Cutter: (n) a person who repeatedly inflicts self-injury by cutting the skin, as to cope with negative emotions.
Her mother told me that Denise was “a cutter.”
Mother asked me if I knew what that meant. I did.
But it didn’t deter her from continuing to explain—vividly—the numerous times that knife went to flesh, carving out a hideous landscape of despair.
She tried to explain the diagnosis and the opinions the psychiatrist had for the source of the grief felt by Denice.
I listened. Well, no. I actually didn’t.
I was polite.
The reason I didn’t give much heed to the conversation was that I have learned a valuable lesson:
The power of “I don’t.”
- I don’t know what I’m doing.
- I don’t understand, even though I’ve been educated.
- I don’t have the power to save people.
- I don’t have sure-fire solutions to motivate change.
I don’t know what to do to stop a lovely young girl from defacing the beauty of her earthly canvas.
She likes to cut herself. She says it relieves tension and guilt.
It gives her a sense of temporary redemption from the screaming demons in her soul.
I don’t have the cosmic energy to take this damaged child of God and lift her out of her anguish.
What I have is “I do.”
I do have the possibility of screwing her up even further.
So I sat down and talked to her for about five minutes—mainly about myself. She even seemed somewhat interested. She was perplexed—because I’m sure she thought I was just another “healer” who had come to try to rescue her from herself.
You see, I do care. But I don’t have miracles.
I do love Denice as my fellow-traveler. But I don’t have magical potions or mysterious words to break the spell.
Sometimes it’s just good to know how limited we are so we can avoid the need to prove a point, and instead, emotionally embrace those who are hurting and hope—yes, hope—that some of the virtue of affection transfuses.