Copyright, PJ

The other night I was engaging in my most frequent (and embarrassing and shameful) sort of self-injury, which involves picking at, peeling back and generally removing my toenails. What starts as an unconscious ‘picking-at’ with my fingers always winds up a full-blown effort with scissors and blades. That particular night I managed to completely mangle my left “big toe” and two other lesser toes. Because I do this so frequently, there isn’t much nail left to remove, so it’s just another blood-letting.

For some reason, clear evidence of this doesn’t seem to disturb people hardly at all when compared to cutting. (Burns, which can be written off as accidental, are rarely noticed, but are saved for more important emotional turmoil). When I lived alone, I would do extensive cutting and biting on my forearms. Now that I live with my mom, I can’t do that anymore without a scene ensuing.

Some people on the list talk about husbands or parents checking them over for evidence of fresh injury, and this is something I actually aspire to. I wish I had someone who cared to do that. Rather, I discreetly cut my breasts and upper arms (arms only in the winter) and it remains a secret between me and my clothes. My mom has written off my often bloody toes as something akin to nailbiting. Whatever. Biting leaves an injury that, since I bite the same places over and over, are very hard to recognize as such: a bit of torn skin and a pale bruise.

I do deliberate cutting with a razor blade usually only when I’m depressed. I do biting usually only when I’m enraged. I do burning usually only when I am near suicidal (the pain with that is the greatest; the most punishment perhaps?), and I tear at my toenails all other times.

I guess explaining it is where I get stuck. I can write an explanation right now for why I desire to cut right now, but it won’t explain last Saturday night’s need to express a little blood, nor will it explain tomorrow’s. Sometimes it is in response to loneliness, other times in response to “circuit overload” (too many people, too much stimuli). Sometimes I suspect that a person who I care deeply about is growing away from me, and other times I’m just plain angry at him. There have been times when I’ve actually been too depressed to self-injure, while there have been times when I’ve been too damned angry also. There have been days which I would consider above average mood-wise, and yet they end with self-injury. (To be honest, I prefer the term “self mutilation” as it is more graphic).

I want to be rescued, and there is a fantasy of someone seeing my mutilation and wanting to effect that rescue. But a fact I’ve come to know well is that the only person who can rescue me IS me, but that has yet to clear the desire to self-mutilate. You see, although I have no real reason to continue to do this, neither do I have a good enough reason to stop. I still don’t see it as being a very big deal, and in fact, I do more damage with my constant smoking than I would ever do with a razor blade, my teeth or a pair of scissors. For the most part, I don’t smoke to injure myself (although not trying to quit does having something to do with that).

Today I had a pretty good day, was productive and not depressed. One of my toes is bleeding. It started earlier with picking-at and ended with me using scissors. I really don’t think endorphins have anything to do with it, because with this sort of injury the pain isn’t present until 12 to 24 hours later. I can’t explain it, because I don’t have a good enough reason even for myself.


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