I Bleed Therefore I Am

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When I was a girl I was terrified of my mother.

She wasn’t a malicious person. She was just completely ill-equipped to live the life fate had created for her. She had no education past the 8th grade, didn’t know how to drive, and had no marketable skills. Her 46-year-old husband walked out of the door a healthy man and dropped dead of a heart attack a few hours later. He left her with 6 children, aged 2 – 12.

She was an orphan who grew up in a group home. There was no love there, only beatings. So she beat us, sometimes mercilessly, to discipline us. I have long forgiven her, because as Maya Angleou said, “You did the best that you knew how. Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”

She worked 3 jobs, 70 hours a week and was rarely home. So, if you provoked her anger, sometimes, she let you know that you were in big trouble – later.

That was the most terrifying part. The beatings were never as bad as the emotional agony of anticipating one. I wondered what her hands would grab – her shoe, a spatula, once a cutting board – because it hurt her to use her bare hands. I have inherited her narrow hands, and long, slender fingers. Only mine have never been used to strike my child.

I was 11 years old and cleaning up the dinner dishes. I had lost a brand new pocket book that afternoon. Brand-new anything was hard to come by in our household, and I knew I was in trouble. The fear manifested as pressure in my hands and I squeezed a glass. It shattered. I’ll never know why – but I grabbed a shard of glass and dug it in my palm.

Relief.

As soon as the blood dripped out of my hand, the excruciating precognition leaked out of my brain. The immediacy of the physical pain took precedence over all.

That was the night I got knocked in the head with a cutting board. My oldest brother, who raised me, brought me to the hospital and held my hand when they stitched up my scalp. I remember him looking down at my hand, saw him seeing the gash. But he said nothing. Not that time, or any other.

I stopped cutting in my early 20’s and replaced it with a narcotics addiction. And as I got older, I found positive ways to combat my inner turmoil, and relied neither on drugs nor cutting. However, my worldview was built upon a damaged foundation. I’m still in the process of renovating, and it becomes sturdier all the time. But occasionally, the faulty misalignment at the base of my existence wavers, and the life I have built weaves precariously out of control. If I do cut, it’s always predicated upon an experience that dredges up childhood fears.

Recently I had a falling out with someone I see as an authority figure. I started the argument. I was upset and behaving irrationally and he became furious. Unfortunately, there was no time to resolve our dispute and the discussion was tabled until the next day. And I was left with the knowledge that I had angered him tremendously, but there would be no closure that day or night.

I fell completely apart.

I entered a time warp and sat in my childhood bedroom, awaiting my fate. My skin didn’t fit. I couldn’t get comfortable. No matter how I sat or lay, my body kept bumping into the sharp angles of my own pain and there was no impending sleep. I wandered into different rooms, seeking a place to settle myself. I needed to release some of the emotions flooding my body. I felt like a bomb, suspended in the forever right before it detonates.

I cut.

I cut, therefore I bleed.
I bleed, therefore I am.

It was not pleasurable. It never is. It is the absence of pain. And the absence of pain is a beautiful thing.

When I cut, whatever turmoil I am experiencing gets pushed onto the back burner of irrelevance as the reality of open flesh and blood take precedence. From an aesthetic perspective, the deep red visuals dominate the delicate landscape of skin.

And I feel in control now. In control of my own pain. I get to injure myself. I’m in charge of what I feel, not you. Your words can’t hurt me. Only I can hurt me.

Self harmers are given advice on how to avoid this behavior. We are told to wear rubber bands around our wrists and snap them to create a sharp sting, to eat pungent foods like jalapeno that burn fiercely. To create the same neurological pathway of pain stimulus, without actually opening the flesh.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes I don’t even try. I just cut.

I rarely cut anymore. This was an anomaly.

I have a lingering irrational fear of my friend. I feel terrible because he is a kind person who, if he knew about this, would probably be upset. He had no idea that our unsettled turmoil would trigger this maelstrom. I try to resolve all conflict, especially of my making, as swiftly as possible.

I cannot have unresolved anger towards me live in my body. I need to know that I am forgiven and loved, despite what I have done.

The cuts are almost healed. The friendship will take a bit longer, but I’m hoping my soul is as resilient as my skin.

And my misaligned foundation is getting balanced and strong; so strong, that there are days – where I am almost magnificent.

Do you know anyone who self harms? Or copes in other destructive ways?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

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46 thoughts on “I Bleed Therefore I Am

  1. “And don’t do this anymore either.”
    Only you know what that means now.
    Take that with you & know that you’re loved. It’s a sick cycle. & We’re fucking infected. I won’t let anybody that suffers from this, or any other demon, go down without a fight, though. & You, you, my dear are the epitome of a fighter…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I haven’t much since I was a teenager, but I sometimes succumb when I am angry beyond words. I can’t really explain why, nor do I care to try at the moment.
    … And that’s the second time I’ve admitted to doing it at all.

