“Seek professional help…”

“You do WHAT???”  “You Cut yourself?  Burn yourself?  Punch yourself?”  “YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP!”

Does anyone disagree that the above sentences are the most common responses heard when self-injury is uncovered or disclosed?  Self-directed violence (SDV) is upsetting to many, we can understand why.  I don’t expect most people to initially want to understand the purposes SDV serves.  When people are faced with what they do not understand, and are frightened and/or repulsed, they want to make the problem “go away.”  And it seems easiest to send us off to the “professional.”

If “professional” means the expert, then let’s consider who is expert.  There are persons with degrees, licenses, and advanced education in biopsychiatric beliefs that are most often empowered to be the professionals we are sent to.  There are stacks of books and journal articles that theorize about the disorders that cause SDV, and just as many varied treatment approaches to reduce or eliminate this “symptom” or “pathological behavior.” We will explore many of these in the weeks to come.

Yet what of the person who struggles with SDV themselves?  What is their expertise?  What can someone who has “lived experience” offer another?  The reason The Cutting Edge newsletter was created so many years ago was to create a safe space for people living with self-injury to express themselves and bear witness to others sharing similar experiences.  It is these people who gave me the wisdom and hope that I share today.  And so, throughout the remainder of this week, I will be posting some of their words to bring them to life here, to share their expertise…

And if the web site is temporarily muddled please be patient with me.  I have already inadvertently deleted this post several times!  My skills are improving, but still laughable.  In the meantime, I am very interested in your thoughts about who the experts are when it comes to understanding self-harm.

Lastly, a few words from one of the experts in my life:

After a storm there are puddles left.
After a fire there are ashes left.
After SIV there are scars left.
How do you deal with them?
Do you hide them?
Do you wear them fiercely as warrior marks? Not caring who sees them?
Do you make them yours?
…”Oh I took part in a Sun Dance ceremony during my native days”
Do you make them others?
…”Oh I lived in Africa and was scarred to make my pale skin strong”
Do you lie?
…”Oh it was a car accident a few years ago”
Do you tell a partial truth?
…”Oh it happened so long ago I don’t remember”
Do you tell the whole truth?
…”Oh I’m a self-mutilator”
How do you decide who gets to know and who needs to stay in the dark?
Do you have days when you don’t see them? And days when that is all you see?
Do you have days they shame you? And days they empower you?
Do you have the perfect lie to tell children?
…”Oh when I was a little girl, no one told me not to play with matches”
Do you ever look at them as if they were a puzzle and think:
…”Oh if I just fill in this space here, it will all make sense”
Do you?
I do.



Please check back to the web site for more unless I accidentally blow it up!

All the best,



Shortest poem ever published…

I hurt so much

I bleed.

                               Robin et al

Thinking about this, the first post of the year, I considered writing about some of the most powerful resources I have found over the years for people living with self-directed violence (SDV).  In some ways, over the past decades there has been an increase in the understanding of why people self-harm.  Yet upon reflection I feel sorrow that progress has been achingly slow and uneven.  Isn’t that is why I’ve rebirthed this site?  Yes.

After digging through my stacks of books and articles I decided to publish the six most powerful teaching words I have found.  It’s been many years since this short poem was published in “The Cutting Edge,” yet those words summarize the meaning of SDV.  They remind us all that there is always a purpose to a behavior that many perceive to be only harmful, perhaps insane or manipulative.  This poem is profound because of its simplicity, clarity, and power.  The purpose is to survive the pain in the moment.  The “hurt” is the challenge, much more than the means used to manage it, and in this blog I will ask us to consider all the various forms of suffering that bring people to the need for SDV.  Whether you have ever lifted a knife, razor, match or fist to yourself or not, I’ll bet you understand pain.  Therefore we can find a way to understand, and support, each other.  I feel like I am coming home.

This poem is in the file “TCE 59 it is about the pain” on this website.  This is the newsletter I hand out first to people as it feels powerful to me.  Oh, and that issue contains information about resources as well.  But we’ll get to that here as well, soon…

Many conversations to come and I am eager for your ideas, interests, and thoughts,


Holidays… some merry, some not so much…

The creating of this web site has been a slow and inconsistent process, yet I am writing to celebrate progress.  With the coming of a new year, it feels like an opportune time to let you know that this site will be expanded and added to on a weekly basis as of 2019.

That said, I recognize that this is often a challenging time of year for many people and therefore wanted to post at least a few words now.  It has been 30 years since I first began creating safe places for people living with the need for self-injury, first actual gatherings, then The Cutting Edge newsletter, and now this web site.  This work has been a privilege and my heart is full at the thought of now freeing up the time and energy to return here with passion.  I am looking forward to 2019.

Moving forward, I wanted to throw out a simple quote that has guided my efforts over the years.  It is from the wise Yoda:

Around the survivors a perimeter create.

May you feel safe here, may you feel understood, may you know that you are not alone.  If your life does not feel like a beautiful adventure yet, then please hang on, it just might evolve… it has for me.  If you are struggling, please do whatever you need to survive. Please return here and help create this space to be one of comfort and safety, hope and inspiration.

Best to all,