Scars are souvenirs you never lose. –Goo Goo Dolls, “Name”
Blood transforms the warm bath water
and, in it, I see weakly
that this was a mistake.
–Joyce Carol Oates, “Passing an Afternoon”
One really ought to be afraid of self-torture. But it tempted me. It begged.
The dark place that my mind was fast becoming blends, in my memory, with
the dark womb of church: the chant, the fugue of prayer, the strange erotic
energy that carving a very small cross into my thigh with a nail had brought.
–Marya Hornbacher, Wasted
…I was trying to get equilibrium from two extremes: either I was so upset
that I had to cut myself to relieve it, or I was so numb that I had to cut myself
to get back to being there.–Helena, in Jane Wegscheider Hyman’s Women Living with Self-Injury
The plain fact of it was that I was miserable—though my misery wasn’t so much
sadness as it was a shrieking unease, a gnawing despair, which I had been trying
that morning to cut out of myself. –Caroline Kettlewell, Skin Game
And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal.
–Oscar Wilde, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”
My head was full of wild ambitious urges to hurt myself. I tasted the ambrosia of maddened impulse. I wanted my interior pain out in my body somehow. I wanted this vague pain to be specific. That’s how I explain it. –Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love
I wrote you a poem on my wrists. I used a razor as a pen and I signed my
name in blood. But you wouldn’t read it. –written by Molly Ringwald’s character in Surviving
She promised herself this: when she got back home, when she was alone, she
would draw the razor more deeply across her arm. –Joyce Carol Oates, “The Lady with the Pet Dog” ?
I hurt myself today
to see if I could feel.
I hurt myself, you said
to try to make him feel.
So I hurt myself again
to see if he’d see me.
I hurt myself again
and no, he never could see me.
–Tori Amos, in her version of Nine Inch Nails’s “Hurt”