Here’s where I am going to allow myself to be pretty vulnerable and share my story of self-injury. It by no means defines who I am, it’s just been a huge struggle in my life and my story may help others and I will feel empowered by sharing it. I have struggled with self-harm for 24 years and I believe that will always be something I will forever need to take a stand against. Also, let me say this…I am in NO way glorifying self-harm. I struggle with it but am very much against it…that’s a struggle in itself.
I began self-harming at the age of 12. I was going through a lot of things at the time and felt my way out of that was to take my own life. Luckily, I was too afraid to do that but in turn, I ended up self-harming. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a very, very long battle. Cutting was my drug of choice. I began to feel as though it was helping me through my struggles. I felt that it distracted me from any negative emotions I was feeling. But was it really? I would come to realize that was not the case, but many years later. I began to feel as though I deserved to hurt myself. I allowed myself to believe no one loved me, no one cared, no one was there, and I was all alone in this world.
Cutting became my vice. It became my go to when I was feeling bad, or sad, or hurt, angry, scared, etc. Sometimes even if I felt happy or “okay” my negative self-talk kicked in and I told myself I didn’t deserve those good feelings and I would cut. Quickly it turned into an addiction, where I thought I needed to do that in order to feel alive when emotionally I was feeling anything but alive. That is a horrible place to be and I have been there countless times. During my teen years, I was self-harming a lot and I had excuse after excuse if someone saw cuts on my arms or legs. I spent so much time lying about my struggle with self-injury. It definitely took a lot of energy to do so. I didn’t confide in many people about what I was going through because it was embarrassing. I was ashamed. It was like some dirty little secret for many, many years.
Over the last 24 years that I have battled with this addiction, I have had to get stitches and staples. I have had people fear for my life. I have had friends that were scared for me. I’ve had family so scared for me. I’ve been in the place where I have been scared for myself plenty of times. Cutting is like playing Russian roulette. I never knew how deep I would cut even if I thought I had it under control. There were many times I thought I was in control and I would slip. I’ve ended up in the ER quite a few times. I’ve been in psychiatric hospitals due to the self-harm getting out of control. Talk about fear. I’ve done the therapy, the groups, the homework, the talking…so much talking. Yet I still found myself struggling….
I am not proud that I chose to self-harm. I am also not ashamed. I turned to self-harm to keep me going. Self-harm wasn’t “attention seeking” for me. I kept my struggle hidden for a long time. Self-harm was my way to escape from emotional messes I found myself in. I allowed myself to believe that it was helpful, and it wasn’t until many years later that I realized how harmful it really was and in so many ways. By that time, I was probably struggling with this for a good 15 years already. I knew what the therapist told me, how it wasn’t effective, etc. I didn’t care. Even in my 20’s. It didn’t matter to me. I was convinced it was helpful. Still, I find myself convinced that it is, logically I know that it is not. It leads to more struggle in the long run.
I am now 36 years old and I have still had my setbacks and have stumbled as far as self-harm goes. I am not proud of that, but I am proud of the fact that I am able to get up, dust myself off and continue fighting. There is hope for people who battle this addiction. I never thought there was until certain people opened my eyes and I finally allowed that to happen.
We are all human and are not perfect. I am far from perfect. I still find myself in a place where my automatic thought is to self-harm. I have to stop myself and realize that I am worth more than that. Someone once told me “your body is a temple, do not destroy that temple.” My body is sacred, and I don’t need to add to the many scars that are already there. I have a hard time fighting against that but when I do fight those urges the feeling of being victorious gives me a greater feeling than cutting has ever given to me. Those type of feelings are the ones I need to focus on.
So while I still struggle with the urges to self-harm from time to time and sometimes are worse than others, I know deep down I can overcome that and refrain from acting on those urges and impulses. It’s not easy but it’s possible. Even at times when I feel most hopeless I can look back and say, “Wow I fought the urge that time, so I can surely do it now,” and that helps me to fight the current urge I may have. Sometimes I have to remind myself that while I felt I was most in control when cutting, the real control is me NOT engaging in that. That’s where my power and strength lie. To whoever reads this that is struggling with self-harm, your power and control lie with you fighting against the urges. It’s not impossible to take a stand against self-harm, it’s also not easy either. But the results are SO worth it. My advice for anyone going through this is don’t give up, there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although, I haven’t overcome this 100% that is okay because I am certainly on my way to accomplishing that. I will not be defeated. I will not give up fighting for myself. I am God’s creation and destroying that isn’t an option any longer. That is what I am leaning on.
This is a quote I found online that I thought was worth sharing…
“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.” ― Cheryl Rainfield,Scars