*TW: Language of self-harm*
When I was younger I thought I lived a pretty normal life. I guess all kids think their lives are normal until they get old enough to really look around and see their life is actually a little different.
I was the youngest of five girls. Our parents had their own sets of problems that I was way too young to completely understand at the time.
I was around 10 years old when they got a divorce. That’s when my life started to take some dark turns. I was told that my biological father was different than my sisters. I was so young I didn’t even really know what that meant at the time.
My life was turning so fast I didn’t know where I belonged. With my parents being divorced, I had to go with my mother—while my other sister went off to collage/marines, or stayed with their dad.
This is when my world took a nose dive into uncertainty.
I met up with my biological father and began to try and have a relationship with this stranger who I was supposed to now call "Dad."
During this time I also found myself at the wrong place at the wrong time with a man who had more than "just going to see a movie" on his mind.
I was sexually assaulted before even entering the 5th grade. The ordeal left me with scars on my body that refused to let me forget about that night.
I didn’t feel like I had anyone to turn to, the adults in my life were battling demons of their own and I was still confused as to where I fit in to this new world.
I tried my hardest to put all that behind me and put a smile on my face. The only thing holding me back were the scars that just wouldn’t go away. Just looking at them would set my mind right back to that moment and I didn’t know how to cope.
One night in the shower I snapped apart a razor and I cut all over those scars I hated so much.
As the water fell on me and I watched the drain pull it all a way I felt such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was sent into a euphoric bliss. I was numb for the first time since all of this had started. I forgot about the stress of divorce, parents fighting, my assault —all of it.
My world was crashing and I felt everything was gone, but this, this was mine. No one could take it away from me.
I clung to that feeling, that overpowering moment when my adrenaline would spark and I felt like I could take on the world. I no longer saw the scars from my assault, I saw scars of my own doing. It felt like I was taking my power back from that man.
Little did I know at the time that it would consume my life. Self-harm became my addiction. I would hid things around my room, razors, lighters, safety pins. At first it was so simple to achieve. One quick prick from a thumb tack and I would get the unbelievable rush of endorphins I craved so desperately. Then it moved to one slash, then two. It kept growing day after day.
I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day without it. I would self-harm before school, during lunch, after school, and I couldn’t sleep without doing it before bed. I was chasing that invisible high. It was a monster that grew by the day, demanding more of me each time it came searching.
Only my closest friends knew about what I was doing, and I know now they loved me and just wanted to help—but at the time when they told my teachers I wanted to explode with anger.
Things at home exploded even more when my parents found out. I felt like the only thing is this world I could call my mine was being ripped away from me. I rebelled.
My mom tried hard to get me to talk about things and even put me in therapy. I was scared, I didn’t know how to put into words how I was feeling or why I longed to hurt myself.
We sat in that room week after week going in circles. I made empty promises that I would stop and pull up my sleeves to prove I had stopped.
The truth was I was just getting smarter with placement. My mom didn’t check between my toes, on my ribs or thighs. I just became better at hiding my craft. The urges came and went as the years went by I never went more than a week or two without giving in and self-harming.
Even after my daughter was born, it was such a part of my life at that point I felt like I could never stop. Then as she grew she started asking questions about my body and I would answer her as best as I could, still shielding her from the darkness of this world. I knew I needed to get better for her and my son.
I began reaching out to others who have walked this path before me trying to learn every coping skill I could get my hands on. I found some amazing people who have the same struggles that I do, and they were always there day or night when I needed help.
One of them told me to draw on myself where I want to self-harm. Make it something beautiful to look at. I’ve always been a creative person so this was amazing for me. A box of my kids markers and self-made tattoos put a smile on my face and my urges passed.
The next time if that didn’t work I would pick up my guitar and play. Anything to keep my hands busy with something else.
These things helped for a long time, until the demons on my past would haunt my sleep. Nightmares grew beyond my control and I knew in my heart there was one way to get them to be quiet.
I realized this problem was bigger than me and I needed help. I began going to counseling and started working on myself every day.
My body will tell this story for the rest of my life, as I carry the scars with me always. You never completely get over self-harm, but you learn that it doesn’t have to consume you.
I am still learning how to love myself and how to be happy with myself even after all the damaged Ive caused. My scars tell a story—my story. That is something no one can take away from me. The one thing that makes me stronger. Makes me a feel more deeply than everyone I know. Makes me love stronger than I ever thought possible.
I know I am still early in my recovery but I have never been more dedicated to finally closing this chapter of my life for good. January 24, 2020 will be my one year self-harm free. Today I am at 239 days. It’s the longest I’ve gone in 19 years. I am feeling more powerful than ever.
I get to kiss and hug my kids every morning and have an amazing husband who loves me for all my flaws. I think I will always have urges, always have that deep pull in my heart for that sensation again, but I am hopeful that the future will bring me even more gifts. I will always be a work in progress because my story isn’t over yet;
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