***This post contains material that could potentially be triggering for anyone with a history of self-harm. Please do not continue if you aren't safe right now.***
I purposely and knowingly hurt myself for the first time on December 14, 2006. I used a broken plastic spoon to scratch three deep lines into my forearm. Later that night I burned myself with a candle. And it felt good.
There is no way for someone like me to explain this to someone like you if you haven't been there.
My brain says it shouldn't feel good. My brain says it's not something that's okay to do. And my brain knows it will bother the people around me.
But it does feel good. And it doesn't feel like a big deal. And in that moment of darkness, I don't care how others feel about it.
At least that's the way it's been. In the past. It's been a little over eight years since I first did it. And while I understood it wasn't a healthy coping mechanism and I should probably stop, I have never wanted to stop. Not once.
I tried to want to. I wanted to want to. But I just didn't. I didn't want to give it up. And, honestly, I just wasn't fully converted to the idea that it was important for me to give it up.
Last October (2014) I burned myself. I mean, I really burned myself. And it ended my relationship with my therapist. Which led to me seeing a new therapist.
As my new therapist and I got to know each other I told him about how many therapists I'd seen over the years. There have been many in my life. I go for a while without seeing anyone and then, when I know the issue I'm dealing with is too big for me alone, I pray and ask God which therapist is the right one to help me through this moment.
This is the point when my new therapist asked me what I was seeing him for. What was he supposed to help me with, whether I wanted to do it or not?
And, boy, wasn't that final qualifier just the clincher for me? Didn't that phrase tell me I was with exactly the person I needed to see?
I looked him in the eye and told him he and I were to heal the self-harm problem I have. That I didn't want to give it up. But that I would work on it with him because I believed God wanted me to.
And I didn't see how I was ever going to want to give it up.
I have been seeing him about every two weeks since early November. We've taken various approaches. We've found things that I believe will help me and a few that didn't really fit.
And then, on February 17, he said something in passing that was a game changer for me. I don't remember the exact words. He was talking about helping me get more tools in my toolbox so I don't pass the trauma on.
And that was the moment. I heard in my head and wrote on my paper, "When I self-harm, I pass the trauma on."
I am causing trauma to my children.
And that was the slap I needed. I am in therapy to heal for them. I am working so hard to make their world better. To find the answers they will need in the future by doing the work myself. And to end a long line of dysfunction. My goal was to make the trauma stop with me. I had hoped that I would be its last victim.
But when I hurt myself, it hurts them. And that's just absolutely not okay with me.
So I'm done.
I can't promise I won't engage in any other unhealthy behaviors as I continue to work my way through my incredibly tangled past. But I will never, ever purposely hurt myself again.
And that's a promise!