The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What the hell kind of idiotic survey question is this!?

So I'm looking at a friend's MySpace profile, and she put up one of those convenient surveys to tell everyone a bit about herself. Everything's pretty silly and benign, except the last question. The last question, casual as "Have you ever kissed someone?" is "Do you cut yourself?"

Pardon my French, but WHAT THE MOTHERFUCKING FUCK!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

This is a subject that has become more and more irritable to me, and today it is the last straw.


Why is this pissing me off so much? Because I've done it. I still think of doing it sometimes. At twenty-six. I didn't grow out of it. It's still a gut reaction to many forms of stress, and I'm having to retrain my thinking.

I don't know what's worse, the fact that now that it's being talked about by adults it's considered so disturbing that any coverage about it in the media barely scrapes the surface of the subject, or that apparently it's now considered some sort of teenage fad.

Shall we add other questions to these surveys now? "Are you an alcoholic?" "Do you have an eating disorder?" "Have you attempted suicide?" "Do you shoot up smack?"

It makes me laugh, this public wringing of the hands. "Oh, what's to be done?" The fact that our children are doing this is disturbing enough, eh? Do you know what it's like? Do you want to know?

The disturbing thing isn't that it's done. The disturbing thing is how it feels when you're doing it. It's not the physical act. The pain, the blood, all of it is part of the fact that when you're doing it, it feels good. Good in a way I can hardly describe. It's not a high. It's not a positive, happy feeling. It comes from a dark place that only those who have been there really understand.

It's about wanting control over something when you think that you can't have control over anything else in your life. It's about expressing emotions that you don't feel you can express any other way. It's a want for attention. It's a want for self destruction. It's something you do when you don't know what else to do. And instead of acting out on others (like a school shooting) it's acting out on yourself.

And hey, maybe I should be glad that people are finally talking about it, huh? Maybe I'm upset because no one was concerned about it when I needed people to be concerned. Not that my mother wasn't. It sickens me how she won't say that I was cutting myself. She would always say I was "cutting on myself." She couldn't ever bring herself to say exactly what it was.

Heh, it's even got a new term now. It's not "self mutilation." You're a "cutter." How fucking quaint.

This isn't a tattoo, or a piercing, or even something connected to the spiritual. This comes from a bad place, and while it needs to be seriously talked about, it should be seen for what it is. Not some "inhuman act." Not something all the other kids are doing. It's a silent pleading for the bad things to go away.

You're concerned? Get over your fear. Get over your "that's so cool" mentality. This is not a rebellious act to be proud of, and this is not something unspeakable to gloss over in hopes that it'll stop.

You don't know the disgusting shame that you're left with after the fact either. For me it wasn't just the sense of having to hide it rather than explain myself and fear becoming a pariah. The worry of having to explain it to boyfriends and lovers and be forever shunned. It was the self-criticism that it was all an immature cry for attention. Attention I didn't deserve. I knew it while I was doing it. The good feeling never lasted.

The deepest and most permanent of my scars I have are on my left arm in full view. Scars that I've had since I was nineteen, when I woke up the next day and realized that I couldn't hide them under long sleeves forever. I think about how proud I was of my perfect, pale skin, and how it'll never be so perfect again. I'll have these scars my whole life, no matter how much better I get. They're always there. A constant reminder of darker days. A slight panic of having to explain it to people who notice. The concern with noticing the signs of others doing it, and knowing that they don't feel safe talking to me about it. How do you bring that up in conversation? "By the by, I used to cut myself. Is that what you did/have been doing too?"

Few people ever seem to notice, though. It's easier to look the other way when you don't understand something. People often see what they want to see. And somedays even I forget that they're there.

But they are. I'll show them to you. Just ask me. How cool is that?


  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger sarah said…


    I came across your post totally accidently, through some a random path from google hitting random links on a lazy friday afternoon and so I felt bizarrely led to your post about this survey question. I self-harm, and I'm fighting to raise awareness and understanding in the world through my own work and that of a charity I run called lifeSIGNS, and I appreciate your rant about the question in the survey. Goodness knows why people treat it so lightly.

  • At 6:13 PM, Anonymous knows you too well said…

    i dont know whats worse, the increase of perceived social status through being someone with this to overcome, or someone jumping on this in a hypocritical rant trying to get everyone to pay attention to the fact that she cuts herself.
    i dont beleive that it should be something trendy,and it is a very personal thing that seems to be very misunderstood, but that little post of yours?
    get over yourself and grow the hell up!!!

    goodness knows why people treat this to assert 'deservedness' and drag up excuses for behaviour.

    i wonder who you'll call over after this post to 'help you through this'..cuz it never feels as good as when they think you're really struggling to get by, and you can enjoy it in the comfort of your on attention seeking mentaility, does it?

