In order to begin this post, I’m going to have to get something really big out all at once. This will be similar to ripping a band-aid off of a wound quickly. I am going to say what I need to say, and then continue.
I suffer from an addiction. I used to cut myself.
This was a pretty big confession for me to make to you, dear reader. You may be someone in my closest circle who has known this about me for a long time. You may be a stranger who just happened across this page. You may be a family member who is now hurting because you had no idea. To all of you I say: Read. Take in my story, if you want to know my story.
As with many introspective and depressive types, I cannot pinpoint the moment when melancholy set in. Here at the ripe age of 24 I feel as if it has always been a part of me. I have certainly always been in my own head a great deal, over-thinking things or simply over analyzing myself. I feel very blessed to have the mind that I do, though it has gotten me into trouble.
It isn’t that I don’t know how to be happy. When I take stock of my life I do have numerous happy memories. However, there is this creeping fog of unease that covers most everything I’ve done and experienced for years. And that has been exhausting.
Now on to the story of my addiction. And, yes, I do refer to self harm as an addiction. At least, the way I have experienced it has been addictive. It is something I have to actively make the choice not to do. One day at a time.
I wrote my story out last October. You see, November 1st, 2010 was the fifth year anniversary of the day I laid this habit down and prayed never pick it back up. I had a small celebration with a circle of close friends, and I wrote out my story for each of them. I’d like to share that story here, and perhaps even expand on a few things.
Here it is:
I can tell you that I don’t remember the exact moment it started. It wasn’t just a decision that I made one day. At least, not intentionally or consciously. Honestly, I’m sure I felt like it was a normal thing to do; it probably just made sense to me. I guess maybe that’s twisted or odd, but that’s the way it is. I’m only speaking the truth here. I started hitting my arms really hard on my computer chair to purposely cause bruises, and I would feel better for a simple fleeting second. I could not even tell you a “starting date” for what I now have come to realize is an addiction. I can tell you that I was around thirteen or fourteen years old.
It slowly escalated from there. I would punch walls. I would bite my fingers. I would pull my hair. Small things that I felt like weren’t a big deal. It was a way to cope with all my hang-ups and terrible feelings, and it wasn’t all that bad. At least, that’s what I told myself. One day, I decided that all of this was not enough. I used a broken piece of the computer chair to scratch my right arm on this particularly stressful day. This was the first time I chose to draw blood, and it felt good. It truly did. This was to be my coping strategy from now on. My weapon of choice was more often than not a safety pin. To this day I try hard not to have one in my possession.
During this time, I was depressed. All the time. Every day. The injury was not always an everyday thing; but hating myself and my life was. I had friends, and I enjoyed their company. I loved them. And I heard them say time and time again that they enjoyed my company and loved me. I could not believe them. I didn’t love myself, so thinking of someone else loving me seemed utterly impossible. I wasn’t usually ever really alone, but I was always lonely.
I was, in fact, a Christian then. At least, I had been raised to, you know, trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture; all that. And most of the time, I tried so hard to do so. And, I did believe in God and I said that I trusted Him. Yet, I hated my life. To be entirely honest, I don’t remember talking to Him all that much during this time. I was angry. Most of my “praying” consisted of screaming at Him to just go ahead and take me out of this world. Literally screaming. I was messed up.
As I said before, this was not a daily thing. I tried hard not to resort to hurting myself. Sure, I would feel better for a few seconds afterward, but then the guilt would set in and all of my dreadful feelings would come back. I also had to try hard to hide it. I wasn’t “doing it for attention”, which is the explanation everyone gives about cutters. Maybe some do, but so what? Clearly, if they have fallen that far, perhaps they need a little attention. I absolutely did not do it for attention. I would wear longs sleeved shirts, numerous bracelets, lie to people and tell them a cat had scratched me, or some other weak nonsense. Looking back, I probably did not fool anyone. But I thought I was. Eventually, I started cutting myself on my legs because those injuries were easier to hide. I almost always wore pants; even in the summer months. My struggles were hidden and I was sad.
