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When Self-Harm Is an Abusive Relationship You Have With Yourself

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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.

Speaking of my tribulations, I find myself shocked at the oddity that I am so close to the demons that have harmed me from the inside out. Weirdly enough, I think I would call my bond and relationship with the demon of self-harm a close companionship that has been budding for the last four years.

When I first began to self-harm, I used the act as a punishment to counter the pain I was experiencing in my life at the time. The scratches were small and sporadic, similar to a quick monsoon in the middle of summer. It was never enough to do significant damage, and it was never strategically planned.

I grasped the release it gave me. It felt like a physical high that would lead me away from the pain occupying my busy mind. Anything I could hurt myself with was fair game. So there were few things that were off limits when it came to our relationship.

The more involved I became with my pain, the closer self-harm and I became. Punishments, screw ups, mistakes, they all led me back to self-harm. Stressors, worries, uncertainties — self-harm was the answer. Feeling like a failure at having an eating disorder, relapsing in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), unrelenting anxiety — self-harm was there for me when it seemed like no one else was.

At this stage, my plight with that demon feels absurdly juvenile. I have tried, unwaveringly, to hold onto the relationship I have with self-harm, to use it as a lifeline. Yet, the longer the bond exists, the more I am discovering this part of my endeavor is toxic and useless. Nowadays, I find myself reaching for the scissors at even the thought of pain. Before the situation has had a chance to materialize, I have dealt with it 10 times over by harming myself, following a similar parallel 10 times over.

The high that used to come as a result of self-harm has been traded in for a stress hangover, arms that burn the next day and scars, which I am often still at a loss for how to explain. My relationship with the struggle has been stretched, ripped, and battered in more ways than one. As I sit here writing this, I have paused on more than one occasion to glance down at my arm, that appears to be a giant scar, a reminder of my past mistakes, stress and an attempt to succeed at dying.

Most can recount an abusive relationship, whether or not they have a personal experience with the concept. However, I am venturing to assume some may not realize the abusive relationship an individual can have within themselves, against their own body.

I am writing to say I am tired and fed-up of the relationship self-harm and I have. No matter how many times I invite it back into my life, it never fails to hurt me, both physically and emotionally. We have more than once taken the ever so popular “break.” We have had our arguments, of which I am the only one to awake in pain the next morning. I have mentally broken up with self-harm many times, but the thought could not properly do the act justice.

This, is my break-up message to self-harm. No, it is not welcome back.

Originally published: August 5, 2016
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