Shirley Manson was a cutter before she knew what self-harm was.
The Garbage frontwoman revealed in a New York Times op-ed that she began cutting herself in her late teens after falling into a toxic relationship.
At the time, Manson, now 51, was also drinking “copiously” and abusing drugs, including ecstasy, and said she only was attracted to men who wouldn’t give her time of day.
“I had a desire to speak but could not find my voice. I wanted to change the world for girls like me, girls who didn’t fit in or want to conform, but I didn’t know how or where to start. And all of it drove me mad with rage,” she wrote.
“My fury was such that I knew intuitively if I directed it at any one person, I would more than likely land myself in jail. It was a natural, practical step to turn that rage inward, toward myself.”
Manson said the first time she cut herself was following a loud argument with her then-boyfriend at his apartment.
“I was concerned that we might wake his flat-mates, and in a moment of utter exasperation, I reached across for my little silver penknife, pulled it from the lace of my shoe and ran the tiny blade across the skin of one ankle,” she wrote. “It didn’t hurt.”
“I did it again. And then I did it again. I looked dispassionately at the three thin red lines I had made and watched as tiny little bubbles of my blood oozed to the surface.”
Manson, who previously revealed she’d been sexually assaulted when she was just 13 years old, expressed feeling more in-control and soothed in that moment than she had for years.
Thankfully, once her miserable relationship had run its course, she eventually moved on to find love with someone who respected and adored her, at which point she says the cutting “abruptly stopped.”
However, once the world at large began to respect and adore her as the frontwoman of one of the most well-known rock bands of her generation, her willpower began to crumble under the intense pressures of fame and the feeling of “impostor syndrome,” and she was tempted to cut herself again.
Ironically, it was also fame (and the touring demands that came with it) that prevented Manson from succumbing to the cutting.
“Cutting myself was not something I really wanted to get back into,” she recalled. “I managed to resist the compulsion to harm myself again. I muscled my way through the frustrations, the sick, unhealthy comparisons and the peculiar, destructive feelings that drove me to believe I wasn’t enough.”