I was starting to realize what a problem this was. Clearly, if it was something I felt like I should hide, then it wasn’t normal or healthy. At the point I truly realized that, I was so far into it. Quite frankly, I had no idea how else to deal with things in my life. I’d be okay for a couple weeks, basically just letting things build up, and then my boyfriend would go off to visit his pot smoking buddies and not call, or my parents would get into an argument, and there I would be. I don’t say these things to put them down. I am not trying to place blame. I’m just showing you that they had struggles as well, and I didn’t know how to deal with other peoples’ issues on top of my own. I was training myself to be numb. I couldn’t even cry anymore.
At one point in the midst of this darkness, I wrote a short story. Writing sometimes helped me to take my mind off of the desire to hurt myself. I deemed this story “A Modern Day Humpty Dumpty.” It was about a young woman, who like Humpty, had “had a great fall.” She didn’t just fall. She fell in a dark pit. She fell to pieces. And some of the King’s horses and men attempted to put her together as well. But it was always a temporary mend. Getting her back together was also difficult due to the fact that she became so accustomed to this horrible pit that she even began to break off pieces of herself that had already been mended. She didn’t know why, but she did anyway. Others tried to come soothe her, and she appreciated the help, but none could put her back together. She stayed in the pit for a long time, wondering where the King himself was.
I tried numerous times to quit this unhealthy and scary habit. I would do well for awhile. I once had a six month period of no self-injury. I felt very proud of myself. Yet, there was a problem. I was trying to do it all myself. I did not have the strength for that. I could not do it on my own. I could not do it all alone.
On the 31st of October in 2005, I attended a Halloween party at a friend’s house. I planned on staying the night, and brought along some pajamas. I remember that I had my Pink Panther pajama pants. So comfortable. I also had gone into my brother’s room at home and borrowed one of his many pocket knives. It attended the party with me. I tried to tell myself that I wasn’t really going to use it, but that was a very blatant and poor lie. At this point, I was lying to everyone; including myself. During the party, I walked myself into her bathroom and locked the door behind me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I sat there in the floor for a very long time, just thinking. I don’t really know if I actually thought about all that much. I just sat there. Then, at some point, I took out the pocket knife, and I carved an X directly above my left knee. I immediately felt better. I also focused my attention on taking care of cleaning the cut.; making yourself busy with a task to be done is, sadly, also a good way of ignoring your emotions. So, I felt great. For about thirty seconds. I came out of that bathroom and decided that enough was enough. But I could not do it alone. And then, the King Himself showed up to mend me and pull me out of that pit.
After the fateful Halloween night, I decided that I needed to trust God, because only He could save me from the darkness. I knew that I needed to give my life back over to Him, and work to do things that glorify Him. Self-harm is certainly not something that glorifies anything other than pain. I gave it all to Him. Does that mean everything in my life became easier and was immediately better? Of course not. That isn’t how it works. But I wasn’t going it alone anymore. I opened my eyes, found relief in His life, and put down my knives. November 1, 2010. Five years. Thank you God; all the glory belongs to You.
If you are reading this, it means that over those five years you have been a part of my story. Maybe you have been there through it all. Maybe you haven’t known me very long at all. Either way, know that you have said something or done something to help me remember that I am valuable; a beautiful and wonderful child of God. So thank you for being a character in my story.
There you have it. A piece of my life. A story about pain and triumph. It scares me to share this story on my blog. It makes me feel very open and vulnerable. I don’t share these things freely. I feel led to do it. I want to use my pain to reach out to others who need hope. It exists, my friends. Hope is a wonderful weapon to use against the enemy of despair. Reader, what are you struggling with? It may not be something as “serious” as an addiction, but all struggles and all pain are relative. What takes up your thoughts and causes you to worry? Let it go.
It is my prayer that everyone who comes across this page finds a piece of hope in this post. I am praying for all who will read it. I pray for you. I hope for you. Feel free to drop me a line if you need someone to talk to. I am here.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4