My right wrist is tattooed with the word “Love.” The tattoo faces me. It faces me because I need it to remind me to love myself because, you see, sometimes I forget. It reminds me that God means love. It is a symbol of strength. But if you look closely enough you will see a scar – a line that runs between the “o” and the “v” of the words. It is a self-inflicted scar. Another reason I got the tattoo was to stop me from cutting up my right wrist. I wouldn’t want to ruin the tattoo, now would I?
My left wrist is another story. It is a tangle of scars. I cut the “right” way, up and down, not sideways. The scars are tender even today, after all that time. I’ve needed stitches at least three times. Two of those times I went to the doctors too long after the cutting and all we could do was bandage and wrap my wrist up. The other time I was given stitches along with a 7 day stay in a psych ward. I’m pretty sure I could have used them a few more times, but I don’t like doctors and hate psych wards.
I’ve never cut anywhere else on my body, just my wrists. For me, it has more to do with my obsessive compulsive disorder than anything else. It also seems to coincide with stress (like most of my obsessive thoughts and subsequent compulsions). I don’t cut to feel pain. I don’t cut for attention – in fact I hide it as best I can. I do it because my mind becomes stuck on the idea. It gets stuck and I can’t move it and it’s exhausting and then I can’t take it another minute and I give in.
There is shame that comes along with all of this. Shame when people notice or ask me about the scars. Shame that I can go months without cutting and then I do it again. I used to do a good job at hiding the scars. I have a collection of over-sized bracelets and large-faced watched that I wear to cover my left wrist. But today I don’t care as much. My scars tell a story.
Every time I see my therapist she asks, “How’s the cutting?” and usually I reply, “No cutting,” and hold up my wrist to prove it. That makes me feel good. That makes me feel strong.