Cutting and the Scars it Leaves
March 27, 2011
The following is a confession from an anonymous 18 yo girl:
My biggest regret ever is telling my boyfriend that I was a cutter. I thought he would be there for me, when I needed him the most, but he couldn’t understand and became distant. He had thought I was perfect, and when he found out this very not perfect thing about me, he couldn’t handle it. We broke up and I lost both my boyfriend and my best friend. I’m better now, but I still have scars, and I’m afraid to tell my current boyfriend about their origin, because what if the same thing happens?
The Tigerbeatdown response:
Baby, he did not deserve you. What a douche.
About a month ago, Garland and Co were accusing me of being a “butthurt”. Telling me I should get over my ex callously shutting me out of her life. And now here we have one of their own slamming this boyfriend for doing the exact same thing. According to the TigerBeat Society for the Morally Indignant, it’s ok for a woman to cut someone out of her life. But if a man does it, he’s a douche. Then again inconsistencies and biases are nothing new for these hypocrites.
I sympathize with this girl. I really do. I know what it’s like to think someone is in love with you and then, out of nowhere, they do a total 180 on you. But I can also sympathize with this guy. I don’t condone his reaction, but I understand why he freaked out. To people who are not familiar with this world, the idea of cutting your wrists is pretty scary. As it should be. This is a healthy reaction to unhealthy self-mutilation. If it didn’t bother him, I’d have to wonder about his own sanity.
I was freaked out as well when my ex told me about her cutting past. But I chose to stay. She told me a lot of disturbing things about her past, but I chose to stay despite my fears and apprehensions. Perhaps, against my better judgment.
I chose to stay because the cutting was in her past. She had convinced me that she was in recovery, trying to get better. I was willing to believe her and be there for her. I put my fears aside, because that’s what you do when you love someone. But this was before I knew anything about BPD. This was before she betrayed me over and over again. Her wrist cutting was the least of our problems.
Cutting is how many adolescent borderlines cope with the internal pain that comes with trauma-related disorders. Pain they have lived with most of their lives. As they grow older, they learn new ways of coping and symptoms can diminish. But the pain is still present. It just manifests itself in other ways. Unfortunately, some of those new coping mechanisms involve dumping that pain onto loved ones. Self-destructive behavior turns into relationship sabotage and emotional abuse.
BPD is usually awakened by trauma at an early age or cultivated by a lifetime of abuse. Sadly, many borderlines go on to be victimized over and over again, creating even more trauma. More pain. My ex was cutting her wrists in her teens. By the time she got to college, the cutting had stopped. There she was allegedly raped. Drama and tragedy followed her everywhere she went. Just when her physical wounds began to heal from the cutting, this event would rip open her emotional wounds.
What blows my mind is that, after all this, it never occurred to her to get help. Nobody in her family ever suggested she should seek treatment for her trauma. Imagine how much a pain a woman has to experience to compel her to cut her wrists. Men who experience this much internal pain snap and go on shooting sprees. But for most women, the signs of trauma are never that apparent.
People don’t even realize how disturbed these individuals are until they are intimately involved. Sometimes you are so clouded by emotions, you don’t realize it until months after the relationship has abruptly ended. By then the damage will have already been done.
If a person is willing to cut her wrist to relieve emotional pain, you can imagine what kind of harm she would do to you (psychologically). I don’t know if my ex would ever resort to physical violence. With a person who is that screwed-up, you never know. If someone is willing to cut her wrists, anything is possible. Including what most of us would consider unthinkable.
So while I feel compassion for this anonymous 18yo girl, there is part of me that believes her boyfriend was smarter than me. Smart enough to see what laid ahead of him. But there is also a part of me that agrees with the Tiger Downers- he probably was a douche. Borderlines (especially 18 yo girls) are notorious for making bad choices. They run after bad boys and run away from nice ones.
But here’s my advice to young borderlines- Don’t worry about boyfriends for now (douchey or not douchey). Worry about healing the scars that you can’t see. When you are healthy, you will attract healthier boys. Boys who are strong enough to stand by you. When you are healthy, you will attract the kind of boy who will treat you right. When you develop self-respect, you will expect to be treated right.
BTW it is your moral obligation to tell boyfriends about your cutting. If they are mature enough, they will find a way to cope. If not, then good riddance. But you have to be honest enough to tell him where you are at in your recovery. If you’re not even willing to acknowledge your disorder or not willing to seek help, then you are not ready for a relationship.
His concern should not be about the scars on your wrist. His concern should be about your emotional scars. The ones that caused you to cut your wrists. Because these are the scars that will have a negative impact on the relationship and his well-being.
Don’t worry about finding the ONE. Because chances are if you did, YOU would be on the run. Freaked out, not by scars on the wrist, but by intimacy and the fear of abandonment. Until you commit to treatment, you will always find true love to be allusive. Because chances are the reason why you ended up with a douche was because that was what you thought you deserved. When you are healthy, you will be surprised by how much higher your standards will be.