I have been asked quite a lot about why I used to cut and what led me to it. I share with you an excerpt from an email I sent to a close friend.
When we met I was already cutting. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t really “dead” and in actuality, I was indeed living in Hell on Earth. I started out making “points” on my skin of the constellation Orion (The Hunter) with a sharp pencil. As an astronomy geek, I knew that Orion can be seen from anywhere in the world, and that comforted me, something constant in my fucked up life. Dotting and tracing wasn’t exactly cutting, so I guess that doesn’t count. A bobby pin was my first instrument of choice. I broke it in half and removed the protective coating that makes it dull. Then I would use a Swiss army knife, cutting characters onto my thighs. I then progressed to the elusive box cutter. I would cut “Samurai” in Kanji (Japanese) on my left thigh and on my right, “Warrior” in Chinese characters. Kanji was easier, 3 cuts, Warrior took time. It made me feel in control and in some way, having Samurai Warrior inscribed in my skin was more like an act of affirmation rather than self-injury, staring at it in the middle of night, terrified to go back to sleep because of recurring nightmares that would make any modern day scary movie look like a cartoon. In the morning I would lie on my bed, with my legs propped up so it would be looking back at me. Sometimes I would recut, bleeding and repeating it to myself until I believed it, and that I could leave my room and face the outside, this war zone, a world I knew from a very young age was not safe and I had lacked the weapons to survive. I would stand in the shower and look at those two words trying to feel that I was that…and I would watch the blood from “Samurai Warrior” flow down and mix with the water. The cuts made my whole body burn. I would feel it underneath my clothes. I was numb. I was dead; a walking corpse. Blade to skin was the only way I could check to see if I was still alive.
I woke up on my 34th Birthday with one intention: let love in.
I was thrilled by all the Birthday wishes I wholeheartedly received that day as I continue my journey back to a connection with my body, a soul case that has, for most of my life, been a stranger to me. My day of birth has never been easy, and like many things in this world, I have a detachment from it. Being forced to evacuate my body at 4 years old because a monster made a choice to invade and steal my childhood is the primary reason that I have always woken up on the seventh of every July with an unexplainable emptiness. I would always ask myself, “How can I celebrate a life that I can’t wholly remember and was not allowed to live properly?” It has only been in the past three years that I have started to “like” it, but it was always a game day decision; whatever I felt when I woke up on my Birthday was the wave of emotion that I was going to ride.
It has been a little over twenty months since my first speaking engagement, and the number one question I get asked is why I have chosen to do “this” publicly, why I choose to blog, to speak, to rant, to rave. My answer has stayed the same; nothing positive came from staying silent. In silence, I was cutting, purging, bingeing, over exercising, depressed, suicidal, you name it, it was happening. I don’t know about you, but I like the whole Breaking My Silence thing a whole lot better. I woke up on the morning of my thirty fourth with no shame of my traumas and acceptance that I will never receive apologies from my abusers. But I have also accepted that as long as I am alive, I will always be a work in progress, and that I am living life with intention now, instead of waiting to die. Thank you to everyone that has stood by me, you guys are my real family. And to those that have walked away, you guys have been my greatest teachers, teaching me that rejection is protection in disguise, and that silence is, I believe, a staple in the cultural identity of Asians. I am thankful to these people for clearing so much room for amazing possibilities. My fellow survivors, in the wake of our monsters destructions, we will always rise victorious. One day at a time. ‘Coz they win when your soul dies.