    I’m trying to get help, for this and many other things.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Reblogged this on A Buick in the Land of Lexus and commented:

    I’m part of a loving family that runs the blog, Stories That Must Not Die.

    Rara left this blog to us, as her legacy. She wrote, “This is a place for the stories that are too sad, too strange, too big, too angry, too fierce, too everything. They don’t fit in normal places, so I made this one.”

    I’m the last member of the family to post. It’s time for me to show the kind of courage the rest of these brave bloggers have shown.

    You’re all my family, too. So I’d like to share it with you.

    Peace,
    Samara

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I think the more we talk about issues like self harm, then we can collectively raise awareness and be more in a position to help or understand people who feel compelled to hurt themselves.

    I wish you peace.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Michelle.

      I do like to share these kinds of stories occasionally. Just in case someone looks at me, and I look like someone who would “never” do that.

      I am, I have. But I’m done.

      love,
      S

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate to hit the “like” button. I didn’t know that I knew somebody who self harms until now. And I didn’t know that someone I loved hurt so much. I know we have not physically met, that we are miles apart, but when someone hurts you, I am here to hold your hand.

    I’m sorry for the childhood you survived. I’m sorry that you have to feel pain to feel relief.

    Your courage shows in your words. Thank you for sharing this story. As difficult as it is for me to read, it’s important that more light be shown on these dark topics and that others know they are not alone. You continue to amaze me, Samara.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I understand how you feel. Even though I have not cut for over 20 years, there is still the urge at times when the pain gets to be too much. I have held the blade to my skin and put it down because I just don’t want to give in. I find something else to do, though the pain is still there. It is so difficult.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You are magnificent. I’m glad some days you know that.

    I have never cut. I’ve never really done any kind of self harm. But when you said “I can’t have unresolved anger live in my body, I need to know that I am forgiven and loved” Yes. I get that. You just summed up the primary motivator in how I live my life.

    You are so amazingly strong. You’re a fighter. You are Herculean. You inspire me every time.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. “I cannot have unresolved anger towards me live in my body. I need to know that I am forgiven and loved, despite what I have done.”

    I’m the same way.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My way of harming myself is very different, but this is not uncommon in the ED community. I am friends with someone who does cut…we are each other’s “distraction buddy”. Chat, text, email, phone. No questions asked, no lecture, just “talk to me NOW”. It’s helped more often than not, but of course nothing is 100% :-/

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You are so very brave and awesome.

    When I was a teenager, I was a cutter. I stopped cutting, but I was still self-harming. I moved to other forms of self-harm, namely substance abuse. I still self-harm, but now, it’s mostly with thoughts about my own inadequacies. Self-harm is insidious like that.

    Thanks for talking about this. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Samara, my niece who lived with me for a year and who I was not able to “save” from herself, used to cut among many other self destructive behaviors. I honestly never truly understood what was behind the cutting except for a superficial knowledge that the person was engaging in another self harming behavior. I am so sorry that you have and still go through this. I also thank you for explaining it the way you have. It makes so much sense to me now. The fact that the cutter then becomes in control of their pain and can regulate it as opposed to being hurt by others. She starved herself and was bulimic and I can now see how in control she felt then as well. You are one strong woman, you amaze me more and more every day. xoxoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Samara, this is very brave of you to share. I also cut. I haven’t in a couple of months. I’ve also SI by various methods. I get to hurt me and I deserve it because you tried and I can do it better, so there. The pain always comes back.

    I used to burn myself. I found it less messy and just as painful. I can’t allow candles or the tools to light them in my place. Even the stove is precarious, even though it’s electric.

    Thank you again for sharing this and know you aren’t alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have a similar issue that I’m trying to resolve. It has gotten much better since I’ve started blogging, but the urge is often there and sometimes I give in. I always knew it was related to anxiety, but didn’t know why I would choose something destructive and painful to relieve the stress – and I always felt guilty and ashamed of myself.

    These phrases were like a bolt of lightning for me: “As soon as the blood dripped out of my hand, the excruciating precognition leaked out of my brain. The immediacy of the physical pain took precedence over all” and “When I cut, whatever turmoil I am experiencing gets pushed onto the back burner of irrelevance as the reality of open flesh and blood take precedence.” That is such a true and honest way of describing why we do what we do – I had never made that connection.

    Like

  14. I have several students that are cutters and so many people still can’t understand why they do it. If you come to understand it releases pain for them, you come to understand how hard it is to stop. So glad to hear that you are doing better with it. Maya Angelou is a great inspiration for helping people find the best in themselves 😊

    Like

  15. I became a cutter during a violent relationship. At times it felt like relief. Others punishment. The tender, stinging of my cuts reminded me as they slowly healed. I still get the urge but have abstained for almost a year. Most people don’t know this about me and one of my biggest fears is my son seeing. I appreciate the way you wrote about this, vivid and honest without glorifying it. For me is was a tool in my survival kit that I’m trying to retire.

