There are only a few that know this about me. What I am about to say will come as a huge shock to those that have known me for years. During my middle school years it was hell for me. My dad left me when I was 12 years old for selfish reasons. At 13 I developed bulimia and I began to self harm at 13. I used to cut my wrists and my thighs. I pulled my hair out as well as bang my head against the wall several times. I tried to kill myself five times because of the pain of not having a father figure. With the encouragement of my counselor I stopped cutting on October 8, 2012. I joined jrotc (junior reserve office training corps) in high school to rebuild my life because by the time i entered high school I was on the wrong side of the road. Now the senior aerospace Science instructor in jrotc is like a father to me. Through the years that I have been a cadet he was there for me through the pain and joy I’ve faced. Jrotc saved my life and I am forever grateful.
From the outside looking in my life seemed fairly perfect. An only child, loving parents, pets, I lived near the beach, I had a lot of friends, my home life was good, I made good grades…ect. But on the inside I was lonely. I had a lot of anger. I resented my parents for my lack of love. My perception wasn’t clear. I began to cut in middle school and stopped in high school. I experimented with other types of SH. I needed an outlet for my anger and hurt and loss. Thankfully one day I decided that this wasn’t helping my life. It was making me miserable. So I stopped. I was always able to stop, I just didn’t know how to control my emotions. But thankfully I have learned. I poured my heart and soul into journaling. I had found a safe place to express my feelings. I wrote deep and dark poems. I could almost feel the anger seep out of me and become the ink in which I wrote. It was like magic. Since those dark days I have given my life to Jesus, gotten married to an amazing man who loves me likeJesus does, and I’ve found a career I’m passionate about. I haven’t SH in years. And I have gotten a lot better at handling my urges and temptations.
A tender feather
Of a swan or a blackbird –
The soft tickle of fine fibres
Brushing by my flesh,
Yet beware, sharp prick of the point pierces deep –
A smiling, smirking scream,
Be careful, the wind –
A leaf glides on the membrane of water,
Streaming tears on the cheek,
But with little feet I plant myself,
Rooted in stones –
Stones of reality,
Stones of reality,
The journey to ‘Better’ –
Strenuous, long –
A winding path is pastures;
The sky does twist,
He blows me down
And I must myself get up –
Or a story, rough,
Unbeknown of yet –
Painful pride seeps through pages, pages;
Pride ‘I’ll make it’
‘I made it’
‘I made it’
And the quieting pain of ahead.
- Alice West
It is interesting, is it not, the ability we humans have to hide? Like the world’s best chameleons – we can blend not just our looks but our very personalities to better fit in the world around us. But unlike the chameleon, the effect of these changes is not fluid. Our brains are not infinitely flexible. Close, perhaps, but they do have hard limits. Eventually, the price of constant blending is the loss of the background image – and we have need of a base for our selves.
While self-harm does not always stem from abuse, I would say that many of us who were subjected to long-term trauma end up with a desire for self harm. Why not? If those we depended on for everything thought we should be hurt, how can we have any other identity? Through drugs, through eating disorders, through any and every way we can indirectly or directly cause ourselves pain, we find what we are most used to. In a twisted way, what brings us “comfort” and a “sense of home” is pain and hurt. And there is nothing quite like taking command of the pain, is there? When you can control it, deliver it, see it, feel it, numb it, and wear it – it can no longer be hidden. It is the chameleon saying “I HAVE MY OWN SKIN, YOU CAN SEE ME.” Even if you cover it up with sleeves and scarves and bandages, the mirror screams it. “YOU CAN SEE ME.”
How do I know this? I lived it. Live it. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Self-injury is not something that “just goes away”. It can’t be “positive thought” out. Telling someone who has grown used to and dependent on pain to “just stop” is as useless as spitting on a forest fire. And for those of us struggling to get better, it is maddening to have so many misunderstand. We don’t do it for attention. We are shamed by what we do. Most of us want to stop – and even if you don’t now, you will. I promise. At some point you will come to realize you don’t live in a vaccuum. No matter how much you might not want to believe it, there are people who care about you, who don’t want you hurt or dead, and you do make a difference in the world for the better. Like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, each one of us has some effect for good on this planet, and your actions directly affect others. So – you will come to a point when you say, “I have to stop.”
