I was fifteen the first time I remember “carving.” It goes by many names, depending upon which person or social group you are conversing with. Self-mutilation is a more academic term for it, I suppose. But for me, it was carving. Some people do it for attention. Some people do it for erotica. Some people do it to prove they aren’t numb. Some people do it absent-mindedly. There’s no one solid, unifying theme among participants.
I wasn’t one of those “emo” kids, and I wasn’t trying to get anyone’s attention. I would sit alone in the shower with my shaving razor, or I’d sit in my room with broken glass. Occasionally I’d use a knife. I lacked the precision of skilled surgeon or the flourishing abilities of a piercing and tattoo artist. Most of my cuts occurred in places one would only see if I stood naked before them. I learned to wear long sleeves and long pants to hide my secret shame.
In some ways, I did “get off” on the pain, but it was more than that. I had seriously deep scars on my heart and soul. I was betrayed in the worst way at the earliest age by men, and the shit piled on after that. You could say I’ve got “daddy issues” and that would be a gross understatement. Yes, I do have fond childhood memories as well, but something snapped in my when I was a teenager.
Maybe it was going from a victim of childhood abuse who had sworn off sex to an overly promiscuous teen in the short span of twelve months. Maybe it was just realizing that damn near every man I encountered wanted one thing from me, whether I wanted them to have it or not. Maybe I was just a stupid crazy overly emotional teen. I don’t know.
I was “happy” and “peppy” to some people. I talked way too much, way too fast, probably empty conversations. I played the good little girl to my family and then snuck guys into my room at night. I told my mother recently that I could never understand her drug and alcohol addictions. I’ve had alcohol, but I can take it or leave it.
I’ve been drunk a whopping two times in my entire life. As for drugs, I never got into them, except the one time I stupidly tried to overdose on over-the-counter pain medications. Yeah…a whole bottle of ibuprofen just makes you puke violently for a few hours and drink gallons of water, or at least that’s what happened to me.
But maybe I do understand addiction. I was addicted to sex and to carving. I can honestly and sadly say that few men have ever managed to satiate me, my husband being one of those few. He’s actually the only one that’s ever truly gotten me to multiple orgasms and orgasms from vaginal penetration. I learned real quick with other guys how to moan and howl like I was at the height of passion…while I did long division and planned the next day’s itinerary in my head.
Some of the guys were just truly terrible in bed, as evidenced by the testimonies of friends who had also had similar experiences with the same people. But I do think that a lot of my lack of passion had to do with the dissociation I learned at such an early age. You have to lay there thinking about math or sunshine or bonsai trees or whether you have any plans for the following weekend when someone who is supposed to be a trusted parent or sibling is doing inappropriate things to you on the bathroom floor.
So it translated to my adult love life. And it didn’t help that I started my adult love life four years before I was “legal.” The first incident of carving that I remember was the time that I went with a friend to her boyfriend’s house to watch movies. We all lay on his bed because his room lacked furniture, and we all got under a blanket cause it was cold. But we were fully clothed. For some reason this guy was laying between me and my friend, and for some reason he started touching me.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I guess I had gotten so used to being taken advantage of. I lay there, pretending to not notice what he was doing, while we watched the movie. After a while he finished whatever it was he’d been trying to accomplish, and I got up and went to the bathroom. I locked the door and sat on the toilet.
In the trashcan opposite the toilet was a rusty disposable razor, probably his mother’s since he still lived with his parents. I picked up the razor, and almost on auto-pilot I broke the plastic surrounding the blade so that it was more exposed. I pressed the blade to my left arm and just kept slicing randomly, faster and faster, and before I knew it my whole left arm was covered in cuts. Some were quite deep whereas others were merely scratches. The blood was pooling and starting to drip.
I had a red jacket in the bedroom. I buried the razor in the trash and stood up, then went and got my jacket, being careful to keep my arm hidden. I put my jacket on to cover the evidence.
I vaguely remember another incident from that night, but can’t remember what order it happened in, but there was a time when he pinned me against the wall in the hallway and kissed me hard on the lips as I cried. I remember her fighting with him at his house, and then us going to a pool hall the next night and me going home with some random guy.
I stopped carving when I found out I was pregnant with Luna. I did have two pregnancies prior to that, but since I lost them I went back to that stupid habit, that oddly painfully soothing habit. But Luna changed a lot of things about me.
Since we conceived Luna, husband has been my only partner. I can’t necessarily say the same thing about him and his choices, but to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t been with anyone other than me since we’ve been married. I guess it just took him longer to grow up…
Anyway, I also quit carving, and I lost the desire to party. I do want to spend time with friends, have adult conversations, and maybe sip on adult beverages. But I don’t want to go to wild parties or clubs and drink til I forget actions as they are occurring. I was never an alcoholic; I’ve only been drunk twice, but I did like to drink in social situations and know that if I didn’t have a good excuse I could have taken it to the excess more often. It’s just not something I feel the need to do much now.
As for the carving, I do sometimes get urges to do it again. Sometimes I get very frustrated with things going on in my day-to-day life. I go into the shower to bathe and see my razor, or I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner and see the drawer full of knives and other sharp objects. But then I think about my pretty little girl and how she looks to me for answers and guidance. I think about what I would do if I lost her. They take children away from crazy people.
I know that fifty CPS ninjas won’t jump out of random hiding places in my house if I carved again, but husband would find out. I never could hide the habit from him. In spite of all the things he’s done wrong he’s done so many things right as well. It always bothered him when I carved.
He told me once that someday we were going to have children and he didn’t want to have to tell our children why I was in a mental institution. So I think about all of these things and I ignore that nagging desire for self-inflicted pain and I try to deal with emotional pain and stress factors in a healthier manner, such as scrubbing the same pan over and over with increasing aggression while I sing along to songs on my MP3.
Papa Roach–I tear my heart open, I sew myself shut. My weakness is that I care too much, and my scars remind me that the past is real. I tear my heart open just to feel.