Readers Shared Stories of Why They Cut Themselves
I received so many of your responses as to why you, or someone you know, cut themselves. I'm blown away. Thank you for taking the time to respond! I want to keep talking with you about as many reasons as I can find. Why am I doing this? Because helping you to understand why you do what you do, is a great way to start you down the road to recovery. And trust me, every cutter can recover.
The over-arching reason behind why people cut is this: If you are a cutter, you self-harm, causing pain to your body, to try to cover over an even deeper emotional pain. All cutters believe the physical pain they inflict upon themselves gives a temporary sense of relief from the intense emotional pain they are feeling. I want to uncover a few more reasons why people cut. But keep in mind, you or someone you know, always cuts for some kind of relief. So, let's begin.
People cut to release anger, without hurting anyone else.
Cutting can be a substitute for anger toward someone else (usually an authority figure). Many cutters admit to being in painful or abusive relationships. Most people in abusive relationships feel stuck, or imprisoned, in that relationship. They feel powerless, even though their rage and fear scream out to be released. Cutting gives them that sense of release.
Janet uses cutting to release her anger. Every time I get pushed into walls or thrown on the floor or chewed out for something I didn't do; it makes me go to the bathroom where I keep my knife and I start cutting on my stomach and upper part of my legs, so no one sees it. I wish I knew how to control this. Janet does not understand although cutting herself does give her a feeling of relief, it too, causes her to feel trapped all over again.
People cut to deal with abandonment and loneliness.
Many people cut because they feel so isolated, abandoned, and alone. If you are a cutter, there's a good chance you are also a loner, and what you do is often in secret. You don't feel like you fit in anywhere, and so you fit into your own little world. Cutting brings some pleasure into that little world, giving a sense of purpose and something to do to feel better about your isolation or being rejected. Ashley said she's been a cutter for three years now. I cut myself to ease the pain I feel when I think of my dad. My dad left me on my 11th birthday. He did not say bye, or I love you or see you soon nothing. So, I began to cut my wrist. Then he came back on my 12th birthday drunk and then left two days later. About a week later I asked him why he left, and he said he needed to drink. Then I cut myself every day. Now I am 13 years old, and I still cut myself over him.
Ashley is so lonely and feels so neglected by the man she loves the most. She feels she has no place to turn but to herself, and those fleeting moments of relief cutting offers her. Can you identify with Ashley? I promise you, you or someone you know, most certainly can. There is hope for you.
People who cut may have had a traumatic experience
Living through abuse, violence, or a disaster are all examples of a traumatic experience. Often, when someone has been through a disaster, they become emotionally numb, or shut their emotions down in order to avoid reliving the pain, over and over again. While that seems like a good idea, it is a huge mistake. We are not designed to be emotional zombies, or to be dead inside. In the end, the cutter desperately wants something to help them feel alive. Sadly, cutting may feel like a way of "waking up" from this sense of numbness and emotional death they have put upon themselves. That is why it is so hard for many cutters to turn away from cutting. When they self-mutilate, it's the only time they really feel alive.
Jennifer powerfully describes how she uses cutting to deal with her trauma. As you read her comments, ask yourself, is she describing me? Approximately nine years of continuous sexual abuse has left me with an irreversible impulse to destroy myself in whatever way possible. I hate myself for something that I couldn't control, something that was not my fault, but I don't persecute my abuser, only myself. The plethora of emotions are all turned inward. The scars on my arms are permanent tattoos of worthlessness and pain. I can't cry anymore, so cutting does it for me."
Amber said cutting is not about the physical abuse but the internal. I was molested once when I was younger and again when I was 16 on school property. I never turned the guy in and guilt about it drove me to cut even worse. I became addicted to the relief and escape cutting gave me from not having to feel so dead inside. Cutting may make you feel alive, for a while, but in the end, it delivers its own sense of deadness and worthlessness. In a sense the so-called cure becomes far greater than the sickness.
Other Reasons People Cut:
- A lack of ability to express feelings
- To feel in control
- To cry out for help or get attention
- Self-hate or they think they deserve it
- Because of other mental health problems
You might see yourself in one or many of these reasons. If you do I want you to know you can break free of your addiction. Don't lose hope!
Please continue to tell me your stories. I am moved by your bravery. Musician Michaela Hatfield shared her story with TheHopeLine.
As you tell your story, you are coming out of your emotional hiding place and saying you don't want these horrible feelings to have control over you any longer.