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How a Friend Cared About Me, Not My Self-Harm Scars

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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.

I was 15 years old when I met Tyler at church. Little did I know he would turn into a big brother figure and be a crucial part of my self-harm recovery. I had been harming myself for nearly a year and it had become my new normal. I just to do so in visible places until I realized I didn’t want people to look or stare, so I started concealing my self-harm.

Over the year I had been self-harming, I developed panic disorder — probably from the trauma I put myself through with bloodstained sheets and showers that stung worse than a thousand hornets. I became good at hiding it. I would play my panic attacks off as just a shaky leg and asking if anyone else in the room felt hot too, but as I kept harming myself, the panic attacks got worse.

We were driving one day. It was October and I had a sweatshirt on. And that is when things changed. As I turned the wheel, my sleeve came up just past my wrist and I could tell Tyler could see my scar. I was immediately filled with shame, regret and embarrassment. A few weeks passed before he said anything about my scar. He was teaching me how to parallel park at the local high school and we went back to his house for dinner. We sat on the couch playing Xbox when Tyler finally paused the game — then he asked the question I know we both were trying to avoid. With sincerity and true concern in his voice, he asked me if I had harmed myself. I couldn’t lie. I told him I did.

Today, nearly three years later, Tyler takes time out of his busy schedule every day and reaches out to let me know he cares, and he is there. On the days when I am having bad thoughts, I know I can call him without having to fear judgment.

This summer, we went to Nicaragua with our church and I almost relapsed one day. Later that night, everyone was asleep except for me; I was lying in my bed listening to the voice of self-doubt, harm and hate run through my mind. I broke. I got out of bed and woke Tyler up. I told him about almost relapsing earlier that day. I broke down in tears, telling him how terrified I was that I was going to have another urge, but won’t be able to control it. I apologized over and over again in fear that Tyler would be mad at me for almost relapsing, but he wasn’t mad. He was anything but mad. He sat up in his bed and hugged me, tighter than I honestly think I’ve ever been hugged before. I asked if he was mad at me. Even though he said he wasn’t, I repeatedly sought affirmation that he wasn’t. He just kept telling me he was glad I was safe.

I continued to cry; as I was crying I realized I wasn’t crying anymore out of fear or resentment. I was crying because I knew that someone cared about me, not my scars. Without Tyler, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I can’t say for sure, but without him, I would probably be in the same position I was nearly three years ago — at my rock bottom, self-harming.

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

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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Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Originally published: November 20, 2017
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