As for "former cutters" ... please, please, please stop starting off every. goddamn. time with "I cut, but I never did it for attention. Oh no, not me." You have no idea how quickly that kills your credibility. I have no doubt that there are plenty of people who do not go to great lengths to draw attention to their self-mutilation, but the "I never, ever showed anyone my cuts or talked to anyone about it because I did it purely for myself" attitude? Oh, bullshit. Bull. Shit. Even the people I knew who wore long pants and shirts year round and kept it hidden from their family members... well, they sure as hell talked to me, didn't they? No pride, no sense of showing off... but not a lot of shame there, either. Just another part of life, y'know? But the desire for attention is still there... small, but there. You say, "Hey, I do this and I can't stop, what's wrong with me?" and I answer back, "Poor dear, nothing's wrong with you. But I hate to see you hurting." We all want to be loved. We all want to feel special. To know that hurting yourself hurts other people is a special feeling. An epiphany. Something you can get a little addicted to.
I cut for attention. And I don't really mind admitting that. I mean, I did theatre for attention, I draw for attention, I got good grades for attention, I argue with people for attention...
Anyway, peoples' ideas of what defines a serious cutter and what does not are sorely, sorely inaccurate. Someone might be tempted to say I'm a teenie-bopper attention whore because I don't always cover up the scars on my arm? How dare I not make sure that you are spared from a part of my body that you find grotesque?! But I wear t-shirts all of the time. Any season, any climate. I've done so for years. I also work with paint or chalk or clay, and have foolishly gotten into the habit of rolling up my sleeves to keep from ruining my clothes... my god, how could I be so thoughtless as to subject other people to the scar tissue on my arm? I must not be 'serious'! I can't possibly be a 'real' cutter!
Oh boo hoo. 'Cutting' isn't a club. It isn't a 'subculture.' No afternoon get-togethers for tea and crumpets. I don't want to hang around with these people in mass numbers. Some of them intimidate me, some frighten me, and some irritate me to no end. All self-injurers are different people, and something like cutting isn't going to bring a bunch of different personalities together on a long term basis. All 'cutters' do not have some code of solidarity, standing up for one another... absolutely not. (Ask me about the kid in the hospital who told me smugly that my scars couldn't be from cuts, they had to be burns... as if I wasn't doing it right for chrissake.) Besides, I don't give a shit what other people think of the scars on my arm; they're there, I can't take them back, move on with your lives. I hate the romanticism that has been associated with cutting; I wrote a thinly-veiled rant called "Grue" because of it. Cutting yourself is disgusting. It can be painful. It's degrading. It stems from ugly emotions like hatred and aggression and depression. It can land you in not-fun situations, like hospitalization or interrogation by authority figures. Obviously, it can make you a topic fit for ridicule. And yet, I still do it. It's part of my sense of self. It's something I can use to comfort myself or manipulate others. I'm competitive, and how many or how deep your scars are seems to translate to "How big are your problems?" Part of me hates the scars on my body, but part of me is fulfilled. Hurting myself fills holes in my life and personality that I'm afraid I could not fill on my own. Is this true or rational? No, I suppose not. But even in the face of the rational, I prefer self-mutilation. Self-mutilation also takes away feelings that are too extreme, whether they are emotional or sensory. Sometimes I hurt myself to startle my mind out of a bored stupor. That's just life for me.
What's truly disturbing to me, though? Other people trying to fit self-injurers into an inaccurate description that never changes. People self-mutilate for so many reasons, there is no possible way for an ignorant individual to determine who deserves the 'title' of "cutter." People react in so many different ways... have we all suddenly forgotten about the concept of individualism? Does it cease to exist here? A psychatric diagnosis is nothing like a diagnosis of cancer or of the 'flu. There are only guidelines, not a set progression of symptoms. It's called an "inexact science" for a reason, folks.
This is it... this is the whole point: You cannot rationalize this. You cannot use logic to figure out why a person cuts, bites, slaps, chokes, burns, or otherwise mutilates himself. You cannot say "This person does it for attention and this person does it for ___ reason." Unless you are a psychotherapist who has worked fairly extensively with people who cut, you should keep your damn mouth shut and not try to make a diagnosis. You will not understand. People who hurt themselves don't understand. Your logic is wasted. This is a much, much different territory.
We're through the looking glass, people.