I first self-harmed when I was 11 years old, which was 12.5 years ago.
Writing that sentence just made it thoroughly hit home that I’ve lived for longer with this issue than I have without it. That’s scary.
When I was 11, my home life was awful. Someone in my family was going through a tough time at work and they had chosen to take all of their anger out on me. I have vivid memories of their face inches from mine whilst they screamed in my face about what a disappointment I was. That they wished I wasn’t their family. That they wished I’d never been born. At the end of that terrible year, they apologised to me. My mother later told me she doesn’t know how I bore the things that were said to me, that she would have been a quivering wreck on the floor had her family said those things to her. This was how they dealt with what happened. These days, this person apologises if they have been overly irrational. It is another small victory. And yet, our relationship is, and always will be, damaged beyond repair. The harsh words and these low opinions of me have never stopped coming my way over the years, with differing degrees of spite. I genuinely believe it is impossible for me to be loved, because if your own family can believe those things of you – who else would think otherwise?
But let’s move on from there…
I do not wish to lay the blame of my issues at the feet of my family. I am aware that my mind is my own problem, and that nothing outside of myself can claim to have broken or fixed it. I merely wish to give you the background as to why I believe I hurt myself:
I was never physically hurt and yet the words caused pain. The thoughts that nasty words can produce are painful. Being a pragmatic person, I cannot understand pain without a wound and so I must inflict one. Additionally, the pain caused from a physical wound will, 9 times out of 10, cancel out the emotional pain long enough for the strongest wave of the emotion to ebb away. It is a small moment of emotional oblivion, like your own personal brand of heroin.
During my school years, I became addicted to hurting myself. But I began to feel paranoid and anxious when I didn’t self-harm, and yet more paranoid and anxious when I did. It was a vicious circle, and one that still gets me. When I am in that split second where I could choose to cut or not to cut, there is no pride is choosing ‘not cut’. There is only a feeling of weakness and cowardice that I choose not to take control of the situation. A sense of inadequacy for not being able to handle the punishment I deserve.
The same way that I cannot remember the first time I took a sharp object to my skin, I cannot remember the last time during my school years that I did so. But I did stop.
There were other issues, after this, many others. I was not instantly cured. Far from it. The problem was, that whilst I had taught myself that self-harm was wrong, my body no longer knew what to do with the excess emotion, the excess hatred it had for itself. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred. Self-hatred abides by this rule at all times.
Breaking as a child can be explained away. You are growing, learning, experiencing, mistaking and correcting. Always moving forwards. People allow that adolescence is hard. The same people will tell you, at 20, 22, 23, to ‘get a grip’ and ‘get on with it’, that ‘we all have our problems’. Breaking as an adult is hard, much harder to accept, much harder to deal with, and much harder to move on from.
But that’s a post for another day.
This was hard to write. Even harder to post. Please be kind.
And know that, however hard it may be right now, it will and it does get better. As a very wise old wizard once said, there is always light to be found, as long as one remembers to turn on the light.
See you soon. P.