Saturday, February 25, 2012

Confessions of a Cutter

Note: This is a work of pure fiction. I have never deliberately cut myself. Except when I was about 5 years old, and purely as an experiment, I tried to cut my finger with the knife the way my mom cut vegetables. I don't intend to ever deliberately cut myself. Ever since I saw the movie Secretary, I have been curious about why some people cut themselves and wanted to explore it in writing... Hence, this piece.

I cut myself because I want to feel. I cut myself because I want to cry. More precisely, I want the relief that comes from crying.

Do you know that spot on your body, which is exposed to so much stimuli that it has become less sensitive than the rest of your body? You need to apply extra heat or extra cold or a sharper pin to make that spot feel something. I suspect my heart has become like that. It is already crushed, run over and broken so many times, I don't even feel it any more when it breaks into even smaller pieces. I know that it is breaking. I can see that it is breaking. But I can't feel it. I can't feel the pain. And because I can't feel the pain, I can't cry.

There have been so many tears over the years, the tear glands are almost dry and won't give up their precious fluids any more. I can't scream or curse or bawl, and use that as a valve to release whatever pressure is crushing my heart.

No pain, no cry, no relief. That is why I cut myself.

I remember how it started. There had been a betrayal, a heart break that was totally unexpected and shocking in its suddenness and finality. The shock had numbed me for days. I went through my life in a daze, mechanically, without fully being conscious of what I was doing. I don’t even remember anything from those days. Except how that phase ended. I was cutting honeydew melon when the knife slipped and cut a finger. It wasn’t a big cut. Not even a deep one. But that cut was enough to cause a sharp pain which cut through my numb daze. I remember looking at my finger with wonder as the blood oozed out of the cut and spilled down in pretty little red drops on the green honeydew slices. I moved my finger over the cutting board, letting drops spill randomly over the fruit. As I admired the immense bright beauty of those red drops on the green slices, my vision blurred and the tears flowed. My knees weakened as I slid down on the kitchen floor and cried myself to sleep right there. When I woke up the next morning, I felt refreshed and healed. The cut still needed a bandage though.

It must have been a couple of years later when the next heartbreak struck me. This time I knew exactly what to do. I went on a shopping trip on a sunny Saturday morning. There was a feeling of sacred excitement as I left my house and went about procuring the items. I bought a beautiful wooden jewelry box. Cotton balls. Rubbing alcohol. Gauze pads. A whole bunch of band aids. An antiseptic ointment. And several surgical blades.

I returned home and laid all the items on the bathroom counter. I placed one leg up on the counter, folded at the knee, my thigh exposed. My breathing was long and deep. I was in a meditative state, but acutely aware of everything. Every sound, smell, sight. I wiped a spot high up on my thigh with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. I unwrapped a surgical blade from its package and held it up. My hand shook. Only slightly. Only for a few seconds. Then, steady as a surgeon, I drew a horizontal line across my thigh. Just about 3 inches long. Not very deep. The blood welled up in a bright, shining red line before I felt the pain. Then, the sweet, sweet sharp pain. Then the explosive release of deep sobbing tears. It was wrenching. Ecstatic. Orgasmic. The tears were the lens of the microscope through which I could see the pieces of my finely broken heart.

By now I have several scars on my upper thigh. Some new. Some old. There will no doubt be more that will join them in the future. All very dear. The notches on a casanova’s bed frame count his conquests. These scars count my healings. They don’t count my heartbreaks, which are too many to count anyway. These scars are the traces of the doorways through which my tears and my pain bled out, and my healing flowed in. To make me better. To make me beautiful. To make me loving. To prepare me for the next heartbreak, like the lamb is raised for the next slaughter.

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