In This Body: Cuts I Make
Editor Fiona George, Editor's Choice, March 7th, 2017
"It is my Hail Mary of self-destruction..."
Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.
+ + +
“Things Not to Say to Goth Girls.” It’s a video I watched, linked to me from a goth makeup tutorial. I was moving from dressing goth for goth dance nights, into dressing goth for regular life.
One thing not to say to goth girls: “So…do you cut yourself?”
I have scars on my upper arms, on my wrists, on my inner thighs, one on my stomach. The scars on my upper arms are especially visible. The first day I wore black lipstick to my barista job, a customer pointed to my scars, said, “Did you used to be a cutter?”
He said it smiling, he said it in a tone of voice that people use to ask me about my tattoos. The Rocky Horror tattoo on my shoulder, he asked it in the exact way people ask me, “Have you been to Rocky Horror in the theater?”or “Have you been in a Rocky cast?”
Conversational, happy. Like it’s a fashion statement like it’s a choice.
Is it the black lipstick? Does that make the question okay?
I put on my long sleeved sweater and wore it the rest of the day.
I use cutting myself as a short cut, in my writing. When I want to tell you how much I am hurting, a couple lines on that and it’s done. What I don’t tell you is that it’s not a habit for me. It threatens to become one, I can feel the pull of a new addiction. The truth is, I self-destruct in alcohol, and in reckless spending. I wake up in the mornings with a self-hate hangover, or sweat and shake thinking how I will manage to pay rent.
The truth is, when I cut myself I am at my worst. It is my last resort. It is my Hail Mary of self-destruction, when people think I’m fun when I’m wasted but don’t see why I drink that way, when people complement my new outfit—hair, nails, makeup, like the picture I post on Instagram of expensive food I can’t afford. When I binge on my self-destruction, and people love it.
When I imagine killing myself, I imagine a release of tension. An opening vein, my body hit by a bus, a puke of pills and liquor. I feel a tense in my chest, my head, my blood vessels and it helps to picture these things. It is a comfort, to see the fluids flow, to watch my body go out of frame as a bus hits it, pushes it to pieces, and the tension of my tendons and my bones and skin and veins all split apart in one split second.
Sometimes, it is dull. Everything is dulled and the image of blood or the rush of the bus or the pulse that an overdose would bring look nice. They look like feeling, they look like a defiant end to the dull scratch of life.
I make one or two deep cuts at a time, or a thick overlay of shallow scratches. Remember: it’s the release of tension that I’m after. The image of watching blood flow, the way it slows my blood, the way it makes my hurt viscous.
The deep cuts, you can see the fat under the layer of skin, and you can watch that well fill with blood and drip onto your sheets and you will tell anyone who asks that it comes from your period but you know that period blood leaves a specific pattern the blood stain is formed around your labia, your legs, and you know someone has to know this blood is different.
I cut enough that I can watch the blood flow, can watch the release of whatever skin holds. And then I care for myself, I heal. I wash the cuts with a warm wet rag and I tape gauze down or lay band aids, I apply pressure. And this, this is just as important. This, is maybe the most important part of the ritual. This is healing myself in a way I can see.
I go to Planned Parenthood to get a birth control implant, inserted through a needle in my upper arm. Under some of my scars. The doctor says, “Are these self inflicted?”
I say, “Yesitwasalongtimeago,”I say it fast and I don’t look at her face. Those scars were about three years old, on the other arm they were less than six months old, and I had thought just earlier that day of doing it again.
She says, “And you feel okay now?”
I say, “Yes.”
+ + +
Header image courtesy of Erik Jones. To view his Artist Feature, go here.
To read the previous installment of In This Body, “Exclusion,” go here.