05/12/18, 02.43p // reading guide questions: “Snowflake Obsidian: Memoir of a Cutter (2nd edition)” // 1st read, (q’s 01-10/18)

1.) What is the importance of “Beloved,” to Willow? Was it symbolic in some way?
– the importance of Beloved to Willow was very significant. Beloved was a reliable friend who had been with her for a long time. i feel that Beloved was also an important artistic fixture, so to say, & though what everyone else in the house would see as a mess that needed to be wiped clean, Willow saw the splatters of paint & such were very much a part of Beloved

2.) In the beginning of the story Jo is a main character. However, she fades away as Willow goes through her inner journey. Was it necessary for Willow to break away from Jo to “find” herself?
– yes, because Willow was an empath, i would imagine that no matter what, she would unthinkingly put the needs of others way above hers, feeling that her loved ones were in pain, wanting so badly to be able to shoulder all of it for them, wanting to even try to actually fix the problems. & while all that’s going on, breaking away from Jo was a necessary step towards being able to focus on herself instead of everyone else

3.) Several characters struggle to feel “worth loving” throughout the book (Willow, River, Carol, Trinity). Do you think this is part of the human condition?
– (note 2 self: look up ‘the human condition’ for answer)

4.) a Major turning point for Willow is a traumatic event that happens to April. Why did this effect [affect?] Willow so strongly?
– an act of brutal violence like that, i can only imagine it as, if April had something like a live electrified object & instead of just looking at it thinking “this is so terrible,” to an empath like Willow it’s like touching the live electrified object as well. i also think a way to think about it as someone who has a telepathic ability could feel what the other feels
What are the virtues & vices of taking on another person’s suffering?
– (note 2 self: look up ‘vices & virtues’ for answer)

5.) Was Willow cutting shocking to you? Could you relate to it? Why or why not?
– not at all. if i’m being honest, having “(of a) Cutter” in the title was why i chose this book. so yes, i can relate to Willow in that way: i personally am someone who self-injures & has scars as a result. when i feel it’s safe to do so i like to read the stories of other people who engage in self injurious activities, so to speak. (i say that because ‘cutter’ is only one facet out of many in terms of self injury).

6.) Willow describes her cutting as “something else i could focus on, instead of focusing on my sadness.” What are other things people do to distract themselves from emotional pain or sadness?
– other things people sometimes do in order to escape from things like ’emotional pain or sadness’ could include, (as i’m sure is too often elected first) alcohol (personal experience ✅), immersion into digital worlds (all kinds of videogames, including Second Life*)…. i feel like a very common theme would be just trying to escape that emotional pain &/or sadness
Are these coping mechanisms any better or worse than how Willow chose to deal with her difficulties?
– from what i’ve learned from both therapy & life, harming yourself in any kind of way is ultimately a v unhelpful thing to do. it’s an indicator that something is wrong. i don’t know if you’re supposed to enjoy wrecking the one vessel you have to be in this world, (yet still i’m guilty of it)

7.) Why do you think Willow turned to cutting rather than another coping mechanism (i.e. drugs, eating, etc.)?
– because everyone is different i’ll never know the truth, but. cutting can happen in a myriad of ways & in that sense, once cutting yourself is an acceptable ✅ behaviour in your mind, it feels like trying to fit a big comforter back into it’s factory-made shape complete with having to stuff it back successfully into the clear plastic zippered bag that it came in. (that’s the only example i can think of right now).
other reasons i can think of would be that since Willow is an artist, she might already have certain sharp art tools at her disposal & no threat of the sharp objects being confiscated

8.) Explore the idea of soulmates. Do you believe they exist?
– soulmates, in my opinion, might exist because who am i to say one way or another? i experience emotions potentially slightly (or not) different from the average person, (though i know that statement is not very quantifiable) so what a ‘soulmate’ is to me isn’t necessarily the same thing as what a ‘soulmate’ to someone else might be
Do you believe River is Willow’s soulmate?
– i think Willow is the one who can answer that question (-:
When Willow first feels that River is her soulmate, she is, “…more ruined…than thrilled.” Does this fit with your belief about soulmates? Do they have a unique effect on us – even an ability to “ruin” us?
– a.) n/a
— b.) i would imagine that one’s soulmate would be one of the most important people to you in your life but the effect that that person has on you could potentially be tremendous, & emotions exist on a spectrum like everything else, you could be “ruined” by your soulmate, you could be [appropriate word beginning w/R]

9.) Willow asks her journal if she, “could choose to feel differently.” How much control do you think we have over our own feelings?
– my tendency is to think one doesn’t have that much control over our own feelings in the sense that i’m not able to will away my anxiety or depression, but i could, for example, change my surroundings (i could sit outside)
What can we do to manage our feelings, rather than dulling the pain through destructive behaviors like Willow’s cutting or River’s drug abuse?
– i think one of the usual first suggestions at this question would be “just talk to someone about it,” which is incredibly unhelpful in my opinion,
[that suggestion reminds me of the advice i received in high school from one of the students who had attended the same grade school as me. he saw me eating on a bench in the.. “quad?” area (grassy) by myself for the first couple of weeks of our freshman year & upon asking me why i was doing that, (“oh, i don’t have any friends, 😅”), his method of making friends was this: “you just go up to people & start talking to them”]
my first inclination is to suggest writing in a notebook/journal & keep track of your thoughts (& moods, if any)

10.) Willow’s self-expression is a major theme in the book. at one point, one of her most trusted friends, Trinity, tells her she looks like Satan and it causes Willow to have a deeper compassion for Shawn. Have personal struggles ever given you a different perspective on others’ outward appearance or inner pain?
– i think so, though naturally upon being asked to recall a similar event in my personal history of course my mind goes blank, like usual

*once in 2012, on twitter i tweeted something about Second Life being a “pretty fun game after all,” & i got a SL Elite Player ~in my mentions~ telling me i was wrong, it’s NOT a videogame, its [i_cant_remember_rightnow]