Monday, July 30, 2007

Why the Where?

I have been asked before WHY I self-injure. It's a very common question actually. I'm not sure that people who do not SI can really understand. On a really basic level, the answer is "because it works." It provides an escape from the overwhelming feelings of that moment. (I could elaborate, but I've discussed this before so I'll move on).

I was asked a different question recently - Do you SI on a particular part of your body, and if so Why there?

I didn't know SI included all the things it apparently does. I have picked at my skin for years. Have scars all over my arms, especially my shoulders. Actually, even now, if I'm feeling the urge to SI, sometimes I can delay it/fight it, by picking at my skin. "Luckily" for me (?), I have horrible skin, so there are always clogged pores or other blemishes to pick at.

But when I started really SI-ing -- the pinning/cutting part, I used my legs. Never really consciously thought about it, just did it there.....

I've always been told I have nice legs. My mom has chicken legs. Extraordinarily scrawny. As she's gained weight, she's put it on everywhere except below the knees. My sister is slightly bow legged. Mom was always teased about her legs. I remember my one aunt bemoaning the fact that she, too, had the family legs. My other aunt teased them as she had escaped that fate. I remember my grandmother and my aunt talking about all us cousins and which ones of us had the family legs and which did not.

I did not get the family legs (the family nose is another story entirely). So everyone noticed my legs. I guess they are shapely? My mother always encouraged me to wear shorter skirts. I liked ankle length skirts because I prefer to sit cross-legged and can do that in long skirts. But my mother, who had been relegated to long skirts all her life in order to hide her legs, thought I should show off my legs and wear shorter skirts. I know my Husband said one of the things he noticed first was my legs. (maybe I need to be a leg model?)

I had previously made the connection between cutting and the human/body part of me. Cutting is a way to connect with my physical being - a connection I otherwise have difficulty making. It's a way to punish my body for betraying me so long ago. It's a way to control how my body responds - I cut, it bleeds, it hurts - very simple. It's a way to cut out the "bad" part of me. To make my own mark. To put my words in my skin. To punish my physical being.

I think maybe I subconsciously chose my legs because of those comments. Because it is the part of my body that was noticed. Especially in the summer. Summer is when the abuse happened. When I did wear shorts and get noticed. Since cutting, I've had to adjust my wardrobe. No more shorts in the summer. Capris or really long shorts (I finally found 1 pair of casual jean shorts that are long enough to wear). So my legs aren't shown off.

So I think that is my answer to Why the Where.


Lynn said...

This makes sense, Enola. Sometimes there is more reason to things than what people think.

Mary said...

"It's a way to punish my body for betraying me so long ago." Yes. YES. YES! Those are my thoughts toward my body, EXACTLY!!!! I've only scratched myself, and only once has it drawn blood-I try to no longer do it. But those were/are my exact thoughts-thank you so much for saying them!!