Like a moth to a flame, like a dehydrated man to an oasis, like Oasis to shitty songwriting, the hardware aisle of Walmart beckons me. Not for any sort of project-- although, calling what I crave a project would be hilarious-- but, well. a certain item. Y'know. Knives. For cutting myself with. Usually on the upper arm, where nobody will see (but plenty of blood can come out.) It's funny, really. I can't explain *why* I did it back in February; or why that urge hasn't gone away, weakened, or at least mutated into something that doesn't feel… natural. It's just something I have a craving for. Not even as robust as a craving for ice cream after a dry meal, or that constant urge to slack off one feels after working themselves to the bone. No, it's just kind of a constant, whenever such a task is an option. "Hmm, I guess I could go for some self-mutilation right now." The urge is almost masturbatory: a habit many keep to performing not out of any genuine desire but merely routine. The difference is mostly that, well, I've not cut since February, and the pull hasn't changed. I suppose it could be called an addiction, although I only did it very briefly (plus, I have no idea what addiction actually feels like.) It's just something that feels nice.

My gut response to any questioning as to *why* is to just shrug, but reflection grants… an unsatisfactory answer. Two, really. One: I like watching the blood come out, and two: I like leaving scars. I'm well aware that this makes me look like a horror flick villain, but I assure you, I'm the girl who dies first or second for being too weird. Vaguely humorous deflections intended to keep this demiautobiographical spiel sardonically light-hearted aside, there is analysis here-- starting with the latter motivator, for I have no regard for law *or* order. My life for the first sixteen years or so was defined, as is true for many trans people, by my body revolting against me, and my mind's autonomy being denied by the intrusions of corners and lines where they didn't belong. Although my control was eventually restored (read: granted for the first time) to me, the years of being locked in the closet by my mother certainly took their toll on me both physically and emotionally. There's an immense pleasure to leaving marks, defining one's body as one's own. I'm lucky in that my skin scars almost worryingly easily, (a light scratch from a fern once left discoloration for years) but even then marks fade. Recently I've started unabashedly picking at any and every wound to grace my humble form, eager to prolong any injury. My feet, for instance, remain scarred from the poor decision to join a mobile protest in ten dollar flip flops more than nine weeks ago. Bug bites from months ago still show themselves. The rare cat scratch usually finds its stay extended. It's pretty clear that self-harm stems from control. It's like an animal marking its territory, except I've swapped disgusting bodily fluids for a more macabre one.

Gross similes aside, the first motivator is something I struggle to explain. Some part of me has always been fascinated by blood, as indicated by my young self's insistence that it tasted like strawberries. It super doesn't, four-year-old Rose. Why. Whatever. What she thought it tasted like doesn't matter, because the notable thing is that she liked drinking her own blood. I can't say that enthusiasm is shared to the same extent today, but I definitely am magnetized to that useful red goop. Maybe I'm secretly a vampire, or maybe I'm just incredibly dissociative and find the process of bleeding to further my distance. The world might never know.

Let's bring things back. Not even twelve hours ago I stood leaning over a cart at everyone's least favorite megamart, agonizing over where the hell the Command strips were, when I finally was forced to pass through the aisle featuring a few knives and other sharp implements. I lingered there, for just a moment, staring at the blades as I fiddled with the crumpled-up piece of loose-leaf telling me what I had left to buy. I pondered, for a moment, purchasing one. Again. My last had been confiscated during my previous bout after I had decided to come clean about my habits, and so I was paralyzed with the decision. I could've done it. I wasn't worried about being seen; after all, I had showed up to the store wearing what were essentially my pajamas, but… I don't know. That's why I'm writing this. I didn't buy a knife. I wanted to. I still want to. Hell, I could find something sharp in the house and snag it. There are so many options, and yet I sit here writing this instead of doing something, anything to get that satisfaction. I just don't fucking get it.

It should be noted that I can't quite comprehend why self-harm is really a bad thing when done carefully. Scratches and cuts are nothing when inflicted by other sources, but the second one turns the blade inwards, the alarms set off. I understand why emotionally, sure: self-destructive behavior is often undertaken by those who are suicidal. However, like, if you examine my behavior specifically, I don't really have any plans to do anything of the sort. Labeling myself as someone who has a *will to live* is strong, but in the endless debate between life and death, I tend to… abstain.

Hm.

Ugh. Okay. Yeah, I guess I get it.

It's not the behavior, exactly, but what it represents. The problem is that I still feel *everything.* The drugs might have pushed me back in my own skull a little more, and I might not be actively ideating the barrel of a gun to my temple, but I'm still not *well.* Self-harm is bad, everyone! What a revelation.

Even going through and digesting the reasoning behind "cutting bad" doesn't really solve the question of "why I gives a shit," though. I don't really fear scaring my mother-- she's the reason I hate my body so much in the first place, given she alone delayed my transition by multiple years-- so it's not a matter of keeping others happy, the way keeping my own life intact is. It's not a fear of being caught, as having a small knife on a college campus as a trans woman is not particularly unreasonable. It's not… some innate desire to self-preserve, because I'm pretty damn sure I'd be able to feel that. I guess it's just…

The power of societal pressure? The ease of doing nothing over doing something? The $12.98 price tag?

I got nothing. No conclusion, no real resolution. Just nothing.

Kinda like how I feel without a release.

---

hey there. rose about thirty minutes after writing this thing here. i'm going to be linking to this on twitter, but i want anyone reading to know that unless you're like, one of the, uh. three or so people i trust to talk about this stuff with (you probably know who you are) then i would rather not be messaged about this. this isn't, like, a plea for those people who are Allowed to talk about this stuff with me to barge into my DMs, though. i'm just saying they can.

---

back to essays
go back home