"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
wound Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English wund; akin to Old High German wunta wound
1 a : an injury to the body (as from violence, accident, or surgery) that involves laceration or breaking of a membrane (as the skin) and usually damage to underlying tissues b : a cut or breach in a plant due to external violence
2 : a mental or emotional hurt or blow
3 : what is inside, surfacing outside
Sunlight is always somewhere, but I know places where the sun hardly ever shines at all.
Those places are within some people's hearts. In that place, where we were designed to hold joy and love and peace, they have darkness and fear and lonliness and tragic sadness instead. When these envelope a person, they can fall through the cracks so easily, because so many others simply don't understand it.
I don't know when cutting became as widespread as it is now. When I was young, no one did anything like that. Or, if they did, no one knew it. In the late seventies and the eighties, we were too concerned with our own selfish ego trips to have done anything of the sort.
But now, now things are very, very different out there. Our brave new world is, for many, nothing short of brutal.
Statistics say that one out of every hundred high school age students "cuts". And soberingly, an overwhelming 97% of these are reported to be female. Why do these people injure themselves? There are a lot of reasons, and most aren't what other people would immediately think.
First, it is almost never a desire to kill themselves. People who cut are seldom suicidal. Unfortunately, those who are unfamiliar with it usually treat it like a symptom of being suicidal, which leads to a lot of unnecessary drama and can even alienate the person who needs help. Conversely, people who cut are far more likely to attempt suicide at some point if untreated.
Many people cut because they feel a lack of control in their lives. In a way, cutting gives them this control they crave. In such cases it can be very dangerous, because it could easily be addictive behavior.
Others cut because they have a problem with their bodies or their bodily image. Many people with eating disorders cut.
Still others cut because they are consumed by emotion (such as anger and anxiety or lonliness) and it gives them a focus, allowing them to reach a state of relative calm, at least for a time.
But by far the most widespread reason for cutting is that a person has already done it before, and has become addicted to the results.
This is hardly a comprehensive list. I would imagine that every person who cuts has their own unique set of reasons. But I can definitely say one thing for sure.
There is no reason good enough.
Now, am I under any delusion that simply stopping a person from cutting is going to accomplish anything? Absolutely not. Cutting is not a problem, it is a symptom. When you fix the underlying, real problem, the behavior will take care of itself. So I won't sit here and say "Stop cutting." That won't fix anything. It's good to resist it, if you can, but the root problem is what has to be fixed in order to have a permanent solution.
There is a dark place inside that seems to be a trigger for this behavior in so many people. Story after story I read describes this place in some form or another. In one person, this place is filled with anger. In another, with terrible stress. In another, overwhelming hopelessness. In yet another, it is only a gaping void.
And when you look into such a place, when it folds you into itself, the rules of the "normal" world don't seem to apply anymore. Bright colors hurt, vibrant life offends, happiness is a mystery, a myth from another time far away, the reflection in the mirror becomes a grotesque monster lie. Cutting yourself with a razor becomes a very real choice to stop the madness, to punish the body, to escape.
But the only way to make a real lasting difference is to close the door on that horrible place forever.
I've never cut, but I certainly have that dark place. I've stood there in the blackness darker than pitch, and felt the hopelessness bigger than the entire universe. Now, I'm learning how to close that door, how to not go into that room, ever.
One day I plan to lock that door forever, too.
If you've been there, you know the pain it brings. But you also know the incredible depth of emotion you are capable of. You are also probably artistically talented, perhaps music, perhaps poetry.
In any event, you one out of a hundred...
You're special. Not only that, you're better. There is a reason you have the intensity of emotion that you do. There is a reason that you care as deeply as you do. There is a reason that life feels so wrong that you just want to attack it.
Hans Christian Anderson wrote a children's story about a duckling that was clumsy and didn't fit in with the other ducks. The other ducks teased him, and his life was torture as he grew older and even less like the other ducks. That is, until he became what he really was, a swan, far more beautiful and powerful than any duck could ever hope to be.
My generation and the one before has turned our world into a world of ducks. We've uprooted the spiritual anchor and praised behavior that was nothing but rebellion and decay. We've set the stage with filth and rot and called it political correctness.
And here you are, a swan trying to survive in this world.
You want a calm family life, a loving home. We've made it almost impossible, and made marriage into a temporary fling instead of a lifelong commitment. Inside, you know these things are wrong and you cry out against it.
You want to be pretty, to be thin, to fit in. We've surrounded you with hamburger and fried food restaurants and filled the stores with high calorie garbage and said "Eat this when you feel bad." You know this is wrong, you know this is bad for you, and your body rebels.
You want to be complete, to find a person who loves you above all others. You know this kind of love exists, you can feel it. We've taken this from you and filled the world with casual relationships that use all the methods of love with no real love in them. You yearn for what is real and true, and sit in the dark and cry.
And here, here is the truth of the matter.
All these things you crave, all these things you know the world should be, you are right.
We, and those who went before, messed up. It's our fault. You thought it was you, and it isn't. It's us.
You, with your scars and your yearning, you will have the power to fix all of this.
You'll be able to make it right.
Please, we need you.
Wounded souls, purple hearts, we will owe you the world.
(In researching for this post, I came across a very good website called "Showing Our Scars" which had some really good information on self injury and how to understand it and cope with it. Pay them a visit.)
"If you're going through hell, keep going."