1995: Self-Mutilation

So amazing to read this. I started cutting myself in California when a boyfriend left me for someone else. I did it for a number of years in my 20’s, and stopped, interestingly, when my brother said “Buddha says ‘life is suffering’.” When I read that self-mutilation could be a consequence of sexual abuse, I thought it explained why I couldn’t have sex with my husband. This is the story I told on stage in Journey Into Courage. It wasn’t until years later, after our divorce, I discovered that I had been traumatized and that self-mutilation can easily be described as a result of trauma.  Jacqueline Winspear says of soldiers traumatized during World War I that “they would injure themselves as if to make visible the wounds to their souls.” This makes much more sense. I definitely felt that no one could see that I was in pain, though it was especially my parents who totally missed it.

From my journal for September 29, 1995

This is where I began the session with Karen, saying that I needed to let go of my hope/expectation that I could somehow make up for all the years of not being creative by producing full blast in the time that is left to me, that I needed to mourn the works never completed (like the quilt) and that I had to let go of the illusion that my creativity could “just” come alive again and everything would be fine.  Bringing my creativity back to life is turning out to be an unexpectedly, indescribably painful process, like trying to recover a limb after frostbite.  And I don’t know whether it will really resurrect into full functioning, or if I will be a limping cripple all my days.  Better to be a limping cripple than a frozen corpse, I think, but I hope the pain will end, or release, or at least come and go.  At the moment I have pain alternating with numbness.  I don’t understand why it is so painful, perhaps I will see it some day with hindsight, I only know that it is enormously painful, that what I feel in my body is a sort of prickly discomfort, with sharp melting pains, as though I were trying to get into a new skin that was lined with many small sharp blades, or as though I was lined with many small sharp blades, or as though I was trying to push the ability to feel from my core to my skin through a barrage of tangled brambles.  That’s the best I can do, and I understand better now the feelings behind the impulse to cut my skin with razor blades and write with the blood.

This work to understand about my creativity will have a surprising result on the very day this was posted.

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