Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
My left arm is often covered in visible carvings of chaos. The scars leave a resurrected reminder of satisfying shame. Sometimes after a self-beating or binge, I take to the shower as if I can wash off the marks of “madness.” But, no amount of soap can drown the proof down the drain. The documented evidence, like perfectly organized files, now permanently in my skin.
If this all sounds too familiar, then I am deeply sorry. I do not write this to trigger you, or to encourage this emotional intervention. However, I do feel self-injury is something we must discuss, share and learn more about in healthy and helpful ways. I also speak out because I was 25 when I made my very first cut. I was an adult; I did not know anyone else who self-injured at the time and I never engaged in self-harm as a child. This was a whole new world, and a universe I was so easily drawn to. The spinning out of control happened quickly, and my life began to revolve around self-harm and secrets.
My self-harm “career” began out of anger and frustration. As the method laid within my reach, it seems like it just happened. With one time, the storm settled, my mind calmed and just for a moment the suffering of my soul was outwardly omnipotent. Months have turned to years of an employment to anything that could potentially harm me.
The broken skin eventually heals, creating a cycle of reopening the wounds emotionally and physically, sometimes interfering with the healing process altogether. This cyclical spiral leaves you feeling confused and confined. Self-injury is absolutely an addiction, and because of its taboo nature, it often goes untreated for longer periods of time.
I would like to tell you it is easy to quit, that it’s easy to simply put down, but it’s not. However, I can tell you there is light in your crevasses. You won’t see this light overnight (nights are always the hardest), but moving momentarily away from the urge can make moments turn to minutes. Then, whole days without inflicted harm on your luminous body and soul. Imagine sitting outside on a warm, sunny afternoon wearing shorts and a tank top, not having to hide your battle wounds — embracing your body and loving the way the light feels on your skin.
To anyone else who finds a way to destroy the light which lives underneath your bruised and broken skin, you are not your labels. Your name is light-bearer. Healing can begin the moment you recognize the light that lives within you.
Try to see the light that breaks through your cracked canvas, and use its radiating energy to get up, to reach out and to ask for what you need. You need light and you are light. Take this moment to scrap the self-harm and shine.
If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
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Unsplash photo via Christopher Windus