Last week I wrote that while people who live with Self-Directed Violence (SDV) are often perceived as “sick,” “disturbed,” “manipulative,” or just plain “crazy,” (future posts will discuss what the behavioral health profession calls us)… we are not. There is always a critical reason people have for their self-harm; it always serves a purpose. Ironically, SDV can prevent death from suicide, this will be discussed in the future as well. There is so much I want to write, but I promised myself these posts would be brief and not chapters. So…
My intention for writing today was to discuss the common ground that people who live with SDV stand upon. But then I started sifting through the stacks of paper I have on most flat surfaces in my cabin. Papers with the written voices of people who have taught me so very much over the past decades. And I decided to bring one of those voices to you today. This writing expresses much of what I had wanted to say, but my words come in sentences and lists. Macabre wrote the following with brilliant, expressive eloquence. I hope you sit with these words. If they resonate with you, I hope you feel understood. If they confuse you, hang in there, until next week…
Why We Cut/Why We Don’t
We cut when the pressure inside the body is so great that if we don’t let it out we will explode. When it feels like a tire that has been over-inflated and there is no release valve, so we cut. When the other resources to let that pressure out feel like they are not going to do the trick. When the pressure makes the head feel like a balloon that is ready to burst. We cut.
We cut when the pain is so bad that nothing external can mask it. When the most potent pain medication will fail us. When it seems as if the entire world is feeling joy and the pain we feel touches the very core of our soul. When the numbing and dissociation don’t work because we have begun our healing journey and are not as adept at using those tools. We cut.
We cut when the level of frustration is so great and we have nowhere to vent it. When we become like a lost child in a maze, and we cannot find our way out. When we keep bumping into walls, and the final wall has a small blade to cut open a door to let us out. We cut.
We cut when we are scared. Scared that the secrets we told in therapy will cause death to the ones our perpetrators said they would, and we would be responsible. When we are scared that maybe we are really evil and bad as they said, and there is no way out. Scared that we will never get better. Scared that we will end up in the hospital because we are unable to cope. Scared that all these bad feelings will chase our therapist away, and she is the only one who has been there for us. Then we will be left alone. We cut.
We cut when we are angry that we have been robbed of a good portion of our lives because our perpetrators took that from us. Angry that we did not have a peaceful happy childhood. Angry that we have no happy memories of childhood. Angry that the ones who hurt us appear to be leading happier lives than us. We cut.
We cut when the voices of our perpetrators tell us to cut and we cannot screen out the sound. When they tell us that we are bad and evil and we have committed the number one sin, we told. We cut.
We cut to see if we are real. When the fog we live in is so dense that it must mean we are not in and of this world. When the numbness is so great that only a being who is not real could be feeling less. When seeing our blood is the only thing that will convince us that we do in fact really exist. We cut.
We cut when the tools we learned in therapy to not cut do not quite feel like they would work to quiet all of the above.
We do not cut to hurt others. We do not cut to get revenge. We do not cut to get attention. We do not cut because we have exhausted all other healthy reasons not to cut and cutting is our only alternative. Sometimes those healthy alternatives escape us when we reach that level of despair.
We are not perfect. We do not know all the answers. We do not always do it right. We are trying to do it differently, but sometimes the messages from inside are stronger that we are and we cut. One day there will come a time when cutting is not an option for us, but for now, as we continue on our healing journey, the pain is more than we can bear. We cut.
Not crazy. Not manipulative. Surviving. Healing.
Consider reading this again. Slowly. Out loud. A powerful healing voice has given us a gift.