The good news. You can.
It won’t be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The truth is, if you have done it for a long time, it might take you a long time to stop. It’s also true the desire never completely leaves you. But you CAN STOP. And you need to. We need you. The world needs you. It is just that simple. The world needs people who have hurt and understand that hurting is not the answer.
Chances are you will need help. For most, if not all of us, that means professional help. Good therapy is not hocus pocus. It is hard work, and it can’t be done with just anyone. You have to find the right person to trust your soul with, and I know how next-to-impossible that can feel. You’ve spent your whole life only trusting in the pain and yourself. How can you learn to do otherwise? I don’t have an easy answer. And the therapist doesn’t do it for you. At best, they are a guide in the darkest of your places – and when you finally get into the light you will walk on your own. But you need help to get out of the pit you’re in. The kind of darkness you have been carrying needs a light and chances are you are stuck without one. People carry lights inside them. Find someone to share their light until you can get yours bright again. Then – who knows – you might be a light to others.
Why should you trust me, you might ask? Who the hell am I to speak to your pain, your scars, your experience? What right do I have to tell you what to do?
Because I am you – on the other side of where you are now – but part of me will always be there. I have the light and the dark, and I still find myself lost there from time to time. If you saw me, you would never know at first that I was anything but successful; solid marriage of 20 years that has survived its’ share of hardships; two healthy, uber successful children who excel at all they do; thriving art business; and animal rescue and therapy work that changed countless lives. But I know the darkness. I barely survived it. Look closer and you will see the crisscross of scars, the marks of pain that life has left on me – and I have helped make them. I wear my pain.
But I am better. More and more often, I choose to put down the knife, to choose a bloodless outcome, to hold the pain in my mind because I know it WILL NOT LAST. It might feel like I cannot control it, like I cannot hold it for one single second longer – but then I do, and it lessens… it lessens and I did not cut. I did not cut. I did not cut. And then I know, I *know* I can make a different choice. It. Is. Possible.
And when you know the impossible is possible, everything changes.
Stop hiding. Let the light find you, because even with your scars – you are beautiful.
Stars twinkle as thumbtacks,
Matches, glinting in the ocean deep of the night,
So tangibly far,
And further –
The song of the flecks, alive burning bright,
Ink leaks, speckled with stardust, singing:
For even in darkness there’s light.
- Alice West
It was a long hard fight for me. I self harmed usually only when I had a bad day. Until two people very close to me passed away five days apart. It became a part of my daily survival to feel the pain, but today, I am one year clean of it. It’s still a struggle, but I know I’m not alone.
My self-harm story in one quote: Nobody sees what we see. They´re just hopelessly gazing.
The most difficult part of being a self-harmer is listen to the ones who says ‘Just stop cutting yourself’ and it’s like they are saying to you ‘Just stop breathing’. It’s that possible? Living without breathing? Living without life?
I self-harmed for 5 years because people told me i was worthless and told me to die.. ect., I wouldn’t tell my parents or even my friends. I was so scare that they would judge me , 9th grade I finally told two of my good friends and they told the school. The school called my parents and i got in trouble, they took away everything and they were mad at me , it made me cut more. I tried to kill myself i thought it would make everything better but trust me it didn’t. I went to the hospital stayed in there for weeks all my friends were scared and thought I died. Its been 1 year since i cut and I’m proud of myself. Just remember if someone tells you your worthless your not your worth a lot. People care about you don’t forget that so many people out there love you. If your cutting or depressed please tell someone I promise getting help is so much better then holding your feelings in!
So, 5 months ago I decided to stop self harm cold turkey style. I had been going off and on for months, and couldn’t figure out what exactly to do about it. So, cold turkey it was. I was doing well for a while, until I began to get called a whore online for no reason. So, I cut again. Then, cold turkey. Then cut. Then cold turkey. Then cut. Then cold turkey. Then beautiful. Then help. Then 2 months without it. I feel like I have really come a long way since then. I hope you all get better, and just know. You’re all beautiful. Every single one of you.