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I will start with a confession. Since I was ten, I have cut my arms and hands with scissors. It’s been intentional. I have scars up and down my left arm.
Not even my best friend knows why.
For each scar, I developed a concise, explanatory lie. This set of three, here, they were my cat’s fault. Stupid cat, never liked it. And this long one was made by a rake tine when I fell in the yard. This one was the sharp metal bit on the gym locker. And this one, here…At any given point in time, I would have six or seven lies to keep straight. It wasn’t easy, but I deemed it necessary.
Occasionally, I would get the comment, ‘You’re a cutter, just admit it,’ but never with any degree of sobriety. In the minds of my peers, the ‘cutters’ were the kids dressed in black, wore dark eye shadow, and never spoke to anyone.
Now, I am generally a shy person, but I do well in school. I don’t have many friends but I trust the friends I have. My parents are decent folk who don’t drink or engage in illegal activities. My peers have no reason to think of me as someone who would do the things I have done. They don’t want to see me that way.
In schools especially, if you admit to a problem such as this one, it is you will be alienated. And if you decide you wanted to seek professional help, you will only be compounding your problem.
The message that has been sent to me and those like me is this: it is more socially acceptable to hide the scars and tell the lies than it is to tell the truth and try to recover.
When is it, then, that we, as a society, reach a point where the lies are no longer acceptable? When we stop seeing only what we want to see?
Why not now?
Several news sources have reported that nearly 2 million Americans could be labeled as ‘cutters.’
If you have not injured yourself intentionally, then you probably know someone who has; you just may not have taken the time to see through their excuses or lies.
Let me make this plain: people who engage in self-injury are usually not suicidal. They aren’t seeking attention. There is something wrong, even if the person doesn’t show it, even if they don’t quite know what it is.
Believe me, I know it can be hard to get someone to tell the truth about cutting. We are afraid of judgment, afraid others will view us differently.
But please, ask us anyway. Because we aren’t ‘cutters.’ We aren’t wrong.
We’re just people.