Three years ago, I began to self-harm. I made scars—ones I thought didn’t matter, but they did. The power of darkness and depression invaded, and I got lost in the walls I had built around myself. There I made a home out of rock bottom, piling pain and ugly words on top of each other, my heart broken.
Today, I’m fighting back and letting the light in. But in the recovery process, it can be difficult to change, as well as to hold onto that change.
There are two sides of recovery: the painful lure of relapse, and the hope of new beginnings. These two sides can leave one dizzy in the constant swirl between nights of heavy hearts and days with blue skies. At times, the lines blur, and you find yourself somewhere in the middle ground, like a desert in the midst of a warzone. Sometimes this seems to carry on for so long, making it easy to doubt as the addiction starts screaming and hope seems to become only a whisper in the background. We start to question why we even started this adventure called recovery in the first place.
It’s a hard thing to change and break self-destructive habits, as if you are simply rearranging your sleeping routine or getting a new class schedule. It takes time, and we may even fail during those attempts. Relapses are real, and sometimes the darkness wins; however, one lost battle does not mean a lost war. It’s not a reason to retreat. If anything, it makes one stronger, braver, and more courageous than ever before. There is a lot of triumph and heart involved in standing up after a relapse, giving yourself a second chance, or maybe even a tenth chance. It’s such a beautiful thing to dream of something better.
You are worth recovery. Even in the times when it seems you have become your own enemy, you are still worthy. Even if you lose comrades along the way, you are still worth the fight.
Help is not something that people only ask for in times of desperation. In those in-between days, when it all seems never-ending or worthless, we should reach for hope and love all the more. Admitting that we are weak, scared, or losing control is never shameful; it’s human. This war is won in alliances and partnerships. We’ll always need that extra push when it’s time to curse, scream, and kick at the darkness.
The middle of recovery can seem like the heat of that fight. It’s where the most damage could be done. It can feel like we’re losing numbers—but in reality, we’re also gaining strength. It’s scary, and it’s frightening. It’s beautiful, and it’s honorable.
Recovery is neither perfect nor impossible. It’s a learning process filled with good intentions. We will all have moments of weakness, but we will also have moments of triumph. To be in the middle is to be where the heart of your story will take place. It is where you learn what it means to be a warrior, a lover, a survivor, a human being. And I believe, one day, peace will reign, like the first sunrise after a winter of cold bleakness. You may still carry your scars, but wear them like a badge of honor anyway. They represent strength in numbers and bravery despite the circumstances.
Your story will continue. The addiction, the darkness, the sadness—it may never completely stop shouting, but you can shout louder. We can shout louder, together.
Such a perfect post…brave, real, and full of hope. Thank you for sharing your story & and your voice. As you said, your shouting has already begun. Now we’re all shouting with you…and it’s a beautiful sound!
This was lovely. Thank you. <3
This is exactly where I am right now. I’m trying to live in recovery after years of struggling with self harm. I feel like this post is everything I’ve been going through the past year. It’s something for me to hold onto. Thank you.
I began cutting myself almost four years ago and feeling depressed. Let’s just say I’ve had my share of tough times so far in my life. It’s definitely true that it’s a constant back and forth struggle between changing your ways for the better and defaulting back on old ways to cope with things. And sometimes reaching out and getting help isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I believe as long as you have one person in your corner who stands by you and gives you hope, that it definitely makes the journey through recovery a lot easier. Stay strong and hopeful.
I am in the in-between right now and this sums it up PERFECTLY. Thank you, Danielle. We’ve got this. 🙂
This absolutely touched my heart. Today made six weeks for me being self harm free. And I found strength in this to make sure I keep going. Thank you for writing this, and Thank you for sharing.
I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this, but i wanted to thank all of you for reading. It means so much. I’m so honored to have touched your lives, even if it was just for a moment. Stay strong and beautiful.
Like others, I am currently in an in between. Thank you for the remind that I am worthy of recovery, even when I feel unworthy and stuck in the darkness. Thank you for your words Danielle. They were needed and appreciated, as are you!
Thank you. Right now I feel like I’m at the point where if I mess up and relapse it will be devastating, but that’s part of this. We all have our stories and we can all use each other to get through. Thank you for this amazing story.
I’ve been clean for about 2 months and i have to say, when i was in the in-between this is exactly how i felt. You hit it spot on. Stay strong like i know u will and can :*
Knowing I’m not alone in this is one of the most comforting things I’ve heard in a while. Thank you for sharing. Knowing I’m not the only one who it hasn’t completely gone away, but that’s okay. Just because a scar gets bumped back open doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. Thank you. <3
Danie, you are just an incredible inspiration. Living life through all it’s troubles is enough to bring anyone down to the deepest depths. But yet you stand up and fight that so that you can succeed and find happiness in your life. If everyone can see the world the way that you do, it’s possible that there is hope for a completely happy future. 🙂
Next month, I will be four years self harm free. I am STILL in that inbetween place, as TWLOHA story says I am between hurricane and harbour. AS my depression and anxiety both hold me by chains and seemily rule my life, after 4 years no one seems to understand. They think I should be fine, but this, this shows me that people do understand that it doesn’t matter if I am 4 day, 4 month, or 4 years. I am allowed to be in that middle place. I go through stages where months I can go without an urge, or stages where I am at know as the light is dim, and urges grip me on a nightly basis. Thank you for allowing us, as recovering self harmers, to know that there is an inbetween and that is okay. That maybe we may go from the end back to the middle, that is also okay. I love what you said recovery is a learning process filled with good intentions. Thank you!