    Like

  16. Samara, your childhood I can’t imagine, but can in a way {only not as critical} but abuse is horrific in any way or type. To be as brave as you to share something so personal, I only wish I could. I can’t understand the “cutting” as I have never been aware of anyone around me or in my life doing this. I am thinking of you today and will have you in my mind as I am out running, I wish for you to continue to grow strong and to not want to do this again. I did not realize just how many out there really do this until reading the comments. My heart is full of love for all of you.

    Like

  17. Samara, this post is so important, and you gave readers a glimpse of “why” so perfectly. It’s a difficult thing to understand. I’ve never cut, yet I feel like I understand the process all too well. In fact, a character in my novel is a cutter. There is something about the process that I empathize with very much.

    You are a warrior in every sense of the word. xo

    Like

  18. This post hit home for me. My 12yo daughter’s best friend whom I love as a daughter as well is a cutter. She no longer lives in our same town, having moved in with her mother last year after having been raised by her grandmother because her mom was a drug addict, etc. My heart hurts for her because I can’t help her especially since she is so far away now. Luckily, my daughter and I have such an open relationship that we have been able to discuss this at length and the importance of her being there for her friend any way she can. Still…I wish there was more I could do.

    Like

  19. Thank you for sharing, I’ve not understood the thought process of a cutter but you have shed some light. I hope your tension with your friend finds some resolution and peace.

    Like

  20. This is the closest I have ever come to understanding what it is to cut. Thank you for sharing your painful story. I hope it helps with your endeavor to rebuild that foundation–you are worth it.

    Like

  21. Wow, really good piece, Samurai. I have a friend who used to cut herself when we were in HS. The way she described the reasons for doing it is like what you describe – like, refocusing that hurt. I’ve heard that squeezing ice cubes works.

    Like

    • We learn lots of stuff- yep, squeezing ice cubes can help.

      At the end of the day, though, to be honest- nothing really feels like cutting except cutting. I’m glad I rarely do it.

      So funny when people tell me, “I personally don’t know anyone that cuts.”

      Yeah, you do. You just don’t know it.

      Thanks for reading, Chowder ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  22. You are forgiven. You are loved. For any wrongs, real or perceived, past, present and future.
    Big bloggy love shall encompass you.
    Big bloggy forgiveness too.

    Thank you for sharing this… for raising awareness, for trusting us with this truth of who you are and who you are working on becoming.

    Like

    • I’m just getting to finally answering these comments.

      My participation in the blog world has been spotty at best. I know you understand and relate to that. And this post in particular, I didn’t really want to revisit.

      I feel really good so much of the time. But every now and then, I bottom out. And I need to learn how to self soothe, just like a baby. Without doing anything harmful.

      I feel so lucky to have you for a friend. Because I know you never judge me. And you say the most kind and loving things. The person who posted here anonymously recently wanted to respond to your comment. They were really moved by it.

      You’re a spectacular human being. Just wanted to tell you that.

      Like

      • *bows* I’m naught but a humble jester… a humble, lost, and flailing jester, desperetely clawing to hold onto a kingdom I created with love over two years and can no longer seem to find. It’s there, I know it is, but it eludes me all the same. Like tonight, I’m answering this comment, because it is you, then I’m going to pop over to STMND to read all that awesome, and then I’ll be shutting down to return to the real world for chores, and The Queen, and sleep (hopefully). And the kingdom? It remains hidden from me…
        You are also a spectacular human being, and I hope you find the peace in your life that you need and want and deserve.

        Like

  23. I cant respond to this without giving too much away that I don’t want to talk about. I was never a cutter. I was just blank inside. Like a shadow. I wasted my whole life up until now as a complete robot. I had to have 5 heart surgeries to realize I wanted to be alive and actually feel something.

    Like

    • Maurnas.
      That makes my heart hurt for you.

      I haven’t seen you around much. Then again, I haven’t been around much. I hope you’re having a good summer. Thank you for reading, and for understanding.

      xo

      Like

  24. My mother would strike out with words, not physical objects. Her tongue was like a knife. And because she was mentally ill, I never knew when or where she would strike. Sometimes she’s be more “normal” and then the mania would set in. It honed my intuition to a razor. I can sense people’s emotions like nobody’s business. I coped by using food. We all just do the best we can. It’s called survival. And you’re doing it kiddo! I’ve been working on myself for a while now, and I’m realizing it’s a process, but it’s getting better. Glad you stumbled upon my blog so I could find you.

    Like

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