Friday, 28 September 2007

Susie is self-discovering

While I was on holiday, I borrowed some books of Ami’s to read. Being Ami’s, they were generally autobiographical, and in most cases, involved self-harm as a pretty prominent theme. Granted, by the end of the holiday I realised what a stupid idea it was to read so many books on the subject; but there was one book ‘Skin Game’ by Caroline Kettlewell, that hit so close to home that it genuinely stunned me. If I’m honest I really didn’t enjoy the book, it was pretty dull and seemed a little pointless, but certain sections, I swear could have been written by me, they are so accurate to my life. And what’s more, they were thing’s I’d never really found words for or understood myself. So I wrote them down, and now I'm going to write them in here.

Susie is aware that is very long and some of it is pretty strange.

‘I wasn’t one of the popular girls; I wasn’t one of the outcasts either. I had always occupied the shifting territory of the middle ground, sunk low by my hopeless ineptitude at all sports involving a ball, raised up by my standing as one of the smart kids. I slid by on smart. I got by on last minute efforts – and what’s worse, I knew I could’

‘My sister, two years older had served as the measure by which my own inadequacies were perpetually thrown into relief. She was better at board games, better at drawing and painting and projects, more musical, more popular and, of course, smarter.
“Oh, you’re Julia’s little sister” her former teachers would say to me the first day I entered their classes at the beginning of a school year, and though I felt a swelling of prove by association, I could already see how there was no hope of proving adequate to all the expectations implied by that statement’

‘The plain fact of it was that I was miserable, I knew how I felt, but I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason why I should feel that way. I believed unhappiness was something you had to earn through a suitable measure of suffering. And what had I ever suffered? Not one damn thing.’

‘I’ll admit that suffering, or rather, the dramatic interest of being One Who Suffered, appealed to me. What I was feeling, anyway – it wasn’t nearly interesting enough to be true and tragic unhappiness. It felt neither romantic nor poetic, but rather grinding and unpleasant. I was highly suspicious of it, thinking it might, after all, be nothing more than a self-indulgent pettishness.
My situation appeared to me like the continuous twisting loop of a Möbius strip: I wanted to be tragic in order to justify simply being unhappy, but knowing that I wanted to be tragic made me the very legitimacy of the unhappiness’

‘“Why were you cutting yourself?” Mrs Warren asked. I did know, but what I knew, I couldn’t explain. I wanted to cut for the cut itself. Imagining the sticky-slick scarlet trails of my own blood soothed me.’

‘I can offer you my little penny-ante repertoire of teenage troubles. Collectively or individually, however, do they constitute sufficient grounds for taking up self-mutilation? Even as I set forth these explanations I want to withdraw them again. I think what I thought when I was twelve and thirteen and fifteen and twenty: None of these is reason enough; none of these is legitimate cause. Well, how many troubles
should equal a legitimate reason for self-mutilation? Ten? Twenty? 100? And how monumental must these troubles be?
We’re always looking for a logical explanation, but some things are too complicated to reduce to a simple equation of why/because. Maybe what drove me to cut doesn’t have any cause I can name.’

‘You might imagine that a person would resort to self-mutilation only under extremes of duress, but once I’d crossed that line the first time, then almost any reason was a good enough reason, almost any provocation was provocation enough. It didn’t take much to make me cut. Frustration, humiliation, insecurity, guilt, remorse, loneliness’

‘My scars ought to be a charm bracelet of memories, each a permanent reminder of it’s precipitation event, but maybe the most disturbing thing I can say about my history of cutting is that for the most part I cant even remember the whens and whys behind the wounds.’

I think I’d never have the bravery to actually write something like that where it would be my own words. I’ve always tried to justify my self-harm with psychological and meaningful reasons, to others and to myself; in the hope that they will somehow make it less stupid. If anything this book has made me face up to the fact that I actually have/had no real groundings or reasons for cutting; that any I do find are either fabricated or so thin that they’re bordering on emo.

But somehow reading these reasons from somebody else, in itself, justifies them to me. If anyone else was to say to me that they thought they were the only person that felt a certain way, I would tell them so shut up, because of course someone else does. But a lot of the time, I think I honestly thought that. Because everyone else I had known to self harm had a ‘serious problem with it’, and I did not. It was unusual, and perversely comforting to find that someone else in the world had as minor and worthless excuses for cutting as I had.

But then appears the question, ‘how many troubles should equal a legitimate reason for self-mutilation?’ – what defence is good enough? When can someone be excused for it, and when will the argument just not stand? Why is it that those with some other ‘serious’ issue are forgiven for self harming where as others without these side issues are looked down on for it?

At one time, I think I was told that I did not have an actual, serious problem with self harm. And from that moment onwards I believed it - that I was not a ‘true’ self-injurer; until I could give a reason for it that others could not dispute. Sometimes that was what caused me to do it; by cutting deeper and more times, I could prove to myself that I did have a genuine problem.

No-body knows the full story of my self-harm, there have always been time’s I’ve done it and told no one; and no one knows how imminent a problem it is for me. It’s taken me three years to work out that it’s a problem, regardless of how mitigating my reasons may or may not be.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Susie is well excited

It's probably strange how very much I'm looking forward to going back to school tomorrow. Normally I'm as gutted as everyone else, even seeing my friends isn't that big an incentive because I’ve seen them so much over the summer. But this year, I’m going into sixth form.

Susie is a big girl now.

I don’t really know how different it’s going to be from the last 5 years at CHS, but I think it’s going to be good. I’m looking forward to only doing subjects I actually want to do (there’s General Studies and P.E. I suppose, but who actually goes to them anyway?); I’m looking forward to having new people in my form and classes, and potentially new friends; I’m looking forward to having frees; I’m looking forward to being better friends with me teachers; I’m looking forward to being in non uniform, even with all the silly rules that have come in; I’m looking forward to pushing in front of small people in the dinner queue, and not having to go to assembly. But most of all, I’m looking forward to the opportunities I’m going to have with my friends. The people I spend my time with over the next two years are going to be the people end up staying in touch with into uni and later life, and I honestly don’t know who it’s going to be.

As much as I love having a huge group of friends who all (on the surface anyway) get on with one another and meet up in huge numbers; what really makes me happy are individual relationships with one or two people - friendships where each provides something special for the other which other friends do not. It sounds really selfish to say that, I think, it sounds like I just want more attention for me, I want to be liked more; but I actually think humans were designed to desire that kind of relationship. After all, without such desires, why would we choose to have boyfriends and girlfriends, and ultimately spouses? Granted, other animals choose life partners, less out of love than for the continuation of the species; but biology and procreation doesn’t explain why we have ‘best friends’, why we bond so closely to one particular person. It’s not that I want to have loads of ‘best friends’, but it’s that kind of thing that I think I’m missing: A mutual respect and love which is not necessarily greater than that for other friends, but is unique to that relationship.

Susie is probably too soppy.

Next year, it is my intention to build those kinds of relationships with people; to set routines which are never broken and hopefully, love even more those people who I love so much already.