In the Goo Goo Dolls song, Iris, I am particularly drawn to one line:
“Yeah You bleed just to know you’re alive”
My first real introduction to cutters occurred years ago when I worked as a mentor with a group from our church in a program designed to help kids with addictive behaviors. Fascinated by the concept, I bonded with a few girls in our group who were cutters and wondered why I had never thought of it myself. Truly. Cutting wasn’t a thing when I was young. If it had been, I’d have done it. People think it’s strange when I say that, but it’s one hundred percent truth.
My teenage years were so full of darkness, hopelessness and despair, it truly was only by the grace of God I’m here today. Those closest to me at the time had no idea the depths of my depression and misery. In hindsight I believe my darkness birthed an empathy in me toward hurting people, and desire to not leave them where they are.
The interesting thing about cutters, though, is they don’t do it to hurt themselves. They do it to make sure they can still feel. Their minds have become so dull and numb from the pain they experience that they truly feel nothing. But they don’t want to feel nothing. They want to know they are still alive and so they cut to make sure.
The girls in our group usually cut in inconspicuous places, their abdomen, thigh, forearm. Their appendages would be filled with tiny scars and cuts. The most extreme i ever saw was a girl I’ll call Sophia.
Sophia always wore jeans, even in the blazing summer heat. I’ve known Sophia for her entire life. I will spare some details, but suffice to say her life has not been easy. She and I share a special bond As a young, extremely rambunctious child, her smile was infectious. She was full of life and energy and always brought a smile to my face. As she grew, I watched the smile slowly disappear from her face, replaced by a withdrawn, sullen expression. Often aloof, she doesn’t integrate well with other girls her age; she is looking for her niche.
She had an opportunity to be baptized. To prepare for the baptism service, she put on a pair of shorts. I didn’t even know she owned a pair. Without a word about it, she emerged, exposing her legs to the public for the first time in forever. Both legs, from the knees down, were covered in literally thousands of tiny scars, each about a half inch long, in every direction, creating sort of a cross hatch pattern on her legs. Not a quarter of an inch of skin was free of a scar.
Some of the girls with us were quietly horrified. I was not. My heart bled a bit, and I embraced her and her decision to become a new creature in Christ. Like me, she will evolve over time. She is like a butterfly, given a new lease on life. She’s in my prayers and thoughts, just like so many others on this journey to figure life out.
I believe the scripture above that says we are new creatures in Christ, but I believe the transformation happens over time, as we allow God to work in our lives. Sure there are some with a radical change, but most transform as they are able to align their desires with Gods, which is usually not instantaneous.
My own journey from darkness has been life long, and there is still deep within me a tendency toward it. I must be vigilant to keep myself focused where I need to be to avoid the trap of falling into my old patterns. I am confident that God is still shaping Sophia and me (and you) into who He wants us to become.
Be blessed today, my friends
The book, Masquerade, chronicles Charissa’s journey through depression. If you have read it, thank you! If you haven’t, you can get it Here
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