Can we talk about Carve the Mark?
Yes, I have reviewed this book (LINK). But there was something I wanted to talk about in more depth that I didn’t feel really fit with my review.
It’s “carve the mark.” Such a simple and yet powerful statement. And what it means in the story is… Wait a minute. SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK YET, BEWARE.
Okay, so when someone in Shotet culture is responsible for a death, they record the loss on their body through ritual scarification. They carve the mark into their arm, staining it with an extract to make it darker. This was probably one of the more powerful acts in the book. Especially when Cyra mentions that it’s not about the kill, it’s about the loss.
This was very powerful to me and I felt like I needed to share this for those that suffer from some of the issues I used to deal with. According to people today, I was a cutter. As a child, I suffered through physical abuse and never quite learned emotional control. So when things got worse for me, when I was in the depths of despair, I often sought a way to convert that emotional pain that I didn’t know how to deal with, into physical pain that I did.
To say I carved those marks out of loss actually feels like a remarkably accurate statement. It’s what I felt like, knife in hand as metal dug into my skin. I had lost something. I couldn’t quite tell you what it was, but in those moments, converting the emotional pain of grief and loss and even feeling of depression into lines of red across my body made me feel better. I had no prayer like the Shotet, I merely had my mantra. “I give up.”
“I give up.” It sounds almost like I was about to throw my life away every time, and maybe I was. But when I said those words, it was relief to me. I gave up on the emotional pain. I gave up on what was holding me to my grief. It didn’t always work, but it worked often enough. To this day when I feel myself spiraling out of control, I whisper those words. “I give up.” Sometimes I trace the old scars across my arms, darker and more even on the right since I’m left-handed. I look at those marks and I used to feel ashamed, guilty, embarrassed. I would often try to hide these marks.
After Carve the Mark, I don’t think I will as often. I’m not advocating cutting, but I do understand some that choose that pain. I’d advise you to talk to someone about it, even me if you feel that connection. Pain doesn’t have to be borne alone. Find someone to talk to, someone to share with. Many hands make burdens light or something like that.
But if you can’t bring yourself to talk about this, please know that you are not alone. Please don’t let it get farther than minor cuts. Scars, both emotional and physical, will follow you around for all of your days, but give yourself those days. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable and like the world is ending, but don’t let it end you. Don’t use a permanent solution for a temporary problem.
And I think that’s where I have to end this.
Falcon Storm was born in the frozen wastelands of Alaska. All that time spent in the dank, dark cold was quite enough, so he moved far, far away to the slightly-less-cold state of Michigan and now continues to seek out warmth by making others laugh. From role-playing games to spinning tall tales, he’s always been a storyteller. These days he writes about funny and fantastical worlds set just beneath the surface of our own and works from home assisting in the day-to-day operations of Novel Publicity and raising his and Emlyn’s sassafras daughter, Phoenix.