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Embracing the Story of the Self-Harm Scars on My Arm

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

First off, I am that girl.

I am the girl who spent many years cutting her arms in an attempt to be in control of her pain. I am the girl who believed that the emotional turmoil she was experiencing did not matter, who believed the trauma she endured was her fault and who ultimately, believed her life was meaningless and not worth living.

I am also the girl who has finally began to love herself. I am the girl who, despite the battle raging in her mind, chooses day in and day out to stay alive. I am the girl who is no longer silent about her struggles.

Over the years, I have gradually learned that self-harming is not the proper way for me to control my pain. I know it sounds cliché, but if you are reading this and struggle with cutting yourself, I’d like to ask you to please put the blade away and hear what I have to say.

I get it. The darkness. The quiet sobs at nighttime that no one knows about. The urges that overwhelm you. The intrusive thoughts… I truly get it, I promise.

I used to look at my arm and only see the scars. Even now, having tattooed over them, the scars are still visible. They always will be. But you know what? That is not necessarily a bad thing. You see, my scars don’t define who I am. They are simply reminders of times I was in an enormous amount of emotional pain, but got through it. They remind me I can beat addiction. And finally, they remind me that even at the lowest of lows, I can overcome.

On my wrist, I have a semicolon tattoo with the words “my story isn’t over.” On the days when shame overwhelms me, and when I feel like I can no longer go on, I am able to look at my tattoo and remind myself that my story certainly is not over.

On my forearm, I’ve got a tattoo of a sea lion with the phrase “be here tomorrow,” both of which were inspired by Kevin Hines, who survived a suicide attempt. Afterwards, a sea lion circling Kevin is part of what kept him afloat in the water.

For myself, the sea lion is a symbol of hope reminding me hope can be found in unexpected places. The phrase “be here tomorrow” is more than just a cool saying. As a person who struggles with chronic thoughts of suicide, I cling to those words. You see, I made a promise to myself and to everyone in my life; that promise is to always be here tomorrow, and to never die by suicide.

Finally, I have the lyrics “in oceans deep, my faith will stand” tattooed on my arm. Being in oceans deep represents me being at the lowest of lows. My faith will stand is my declaration to trust Jesus, even when my situation may be horrible.

I am on a mission every single day to defeat the odds. You see, my scarred arm truly tells a story, a story I believe people need to hear.

What is your story?

Photo courtesy of the author

Originally published: February 3, 2020
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