A Young Woman’s Account of Cutting: A Personal Story

An 18-year-old girl lay sprawled on her kitchen floor, crying profusely out of control with a knife in one hand and a phone in the other. Although she was awfully young to have her first apartment, she had convinced her parents to let her and her best friend live together as a way to prepare her for college away from home.

She wasn’t the type of girl who cut herself. As a varsity soccer player, track and cross-country runner, with a 4.2 G.P.A, and a closely-knit family, no one knew how trapped she felt.

This girl is me. And today my friends and family are still unable to comprehend why I cut myself, and I don’t think they ever will.

The story begins with a boy, Kody, who I met the summer of my senior year. My friend, Hunter, invited him to my house to go swimming, and before the night was over we had hit it off. Phone calls led to dates, and dates led to a relationship. Not long after, Kody was my boyfriend.

From here on out, our relationship hits a standstill in my mind. My counselor told me it’s because the mind can only handle so much, and then it starts separating the memories. Some memories are put away in the back of my mind and seem impossible to dig back up, while others are played over and over, always remembered.

Not all of the memories are bad. Valentine’s day is one worthy memory, along with eating at our favorite restaurant, Japanese Kitchen, where the cooks throw eggs into their hats and make an illuminating fire in front of their guests.

But, the memories that sit in the forefront of my mind are those that caused me pain, like the several times he cheated on me, including the night of his birthday party; the night I spent hours looking for the perfect present, after I had bought him a chocolate chip cookie cake with “Happy Birthday Kody” written on it with frosting.

During the relationship, Kody’s emotions changed very fast. It was always worse when he was drunk, and his temper augmented on top of it when he started taking steroids.

Our relationship was like a rollercoaster never going straight ahead, but constantly moving up and down. I loved him, but hated him at the same time. Deep down I wanted to end it, I knew it had to end, but I felt as if I had been hypnotized. My counselor explained to me Kody might be bipolar, and that a lot of people go through their entire life without being diagnosed and treated. She said that because I spent the majority of my time with him, in a sense our relationship became “bipolar” and in a way I started to act the same way.

But I can’t place all of the blame on him. I made the decision to stay with him; I made the decision to lie to parents, friends and sister, and I made the decision to drink.

One of the most vivid memories, and one of which I am most proud was at my senior prom. I made homecoming court and wore a strapless hot pink dress with crystals on the front. During the night, I could not find Kody. I kept asking people if they knew where he was, until someone pointed to the dance floor. He was kissing his ex-girlfriend, right there in front of everyone.

My heart ached, but he had cheated so many other times that my mind took control and I became furious. Again, we had been drinking, and I don’t know if I would have done what I did if the alcohol had not altered my judgment. I walked up to him, told him that I was so angry that I could hit him. He stuck his chin out, inviting me to do it, and I released all my hate, tears and pain, and launched my fist into his face.

Unfortunately, I didn’t care to look around and see who was watching. My punch took place only a few feet in front of the vice principal. I got suspended the next day.

My parents weren’t even mad at me, and I don’t regret what I did. I think they were proud of me for finally sticking up for myself. Today, I smile every time I think about that night. Of course, Kody, being the manipulative person he was, covered it up by breaking his own hand. He punched a wall telling others it was because he couldn’t hit a girl. But he still walked around with a busted lip for two weeks, so everyone at school could see what I did.

We still kept dating after that, don’t ask me why.

Kody never hit me. He would grab me and shake me, and the closest he came to ever really physically hurting me was when he stuck a cigar on my arm for a couple seconds. I still have a small scar from that.

Besides my own self injury on my arm, the biggest scars are inside of me. I was never physically abused by him, but I was verbally and emotionally abused. And today my invisible scars include low confidence, depression, and sometimes the “bipolarness” comes out of me. Not that I am crazy, just that I get scared, and if I drink a lot I turn into him. So I don’t drink.

My relationship with Kody didn’t even end after I cut myself. That night I was hysterically out of control and by myself talking to him on the phone. He threatened to break up with me, and because I was so dependent on him, I felt worthless, scared and alone.

I cut several times from my wrist up to my elbow with a steak knife. Each cut got deeper, and now as a consequence I have 10 visible scars to look at for the rest of my life. I had to get stitches at the hospital.

I hate the scars, mainly because of what I think people probably assume when they see them. Is she a cutter? No, I am not. Did she try to kill herself? No, I did not. Is she crazy? Only as much as the next girl.

I was bleeding so much that I got scared and called my friend Byron. There are still blood stains on the concrete from when I went out to get him from his car. He tried to stop the bleeding, but realized that paper towels and band aids were not going to cut it. I needed to go to the hospital. He called my best friend and her sister, and the three of them drove me to the hospital.

I begged them not to take me.

Everyone reacts differently when they see my scars. I don’t hide them like some people who have hurt themselves do. They are a part of me, a sad time in my life, but a stage that has made me into the beautiful person who I am today.

Some people are insensitive and impolite when they ask about my scars. I used to lie and say that I fell through a glass table because I was embarrassed. But I don’t think anyone believed me, because I am not a good liar.

Now, because I have accepted my past, I don’t mind telling people what happened. I just tell them it was a bad time in my life. However, it’s really none of their business, and I can only hope that my scars do not change their opinions about me.

The worst part was when my family found out. I know they think they could have stopped it, and it was their fault. It was only the second time I had ever seen my dad cry. Still today, he tells me, “Remember, there are people in Albuquerque who love you.”

I can’t really explain why I did it. And it didn’t even hurt while I was cutting my arm. Maybe because I was in so much pain emotionally that it overpowered my physical pain. I just wanted my emotional pain to stop. I couldn’t handle it, and I was so miserable — but I was not trying to kill myself.

I am so sorry for what I did, it was selfish and, at the time, I didn’t care how it would hurt everyone else. So many people love me and care about me, but the only thought that crossed my mind then was Kody.
Today, I am a junior at Pepperdine University majoring in Spanish and Journalism. My name is Brittany Yearout, I am 21 years old, I have five brothers and one sister, four parents, and the most amazing and supportive boyfriend who I hope to marry someday. I take 20 mg of lexapro every night, and I still see a counselor and psychologist on a weekly basis.

I am writing this for the 2 to 3 million Americans who self-injure themselves every year. I only hurt myself one time, but I want people who do cut themselves repeatedly to know there are other solutions to the emotional pain they feel. Talk to friends, meet weekly with a counselor or psychologist, who can provide you with the right medicine, or just write about it.

I have a success story and so can you.

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