A therapist had a surprisingly simple - and illuminating - answer. I began to cut at 13 years old when I was betrayed by the abuse of my mother and stepfather. I have now been betrayed again by my body. They are different circumstances, but the mind has its own memory - and it remembers what used to work.
The keyword was "betrayal", defined in part as "to be evidenced of."
After the abuse at home, I worked for decades to make sure my core was strong enough to never be betrayed again. I emptied out entire sections of myself, shoved re-bar in them, and poured concrete into the holes. Enough that even if the concrete got chipped or dented, the foundation WOULD HOLD.
Years passed, as they do. Betrayal turned into a stinging wound, then just a scar, and eventually it simply became a part of my history. The concrete, the metal rods, were still there, but I didn't need them and I went on living my life. There was nothing new to be entered into court, to be laid on the witness table, or to show evidence of. Betrayal was no longer a thought, theme, or fear.
Then at 35, the silent prophecy that I was completely unaware I had been born with surfaced and everything changed. But this time the betrayal came from something internal. Suddenly I was the problem. Suddenly the concrete core could not sustain me, because it itself WAS a part of me.
It became evidenced - overnight - that the very body I inhabited was greatly flawed and had spent decades lying to me. My mind remembers this feeling very clearly. It is called "betrayal" and it remembered what used to work.
Betrayal was dealt with by cutting. That's what it remembered. That's what it's trying to do.
You are right, Harvey, in that suicide attempts are often anger turned inward. A loss of control when you realize that you've actually lost control. A fury about that whittles you down to a single, dead-set decision cast in a single, dead-set breath.
As I cut when betrayed before, when trying to survive the anger at my family, I cut in trying to survive the anger at my disease. It is no wonder I would want to lash out at my body. To punish it, to express the anger, to try and find some desperate control over my skin where I cannot control my DNA.
I often bemoan the famous phrase "Knowing is half the battle." Thanks, GI Joe, but I'm already pretty good at the knowing parts. It's the fighting parts of the battle I have trouble with.
But knowing this...having some kind of answer, a new light shone on my own motivations...it does help.
It helps immensely.
"I'm convinced that most men don't know what they believe, rather, they only know what they wish to believe. How many people blame God for man's atrocities, but wouldn't dream of imprisoning a mother for her son's crime?" -- Criss Jami, Killosophy [via Goodreads]
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I intellectually know that I have a whole lot of things sorted and packed, but the fact that I haven't got much in the way of a sensible staging area makes everything very hard to see the progress, and many of my daily-use things are still front and center, even though the closets and cubbies are getting packed and stacked.
We'll be loading the moving cubes, and then I take some important things in my car and drive from the SF Bay Area to the Seattle-Tacoma area. I'll be crashing with my sister for a while; there will be some overlap between me and her boyfriend who is currently staying with her. I'm bringing an air mattress.
All of these things are hard. Occasionally my partner has to remind me that hyperventilating is bad, and maybe that anti-anxiety medication is there for a reason.
means my neighbours back from the pub drama doesn't even need to raise voices to keep me awake, and then neighbours start getting up and having loud cars around six.
not much sleep yet
but it's lovely weather.