I started cutting the summer after my freshman year of high school. It was about a boy. It wasn’t “for” me. It wasn’t healthy. It quickly spiraled out of control as it became the only thing I could control. With a pretty big cutting and self harm/body modification culture at my high school, it was easy to get wrapped up in it. My sophomore year, I was sent to a residential Gestalt therapy center in Georgetown, CO where I spent two months backpacking across the country trying to delve into my issues. Long story short, it didn’t work. My cutting got significantly worse.
However, (and this is the important part), over the last four years, my relationship to my cutting has changed dramatically. I was able to take control of it and master it. And, no, that doesn’t mean I stopped. It means that my cutting is a choice, and one that I feel is currently healthy for me. Someday, maybe I’ll change my mind. Someday, maybe I’ll abuse it again and it will become unsafe. Right now, its place in my life is similar to some peoples’ glass of wine with dinner; venting to a friend; working out really hard. It is (one of) my art forms, on a canvas that unendingly heals clean, ready for another piece of expression to come to life. In other words, it’s a method of self-care that is healthy and safe. And, just like all of the other methods, it can only be used safely in moderation and in control. It is a balance, and one that I walk every day.
This isn’t a story I’m insecure with. My insecurity comes from the automatic stigma attached to cutting. I have never had someone see my scars (or fresh cuts) and assume I think they are beautiful, or that I am happy, or that they are a good thing. They are fundamentally associated with depression, suicide, and unhealthy behavior. Just check out the term used to describe them and the tag Steve has my picture under: self harm. But I don’t see them that way. The insecurity I have is with the judgments people make about me based on my scars because of social stigma. It’s both unfair and inaccurate. Yes, cutting can be scary, addictive, and dangerous, and it is absolutely necessary for friends of cutters to watch for signs of an unhealthy purpose. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is my hope that in the future the stigma attached to cutting, the stigma of it is a disorder, as self harm, and as inalienably unhealthy, will dissipate. Cutting will be considered on an individual basis and understood to be a choice. I won’t be a cutter, but someone who cuts.
My cutting does not define me, but it is a part of me. A part of me that I love, a part of me that I’m proud of, and a part of me that is beautiful.