Thank you. I’m only nine months into recovery and even I started thinking I “should be fine” but its a constant struggle..its something I have to wake up to every morning and fight for. Recovery is the hardest thing ive had to fight for and its good to know I’m not alone.
I needed to hear this today. I needed to know that I am not falling down the stairs back into the darkness, rather the stairs are just too steep today. I needed to know that it’s okay to sit on the middle step and take a breather. Thank you.
It’s so refreshing to listen to the words of somebody else who “gets it.” The devoted friends and family are there for you in the desperate times, but then it’s almost like they all have a perceived time limit of sympathy, and then they just assume you should be “fixed” by now. Those in-between times are rough, aren’t they. Thanks for sharing your story.
This blog was just what I needed to hear. I started counseling a few months ago and recently had to take a month long break because of some problems my counselor was having with her contract…I easily fell back into believing that this was somehow a sign that I was undeserving of recovery. That somehow all of my effort was pointless and I should just stop and go back to the ways of coping I used to use. Then I read this blog. I was reminded that I am worthy, even when it doesn’t feel like I am. I am worth fighting for, I am worth recovery, and I am worth raising my voice of hope. Thank you for the reminder. I reread this blog almost daily. It means a lot to me.
Thanks for this. It makes so many things swirl around in my head. Songs: “got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight…” from the song: Lovers in a dangerous time by Bruce Cockburn.
“You can surrender without a prayer, but never really pray, pray without surrender. You can fight, fight without ever winning, but never, ever win, win without a fight” from Resist by Rush.
Carrying your scars makes me think of those Subaru commercials: “they lived”. And a sarcastic comment we used to say when we’d get some nasty bruise. “you should see the other guy.” [Sorry, needed a little humor.]
So thanks for stirring up these feelings, these thoughts. Thoughts of survival. Of living through the night so you can be there to see “the first rays of a new dawn”. And now I’m thinking of an Ingrid Michaelson song, This is War
“this is war, this is war. And I’ll run until, I can’t run, ANYMORE. Someone’s, got to, loose, it’s not gonna be this [guy] this time. I won’t surrender. I will fight better…won’t surrender at, won’t surrender at all.”
I’ll be thinking of this on Sat. I won’t be able to “run for it”. However, I’ll be thinking of everyone who will be. [hopefully next year I won’t be so busy.]
This blog helped me today massively, i passed out over the weekend and came close. I was ready to cut again but this realy made my day. Im glad its ok to be at a point of being inbetween and its normal. Thank you, im hoping this can turn me around.
I don’t mean to put a downer on things but I’m just wondering if recovery is ever over. After nearly 4 years self-harm free I had a major relapse and it seems the fight is never over, that we will always be recovering and never recovered, in an endless fight against the relapses that sneak up on you and take you deeper and darker than ever. There is such an expectation that you will be ‘fixed’, that “you must have dealt with that by now”, “how could you possibly have anything more to talk about, are you sure you’re not just rehashing everything all over again because that’s not helpful” and you start to believe it, and that it is not over and dealt with is overwhelmingly frustrating. Sorry struggling to find the hope right now and venting!
Ive been clean for a little while and everyday its a struggle it is hard. I always think of self harm. It hunts my very thoughts. I needed this thank you. Stay strong. <3
Thank you for writing this. Like many of the others, I am in this middle ground. I can’t seem to go more than three weeks without self harm though and of course the time in between that is never easy. I’m struggling to find hope and wonder if this path to recovery is even worth it.
Oh love, it is worth it. You’re life is worth the world’s treasures and more. Keep fighting for hope, he’ll find you.
I really needed to read this today. After 3.5 months of self-harm “sobriety,” I relapsed two days ago and have felt like I’m drowning ever since. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes relapses happen and it doesn’t make me a failure.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Pingback: Change Isn’t the Enemy « TWLOHA
Paragraph three is how i feel so much of the time. I’m fighting the self harm battle and it is harder than people realize I think. The state when you are in so much emotional pain, causing yourself more pain seems like the only answer. It’s beyond awful. But yet, you’re stuck. How can you feel like you need something that you hate so much?
I’m almost 3 years clean. Recently it has felt like more of a battle than ever though. I can recall exactly how I felt when I would be self-harming and my brain knows it’s nowhere close to where I would ever want to go again. But it’s like there’s this internal struggle. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I relapsed, I think that’s the thing that stops me from doing it. It’s the fear of all the emotions rushing back ten times stronger and then me giving in and starting to live the lie again. But there’s another part of me that sees it as appealing…that part is scarier than the actual act of self-harming. It’s hard coming to the realization that no amount of time clean will promise never having bad days.
I know this was written 5 years ago, but thank you. From the depths of my being, thank you. I needed to hear this today, in the midst of the fight. I needed to hear this in order to remember to keep fighting.
I’m sitting here in my bed, going through blog post after blog post, and this one means so much more to me. Yesterday marked six weeks clean of self-injury. It has been so hard. Thank you for giving me a reason not to injure today. Thank you
I’m in that middle ground right now. Most of the time it seems like I’ve made it out of the darkness, and that there’s no chance of me relapsing; but times like right now, all I want to do is injure again. I remember how freeing it felt- at least until a few seconds later when all I felt was shame and a sharp sting. I know that each time I relapse, I’m just making it easier to do it again, but when I’m really depressed it’s hard to see that. I’m trying the best I can and I hope that someday I’ll be able to look at my scars and not want to add one <3
You said it yourself, you’re trying your best and that means so much. While we don’t want you to bring harm to yourself, we hope you know that you’re turning to self-harm as a form of coping, to keep going and to keep living. We hope you can release the shame you’re feeling for relapsing. You’re trying and recovery is possible. One moment at a time, friend.