a) clawing up my legs and lower back is easier to conceal and ever so much more satisfying(3), and
b) it is beneficial for everyone involved that i put at least ten steps and three doors or lids between a known significant self-injury trigger (like, say....any component of 45's "campaign" for "re-election") and sharp objects, including hair-cutting scissors.
i mean, i tried cutting as a teenager, or rather: cutting tried me. i was pretty bad at it, thank god. focused too much on the music selection and mood lighting, forgot to inventory my plausible tools and dedication to the project at hand. then i had this bloody ankle and the usual ten steps through common space to the nearest bathroom became four miles of potential interactions with immediate family members to whom my little experiment would be difficult to explain, especially as i did not understand the behavior myself. probably one of the few situations in which my chronic and exhausting lack of privacy as a teenager worked in my favor, to be honest. then i couldn't afford to replace the exacto blade i threw into the bushes on one of the too-little-too-late occasions my high school screened us for weapons, so i scaled back to subtler methods: relationships(4), masking my life away, depriving myself of that which brings me meaning, not eating enough. eventually, i learned to subdue my more overtly dangerous impulses with the aforementioned steps and lids and doors. i'm still catching up with the subtle stuff.
distraction seems to be a key first step in managing almost every type of self-harm behavior, overt and subtle, whether i understand why i'm doing it or not. expending resources toward understanding why i am doing it in the moment, on the other hand, seems to make everything worse. better to document and examine after i'm a day or two on the other side of the episode. with practice, i've sometimes been able to combine a distracting activity with a beneficial behavior, like, say, writing, going for a walk, making art. sometimes. seriously, if the choice is between mindlessly sliding around tiles on "i love hue" or laying another eight inch scratch into my right thigh, i happen to think all my ancestors, guides, and allies in this world and all worlds would rather i mindlessly slide around tiles.
what i'm saying is: i thought i'd gotten over randomly hacking off my hair as a solution to feeling helpless.
really. i thought that period of my life was done.
until twenty minutes into last night's debate.
i am now coming to terms with my fresh new "bernice bobs her hair" makeover. off market flapper, here we go.
hundred year anniversary, all that.
ben says he likes it, anyway.
(1) please god tell me where i can download an app providing guidance on socially acceptable protocol for styling hair and wearing clothing in public as an adult, not a fifteen year old nonbinary kid in the early nineties? that way i can try it out for a couple months and consciously decide if it's remotely worth the resources i don't have to invest in it? i mean, probably not, i am who i am and that's who i'll be, but sometimes i can be trained to temporarily perform normative-esque behaviors if it means i might be able to land a reasonable job providing a livable wage and re-enter the economy. if i'm told exactly what to do, and i do mean exactly. my current presentation has roots in sensory processing differences, my personal variant of cognitive rigidity(5), and challenges with social interaction. i tried mainstream cosmetics for six months in my mid-twenties, and no. nasty slime on my lips, weird taste in my mouth all the time. itchy powders around my nose and eyes. the very concept of eyeliner. let's review: jamming a pointed stick of pigment into your eye socket? what misogynistic psychopath normalized that twisted bullshit?! no. basically, i like shopping for anything but books, witchcraft and weird antiques about as much as i like eating at the vast majority of restaurants: not very much. because: stores. have you noticed how horrible most stores are? i have yet to find somewhere i can buy clothing that isn't twenty-five sensory meltdowns in waiting on a good day. fluorescent lights! very loud music! the assertive sales staff! the stinky ass tie-in cologne! as far as hair is concerned, beauticians make me go non-verbal, or maybe it's just that they work in an environment that, by its very nature, always kind of smells like middle school girls trying to kill me. friends generally either share these same issues or are unable to answer the many questions i don't even know how to productively assemble. because of these (and other) accessibility concerns, i don't have the data i need around how to dress like a grown up. or the financial resources, but let's leave that for another time.
(2) or in the twenty minutes before i was dragged to the way beyond so fucking awful catholic "understanding your emerging sexuality on our terms" weekend retreat at my church in eighth grade that, again! i did not want to attend! for more reasons than i can count on mine and every reader's fingers and toes! so i decided that was the exact minute i desperately needed to rid myself of bangs. which i did. in two snips. very close to the scalp. then i covered my shame with a light blue bandana (oral sex in hanky code, BUT THAT IS NOT THE FLAG WE'RE LOOKING FOR.)
(3) also much more fun to explain to doctors!
(4) yeah, you can self-injure with relationships. we self-injure in relationships by investing too much in people who, at best, don't value us; who, at worst, exploit and abuse. we self-injure in relationships by pushing away the people who matter to us, by not doing everything in our power to share our limited time on earth with those we love. we self-injure with relationships by not acknowledging and getting help for trauma histories and mental illnesses that interfere with our capacity to build and maintain beneficial connections. that's only part of what i've figured out on this one so far. to date my ability to apply these lessons has been patchy.
(5) IT IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE