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What I'll Say When My Future Children Ask About My Self-Harm Scars

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Article updated August 19, 2019.

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 worry about if/when I have kids. I worry about what I’ll tell them when they see my self-harm scars and are old enough to know a bit more of the truth. I worry about when they will ask about them. I worry I won’t choose the right age to tell them. I worry whatever I say, it won’t be enough. I know no matter what, I can’t guarantee they’ll never harm themselves. I hope when the time is right, I’ll have the right words and I’ll start the conversation. It won’t be just a one-time talk, it will be a conversation with the door to it always open.

I’ll say…

“Sometimes the world is a very dark place, and unfortunately, your mom had to endure a lot of darkness a long time ago. I had to find a way to survive in a cruel world. I tried to numb out, hide, run and ignore every single emotion that roared inside of me like a raging waterfall. I pushed it down because I was convinced I couldn’t handle it. Convinced I had no one to tell. Remember, you can always tell me anything. Remember, you can never run from your feelings in the long run. 

I’ll say…

“A long time ago, I was in a war against my body. I was at war against this thing I felt betrayed by each and every day. You know mommy has bad hips, right? Well a long time ago they didn’t know why my hips caused me so much pain and back then, before I had my first surgery, the war started. My body hurt so much, and no one believed me. I couldn’t tell anyone how much pain I was in because I was afraid of the judgments. Remember, I will always believe you.

I’ll say…

“Shame is an emotion when we feel embarrassed or distressed by the thought or truth we have done something others will see as wrong. If we don’t talk about the things that make us feel this way, we’ll stay silent and trapped until the feeling grows and grows, becoming unbearable. Feeling like this for a long time can lead someone to feeling unworthy of care. My war with my body got me stuck in a cycle of shame: actions that caused shame, shame that caused more actions that caused more shame. I got trapped. Remember, you can always talk to me when you feel shame. Remember, you will always be worthy of care, no matter what.” 

I’ll say…

“My battles with demons happened when I felt I didn’t have the words to convey the immense amount of pain I was in. I didn’t have the words to explain it so I tried to show it by any means possible. I played out my pain on my body in the hopes I wouldn’t have to speak. I played out my pain so there would be visible evidence. I thought I needed something to point to to say, ‘see here, look I’m in pain, believe me.’ Remember, you don’t have to have words, I’ll believe you when you say you’re in pain. You don’t need to try and prove it.”  

I’ll say… 

“Sometimes, you feel as though you’re alone in the world. Sometimes you don’t know there are plenty of people who’ll listen or help when you feel like you’re drowning in plain sight. You just have to speak a single word, and they’ll be at your side: help. Remember, I will always be here to listen.” 

I’ll say…

“If you ever, ever, ever feel something so terrible you feel as though you need to harm yourself, please instead run straight to me. Text, call, tell, run, get to me as fast as you can. I will hold you in my arms no matter how old you are. I will hold you as you cry and tell me what’s wrong, or don’t. Whatever you need, I’ll be there till the urge goes away. I’ll do whatever I can to help you find another way to process what you’re going through. Remember, I am always here for you.” 

I’ll say…

“Scars are not a sign of weakness. Scars are symbols of battles, and I fought my fair share. You, my child, are the sign I won all my battles and made it to the other side. Remember, even if you emerge from something with a scar, physical or emotional, it’s proof that you’re strong enough to survive.” 

I’ll say…

“I really wish I hadn’t done it. I wish I could explain how dark of a place I was in and how alone I felt. I wish I had known or realized then just how many people loved me and would’ve been at my side to help. I hope you never know pain like that. I hope you never feel that alone. Remember, I love you.

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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Thinkstock photo via Ryan McVay.

Originally published: April 17, 2017
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