…occasionally I wished I could walk through a picture window and have the sharp, broken shards slash me to ribbons, so I would finally look like I felt.” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
Trigger warning: Self-harm – an intensely personal point of view. Not for the emotionally vulnerable.
When I re-read my poems that span across almost 40 years, one of the leitmotifs is blood. Although my writing speaks eloquently about the emotional pain, I never wrote about the psychological need for, or the act and results of inflicting physical pain.
The time has come to speak about this very private “thing”, though, and to call it by its name: self-harm. I know I am not alone in how I use self-harm as a means to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration. But although I do not condone it at all as a means of coping, and advise people who are victims of this destructive behaviour to seek immediate help, I am however ambivalent in how I view my own acting upon the urge.
Yes, I find fleeting relief from emotional pain while it is temporarily replaced by the physical. But no, I do not experience guilt or shame. Then why have I kept it a secret? I guess the only answer to that is that it had been something intensely private, something inextricably entwined with my gender confusion. Becoming the real me, I had always seen as a dream, something that could never become a reality. I wrote this in 2011:
The only one I long to be:
a deep, undisclosed part of me –
a character who fascinates and intrigues
but from the darkness he seldom speaks –
lurking in the recesses of my mind,
where he dwells with other misfits of his kind.
Dare I show this repressed part?
(The one who rules my shattered heart)
What Prince of Darkness will I find,
if I should un-snare the ropes that bind?
Allowing my repressed trans side to be disclosed and empowering Kris to finally speak, is however not the end of my battles. There are other demons I need to slay on my life’s journey, many of them human. And I am not invincible. I need armour against their onslaught and currently part of my defense is inflicting my own wounds. Before I am wounded? Probably.
Foolish? Yes. Irrational? For sure. Not a solution? Of course not. There are other, better and healthier ways of coping.
But seeing the crimson of my own blood is a means of visualizing the invisible ribbons of hurt. Experiencing physical pain dulls the emotional for a while as I gaze upon the Prince of Darkness in my soul. It keeps me from lashing out at others. And I live to fight another day.
Judge me if you dare.