The Mighty Logo

Learning to Love Myself With My Self-Harm Scars

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

“When I see my scars, I fight disgust — but I do not truly hate them. Why is this so? They remind me. I remember. Everything. I will always remember. They represent pain. They represent life. At times when I had no other way of showing it, pain that had built up was etched into my flesh forever. I’m not proud. Do not be mistaken. My razor was the brush, my skin the canvas, and my blood the paint. But it was not beautiful. Most of the artwork birthed from anger, guilt, numbness, or self-punishment. I felt so little and thought so much. It is both a blessing and a curse to be a thinker. That will forever be the case.

Despite this, there was unexplainable relief in the opposite sensation: of feeling too much and not thinking at all. Powerful expressions of raw emotion plagued me into horrendous actions and taunted me with their permanence thereafter. Each scraggly line of scar tissue was a moment when the reasons to live held on tight and came out victorious… My scars are the markings of a fighter — permanent reminders for someone who battled what I assume was depression and mental anguish daily for years.

I assure you — I love life and I look forward to the future. Understanding that, you can see how frustrating of a struggle it is when your brain defiantly disagrees with your heart. I still fight daily against those disagreements. However, there is a silver lining born from all of the struggle and blood, and it’s simple: None of these scars were previously near-fatal wounds. I am still here… alive. That is all that truly matters at the end of the day — that darkness never won.”

I wrote these words in a blog post of mine about six months ago.

I read it again and again, baffled each time. I talked about the pain that screams from the scars. The pain endured or lessened. The pain controlled or exacerbated. I talked about the stigma that kept me from asking for help. Ask for help. Light cannot find you if you sit isolated in darkness. Ask. You are not alone. You are not helpless. I talked about this because I still struggle with this. I wrote my heart out not wanting to forget how valuable a hug is or how warm that cup of coffee with a friend feels like. I didn’t want to forget the love that wrapped me so tightly in her arms when someone prayed for me. I can’t forget that. So I wrote about my struggles and shared with the world for the first time.

You have to understand: Self-harm is a beast of its own. In recovering, I simultaneously feel that I never struggled with it at all and also that I still do horrendously. Either it plagues me, or I forget about it sometimes. That is, until I see people staring at my arms at the grocery store or at school or even at church. Then I remember. I remember how difficult it is for me to embrace my body as it is now. I remember how much I still struggle to live in a sunny state and to wear a tank top or shorts — or a swimsuit. I understand. It will get better. Self-worth isn’t something you gain in one night. It is a process. It involves changing your way of thinking and embracing the positives that others pour into your life. Don’t put yourself down. Don’t give more weight to the insults thrown at you than to the subtle whispers of your greatness given to you.

This is a process, my friend. Some days, I still hate me. I have to snap out of it. I am worth more. You are worth more. Don’t let scars define you negatively. You are alive. You are beautiful and you are handsome. (Yes, men struggle with self-harm as well). You are strong and courageous. I just wanted to remind you that you aren’t alone. I understand. Some days drag endlessly. Some days you may fail to find confidence. I want to remind you that it is OK to not be OK. It is OK to still struggle sometimes. It is OK. You are OK.

It isn’t OK to struggle alone. If you are currently struggling with self-harm, seek help. There is hope in help. Asking for help can bring light into the darkness. Break the stigma — your own mental health and well-being is infinitely worth it. If you are in recovery, keep on. I know it’s difficult. If you haven’t heard this: I am proud of you. To overcome is no small task. Keep on. Keep seeking support. Keep loving yourself as much as you can. You are loved. The scars don’t make you any less lovable. In any regard. People who say otherwise don’t realize that true beauty emanates from character and the soul.

Your soul is infinitely worth it. It is infinitely beautiful. Your wounds have healed. The scars will continue to fade a little more year after year. Rest in that. Take care of and value your body — but, more importantly, take care of that beautiful soul. Keep fighting my friend.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: December 9, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home