(originally posted 02/09 at wordpress)
Spewing Butterflies: A new column from camille
Translated as a random spew of emotional turmoil and thoughts Camille uses prose and different forms of writing to speak her mind. She speaks of true emotions and real life experience as a way to translate her world. This column includes a lot of her personal struggles through trauma, addiction, and domestic violence as an adolescent to a young adult. Using our culture as a framework, her perspective hopes to engage others to speak the truth of their experiences. Through her insight and awareness she strives to contribute to the growth of the woman’s movement.
Blades across my forearm. Silencing unspoken rage and fear. Pay attention.
I’m losing sanity. Losing my power. Fifteen. Angry and fearless. I lost myself. I lost touch with who I was. Never really knew as I drifted further away from reality. Boys, drugs I tried everything to escape. Promiscuity seemed like another good escape. My sexuality became my identity. The more sex I had, the more confidence I got. The minute he walked out the door, so did my worth. The cycle continued and I felt like I had nothing to lose. It was a trap. Eventually I had nothing left and suddenly woke up in a nightmare.
I watched a movie the other day called Thirteen. The angry teenager depicted me at that age. I was angry and invincible solely because I was willing to self destruct at any moment. The panic of a dysfunctional home. The heavy desire to fit in to the right group as if your life depended on it. Self mutilation was a way to use my voice. I wasn’t sure how to scream ‘SOMETHING IS WRONG!’ Well into my teens I had no idea I had a voice. My anger turned in against everything I hated about my world. My hormones attacked my body and I fell into a crazy whirlwind of emotion. I was the first to get my period, before my older sister, and felt more shame than anything. My period certainly didn’t mean anything close to a beautiful rite of passage. I remember my step mother gave me a dozen roses and told my dad. I was so embarrassed, like it was any of his business. I needed a group of women that explained the connection between what was happening to my body, what I was up against in the world, and what it means to walk proud in this world as a woman.
I find that angry teenager inside crying out for more. With all the studies of how women make less than men, go for lower positions, and essentially don’t value their work as much as they should, I almost feel intimidated all over again. Eating disorders and self mutilation are ways women control their anger turning it inward. With so much powerlessness in the world, it was the one thing I had control over. It was a place where I could escape, stay silent, and fall numb to the world I was being raised in. I tried to fit in, tried to be someone that I wasn’t, and at a cost for what? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that angry teenager screaming inside, not at the world, but at me to wake up.
According to Dr. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, she comments that self mutilation can be seen as a concrete interpretation of our culture’s injunction to young women to carve themselves into culturally acceptable pieces. During adolescence most girls are subjected to a feminine culture that influences them to lose to IQ, their identities and their self worth. Our culture doesn’t support empowerment of women and most of us lose a sense of what that means in middle school. Hormones, peer pressure, lack of supportive environment? Who knows the cause…. I would say it was a mixture of all three and then some.
Image used with permission by artist Mel Kadel at http://www.melkadel.com/. Original image, titled "un-scared," was created independent of the SheSheet and is not an official logo.