Sunday, September 22, 2013

Self mutilation

I'm writing this post about self mutilation just because it seems such an unlikely topic for me.

Can eating a dozen doughnuts, washed down with a pitcher of margaritas (with salt--human beings cannot exist without salt) be considered self mutilation? Surely it's not good nutrition.

Can getting multiple tattoos with incompatible themes be considered self mutilation? I'm thinking a ginormous Our Lady of Guadalupe on my back with a Frida Kahlo sleeve on one arm and a peacenik collage on the other arm. A banjo on my right calf and a flock of butterflies on the left. Maybe a crown of thorns around my neck?

Can a pair of size 7 (on size 9 feet) stilettos be considered self mutilation? Especially if they are pink patent leather with studs and platform soles? A far, far departure from the sensible shoes I normally wear. I couldn't walk half a block in such shoes without some sort of permanent damage.

I've been thinking about piercing my nose because it's such aberrant behavior for me. Would AARP approve or would it be considered self mutilation and, as such, improper for a woman my age? I've never, ever seen an ad for nose piercing in an AARP magazine. That makes me want it even more.

Truth is. When my husband left me and I was in the depths of misery, on a few occasions I wrote things on my arms with a Magic Marker. I'd get really, really angry and distressed at night, couldn't sleep, and I would write on my arms--words that cursed him and what he did to me. I can't really coherently explain why--I think it was just that I wanted some sort of visible, tangible witness to my pain. It was so immense and I was sure no one else understood. I didn't have the nerve to cut myself but writing on my arms seemed like an acceptable substitute. It was crazy sad. I was crazy sad. I would wake up in the morning and have to scrub off the writing so I could go to work. It was indelible ink and wasn't easy to scrub off.

Truth is. I don't mean to be flippant or to make light of those who harm their own bodies. My heart breaks for those--mostly young women--who cut themselves in an attempt to make their pain tangible. Their twisted thinking somehow leads them to believe it will relieve their anguish. It doesn't relieve the emotional pain. It just leaves scars on their bodies, scars that can be seen when the scars on their hearts can't be seen. With some effort I scrubbed off the words I wrote on my arms. The scars from cutting can't be washed off, can't disappear so easily. Take care of yourself. Please. I'm praying for you.


  1. Loved your take on what constitutes self-mutilation. May I share this with my community?

    Michael Silver
    Cutting Depression
    Stop Self-Mutilation Before it Stops You

    1. Yes, certainly. You may share it. I also follow the organization To Write Love on Her Arms. Thanks for your comment.

    2. I'm very familiar with them! Great, I'll post it to my wall this week. Feel free to follow along at


    3. Hi Donna, I posted it today here...

      Michael Silver
      Cutting Depression