Thursday, March 19, 2015

Self-Harm and the Words That Made Me Want to Stop

***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!


Foreverhja said...

You are such an amazing person and I know that you can do this. God will give you what you need to get through those dark moments. He loves you.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful Robin. It is something I needed to hear as well.

Unknown said...

Powerful to find the tool that penetrates to our divine soul. Glad you found it in this. said...

So pleased that you've found such a good therapist. And for this decision you've made. That's the first step. Praying you through, Robin.

The Lovely One said...

Good for you! May God give you the strength you need!

Keisha | The Girl Next Door is Black said...

This is a brave and important share. I hope that by sharing your experience you've helped someone else going through something similar.

I wish you much strength as you work through this!

Jes said...

I struggled with self harm when I was in high school and college. It was amazing and terrible all at once. I lived for the pain since I'd emotionally closed myself off.

I stopped when I joined the military as it was pretty much impossible to hide, and that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Even today (over 6 years later) it's something I still struggle with.

My best defense against self harm over these six years has been steeling myself and allowing myself to be vulnerable with myself. It's a constant struggle but a worthwhile one!

I love how open and vulnerable you were in sharing this. It's such a difficult thing to share with the world. But you got this! Self harm doesn't just hurt you, but those around you and holding on to that knowledge will help you along this healing journey. You're in my thoughts and prayers as you walk this path!