Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why Harm the Skin

Check out this blog article at Imaginif's Blog I've copied the last two paragraphs here -

Survivors of childhood abuse (both physical and sexual abuse) hide their emotional, physical and spiritual pain within the layers of their skin. Layer after layer the skin conceals feelings of shame, guilt, mistrust, worthlessness and low self-esteem. These feelings can manifest into self-harm, psychiatric disorders, relationship failure, crime, youth suicide, homelessness, alcohol and drug usage, prostitution and domestic violence. Self-harm often being the optimum choice for survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse. The process of ‘cutting’ the skin offers the individual the opportunity to display and demonstrate the internal messages and emotional pain that they are experiencing to the outside world.

When we speak of childhood abuse (both physical and sexual), we know that body boundaries have been crossed, emotions have been altered and voices have been silenced. The child can no longer control their own body and what little power they had prior to the abuse has been taken away. When power, control and an emotional voice have been taken away from the individual, ‘cutting’ (self-harm) the skin provides the child and/or adult the power to control the release of their own pain whether that be emotional or spiritual pain. Finally, ‘cutting’ the skin gives survivors of childhood abuse a voice.

I found that bolded part so true. I started SI because I felt numb and needed to feel something. But then it turned into SI-ing because I was feeling too much. Too much panic or too much anxiety or too much pain. Cutting is my way of talking. Of crying out for help and "talking" about the pain. It's about ME controlling how the emotion is addressed. Instead of bottling it all up inside or having someone else choose for me.

However, there is a Catch-22 there. Because while I say SI-ing is a way of communicating and asking for help with the pain, it is a secret cry. Because I don't let anyone know I do it. No one sees it (except rarely). And I don't talk about it unless I have too.

I'm working on having more of an actual voice. An out loud voice and talking to people - as opposed to SI. It's a hard habit to break. After years of being told "don't talk about it," "Forget about it," "get over it already," and "why are you bringing that up again," I'm conditioned to stay silent.


Rebekah said...

Hi Enola,

My name is Rebekah and I am the writer for the self-harm section at imaginif - I just visited your website - by the sounds of your blogs your voice is growing - I can hear you. Regards Rebekah

Marj aka Thriver said...

I guess I'm feeling a bit fragile to comment right now on any specific stuff you've shared. I am reading your story and I will finish it eventually when I feel up to it. Just want you to know I'm thinking of you and I appreciate your courage--I'm glad you're finding your voice through blogging.

Jewellybeano said...

I'm glad you didn't stay silent with me :)

Austin of Sundrip said...

Blogging is a good way to use your voice because it's no longer being heard just by the people within ear shot..it's being heard the world over.

I cut as well to punish and to relieve guilt. I wear long sleeves to hide it or cut in places people will never see. I hide it not because others wont understand but because I understand. I know what it means and I've found many others do too. And I don't want others knowing that some days the pain is too much to handle. I cut out of shame and guilt. I hide it out of shame and guilt. Hiding seems to be something survivors do a lot but as we heal it no longer is the place we want to be. And as we heal cutting seems less and less like something we want to hold onto.


Patricia Singleton said...

Instead of cutting, I eat for the same reasons, to numb the feelings because it sometimes hurts too much. I am better than I was. I too am learning to use my voice as a bloggers. It is a good place to talk. You have tremendous courage. Thanks for speaking out.