  • At 6:23 PM, Anonymous knows you too well said…

    by the way sarah, keep up the good work,its a very good charity you run.

  • At 10:48 PM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    I assure you, "knows you too well," my intent is not a hypocritical ploy for sympathy. Do you really think that after ten years of hiding what I've done that I want to "out" myself simply for attention?

    People who know me in real life read this blog. Friends and coworkers, none of whom I have really wished to share my sordid emotional problems with. I wrote this post because the subject is important to me and I felt the need to speak up on it for once.

    *sigh* Not like you're actually going to come back and read this...

  • At 4:47 PM, Anonymous knows you too well said…

    i did

    you can highlight issues that are important to you and that you feel very strongly about without introducing your personal history.

    i think it would probably be taken more seriously if you did.

    i should not have been so rude though,thats inexcusable, and i am sorry.
    i do understand that my attitude does not easily account for people that are genuine through a medium as stark as text.
    i just see the same speach thats given, devoid by genuinity, by loads of people i make reference to in the previous post.

    this is a major shortcomming of mine,one that needs to be gotten over, it just kills me that like the email you were sent, its become a 'teenage fad'.
    not because i want wider news coverage, maybe in the respect of understanding that it does not lead to suicidal tendancies as a rule, and there's a specific way of handeling it.
    it is understandable though why it causes so much concern, and like any issue, there is varying degrees to each persons problem, the emphasis should be on like you said, retraining ability and activity to manage triggers to S.I., and not trying to humiliate or threaten somebody to stop immediatly, as worrying as it is.
    there definatly needs to be awareness of help people affected, not just people who do it, by self infliction, and i beleive that the stigma should definatly erode, whilst still maintaining respect for it.

    however, im unfamiliar to news coverage in america, ive found it in the past to be sensationalist and skewed, even on the most prestigious news channels, so i can well imagine wide-spread panic arising from possibly inaccurate sweaping statements, even from the least credible of all sources.

  • At 1:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fabulous Miss Rose,
    I just read your piece on the 'idiotic survey' and have to say I'm impressed. The thought, sincerity and honesty in what some may consider 'rantings' I see for what they are: a girl, much younger, from ten years ago, at last being able to speak up, speak out IN WRITING AND IN PUBLIC about something held for so long as "shameful."
    There is no counseling here, no psychology background held that I feel the need to pull out and whip on you. What there REALLY is, is an empathy and quasi-understanding from someone who witnesses children self-mutilate and wants to know what to say or do as you witness them begin to get so anxious you know it will begin... We're talking little people, two, three, four and five years old; so they haven't lived long enough to know they should hide it from others. Self mutilation of the younger kind, ie, biting or scratching anywhere on yourself til you hurt and bleed - seems comparable.
    The feelings are the same, I would guess, in a child that doesn't even have the language in the first place to begin to even know what to say. These little ones are referred to us specifically by Child Protective Services for reasons of abuse, neglect or are drug impacted either by birth or through their home environment.
    What you have given me is a deeper, straight from the heart understanding of what its like on their end, from their perspective.
    Anxiety? You better believe it! Rage? Check. Needing to feel some kind of control in a desperate situation? Got it. Wanting attention and hoping that someone will still see what you're doing and love you all the way through it to the other side? Etched.
    Its alright to be outraged at the thought of "Oh yeah, so now they want to talk about it!" All our children, regardless of age, "deserve our attention" through it all - the good, the bad, the painful and the shameful.
    I hear you on the part of feeling the need to explain the scars to everyone, but in fact, you don't. Those whom are the closest to you, either now or in the future, should want to know so they can cradle you in care, concern and love and lift you up to the point where this is a part of your history, a very long chapter which you have already begun to write a segue to The Rest of Your Life.
    Part of you- always, but not the definition or sum of who you are.
    I'm grateful to have found your description of what it was like for you, and plan to share it with others who not only witness but also try to help our youngest children get through it to the other side... just figuring it couldn't hurt for us be more present with the feelings left unspoken, and more patient with The Process. Thanks Rose.
    - Denise in WA
    PS. As for 'knows you too well':
    Sounds like that person has
    got darker issues and secrets
    they are not brave enough to
    acknowledge, much less post.
    You know, the Shoot-First-Ask
    Questions-Later type....
    water off a duck's back,I say.


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