my mind. It started simply – just a few shallow cuts on my wrist – but it was enough for my own professional counselor to look, throw up her hands, and pass me on to a psychiatrist. Why did I do it? Self-punishment, perhaps, for telling what had happened. Or perhaps it was something else: pain that could take my mind off the shame and grief and rage. Because being sexually abused – no, not just sexually abused, not RAPED – that would have been easier – but being a child who begged for his abuser to ‘do’ him – who got down on his knees and BEGGED – yeah, that . . . still chokes me to this day. And yeah – even now, right now – it hurts real bad to think about. And yeah, I reckon I was always hoping that I would dare – somehow take the right steps – to finally kill myself. Just cut a little deeper, a little harder, and finally strike gold – a vein or an artery that would keep on gushing, and never stop the flow.
I got to cutting bad. Not just one or two or three – no, not for me. A dozen, two dozen, fifty at a time. The inside of my left arm looks like a weed-eater and I went one-on-one – and the weed eater won. The right one (dominant arm) isn’t so bad – because that’s the hand I used to cut with.
Sometimes I would cut to see the blood. It made me know I was alive. Sometimes to feel the pain, punishing myself for my pain, punishing myself for feeling the pain, punishing myself for simply being by trying to substitute one pain for another. The “brick on the foot” syndrome. Sometimes I would get so numb inside; so ‘blocking’ of all emotion – except the pain – that this, if nothing else, made me feel. And then I would feel bad about cutting – and punish myself some more. I managed to hide it for awhile – but eventually the scabs, the rough, rough scabs – my wife would feel them on my arms in the darkness of bed. She didn’t know – didn’t want to know, I guess – what they were, but she must of guessed, for when I finally broke down and told her, she didn’t act surprised. Instead – she cried. And I went and cut myself some more for doing that to her. Making bad matters even worse.
I wore long sleeves through the summer – the long, hot humid Georgia summers. And at work I would sneak into the bathroom – and cut myself some more. My childhood issues were eating me up like a cancer; eating away at my heart and soul with the precision of a coarse toothed saw in a blind man’s hand – chewing me up on the inside – so I kept chewing myself up on the outside, trying – trying in some way to end the pain, or at least divert my mind from it. Like I said: dropping a brick on your foot to take your mind off the pain in your heart and the sickness in your soul.
Sometimes I would lose control. Sometimes I cut when it was the worst thing I could do. I cut right THERE one day, behind my six year old daughter’s back, while she was coloring on the computer. And when she turned around and saw the blood running down my arm – she asked why. She knew I was cutting; had for some time. And then she said the wisest – and also most useless thing – anyone has said to me:
“Why don’t you let it go, daddy?”
What could I tell her but the words I said: “I wish I could, honey – but it won’t let ME go.”
Calm child, she just got me some toilet paper to blot up my wounds, and went back to work on her art.** Smart child, calm child, loving child; precious to my soul.
Eventually I learned: cutting releases hormones, ‘dopamine’ – which gives a bit of a ‘high’ – thus the physical addiction. And cutting doesn’t end the pain. When the blood is blotted, the scars have healed – the pain in your heart still remains. The things that drove you to it: they are still there, the demons from the past. And they rejoice in what you do, knowing that they have won, are winning.
A terrible thing to be, a cutter out of control.
I should know. I’ve been there, done that – and like any addict, once you’ve been there – the temptation is always there, always lurking in the back of your mind.
I resist the temptation. I had to resist it today, and I have to resist it sometimes when I write the stories about the ‘bad times’. I’ve had to resist it a lot lately, but resist it I do. Because dropping that brick on my foot? It never did any good, because when you’re done – the pain still remains. Sometimes you’re better off dealing with the demons in your heart and head, the sadness in your soul – than hurting yourself. It’s a tougher battle, to be sure, but one you can never win through cutting. And I’d like to think I’m tougher than that, those demons I have inside.
Cutting – that’s what the demons of pain and anguish, grief and despair want you to do.
And I refuse to let them win.
And now; June 2011. I think ‘I’ and we have stopped cutting period; we are hoping; the temptation gets right bad sometimes … thinking on it…
But there’s also times of deep depression that ‘comes out of nowhere’ meaning my inner beings (one of them is called Matthew) who’s pain is bad; ranges from about … gee, I dunno. It doesn’t matter ‘who’ or ‘what they are called, ya know; what matters is what they are feelin’.
I and we have been struggling every day with suicidal (stupid) impulses knowing them for what they are who and how and why and same with the cutting and it is an ‘easy to fight kinda thing’ and yet the cutting issue has grown hard(er) and yet we go on fighting it. Thus far … o’tay; on the tipping balance board sometimes but even that one is okay as long as we don’t go down that slippery slided slope; the one all covered in someone’s blood (lol’ing here; a bit of dry humor … trust me; grim humor can help someone’s sometimes, Lol’ing.)
But every day is a new day and so we all hang on … dealing with the impulses, recognizing them and the being’s pain. We do dearly love him (our inner one; and all our ‘selves’ (for the most part) – but have recognized that some, including our friend Matthew, doesn’t love his own self**!. Only the ones ‘around’ him.
**! – Glad we found that out. (as in ‘just NOW’, duh! Ain’t that what this writing is FOR??? Journaling my and our little hearts on out? LOL’ing going on. Significant discovery and game on … something ELSE to go thinking about! LOL’ing.)
*“It usually takes several to get me motivated.” refers to not only events and/or reasons; but a ‘majority vote’ as well in some instances. When we get under emotional stressors and things … things can fall apart (and that makes us sad … which can feed such behavior; resulting in a ‘program loops’ without no end … except one, which we won’t mention here.) Or, more commonly, during a ‘system crashing’ type of event just ‘one’ kind of personality takes control … usually one of the ‘stronger’ ones (eg. our former controller friend, Matthew my man) – who is terribly depressed and into cutting and things.
** while we regret she found out, we know it made her more gentle and understanding of others; especially towards those in pain – and eventually it gave her the ‘hardness’ needed to go on to pursue rescuing someone; one of the few female firefighters I know. So perhaps this is the golden side of the coin.)