Someone sent this through a mailing list I’m on… I haven’t read this book but it’s on my list… cutting by stephen levenkron
“you seem to have made quite a cut on your foot.”
She shrugs, looking embarassed.
“I’m going to tell you why you cut yourself.”
She looks surprised and relieved.
“When no one can reach you, even though you can reach and affect others, you feel empty and unreal. Life feels unreal, hopeless, devoid of fun. You get unhappy, and after a while, depressed, flat, blah, no ups, no downs, everything starts to matter less and less. You begin to say to yourself, ‘Why bother?'”
“How could you know that about me? I never told anyone about my feelings.”
“That’s not all I know about you,” I continue. “I know that when you feel despairing and the ‘why bother’ takes over, that’s when you are ready to cut or otherwise hurt yourself. At different times you may ‘choose’ to feel the pain or go into a trance, become numb and ‘watch the cutting happen’ – even thought you’re doing it, you feel like a spectator. It is at that moment that the ‘why bother’ goes away.”
She shakes her head. “Everybody who comes in here asks me questions that I don’t know the answers to. So I make them up. I make up some pretty good ones, too. But YOU come in here and you don’t ask me questions, you give me answers to questions that i have about myself. I still don’t know how you can do that.” She is gesturing wildly with her hands to emphasize her point. I smile at this emotionally lost thirteen-year old.
“I guess there’s a lot about yourself that you don’t know. I think that you are going to need someone to help you learn those things, and to help you grow up.”
“Nobody can do that for someone else!”
“Oh yes, they can. I can”
She looks worried. “But I’m the one who does that for other people. It would be too much for you to try to do that for me!”
“Apparently, you are too much for yourself to fix or help. But that doesn’t make you too much for me. I don’t even think that helping you will get me the least bit tired.”
“I get everyone tired. And you’ll get tired of me, too.”
“I know that you’re not used to leaning on anyone. But I think that a small part of you is beginning to believe me – that maybe I have an answer to your secret wish.”
Making a mock frown at me, “What secret wish?”
“The secret wish that someone COULD take care of you. That they would take such complete care of you that it would be as if you were a baby to them, and they would always be there to protect you and calm you down when you needed it.”
Her eyes became watery but she flexes her face muscles to prevent the tears from falling. I lean toward and gently tell her to let her face muscles relax. The tears begin to fall. “I think that those tears mean that you’re beginning to trust me.” I take a tissue and wipe her face. “I’m going to keep these tears in this tissue. They are precious tears; they mean that you can like yourself, and even hope for your future.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” she protests mildly.
“Well, I do.”