This piece talks about self-injury in detail. Please use your discretion.
I always knew grief to be that of losing a family member. That is, I always thought loss to be the definition of grief. I never thought I would feel grief after trying to find myself beyond self-harming, wishing I could continue.
When my parents found out, they gave me two options: stop or go to a mental hospital.
It resembled recovering from an addiction that had become a consistent part of my daily schedule. I didn’t know how to stop at first. When I was stressed, it was easier to take it out on myself versus working through it. I experienced grief, and sorrow even, for not being able to resort to self-harm anymore. I was a child. Only 15.
No matter how much the little voice in my head begged and pleaded for me to pick up the sharp object again I had to tell myself no. I have to cope. I have to cope. I have to cope. These words repeated in my head over and over and over. I feared I would be sent away. The freak who would self-harm to get through her problems.
I had to convince myself I was never a freak. I was 15 and did not know how to cope. Up until this point, I thought I had been coping with the sharp edges taken to my wrist and thighs. I was scared to even touch something sharp for fear of relapsing.
Eventually, I learned to cope differently. I would listen to the sounds of the woods behind my home. I would scream and cry and show my emotions rather than take them out on my skin. That was the first step. I still longed for what I thought was the “easy way out.” I would ask myself, “Why do you feel grief after giving up self-harm?” or “Why do you feel grief after no longer hurting yourself?” My therapist said it was my reaction to losing a part of my life that I had become accustomed to. I would nod and agree, but I never really understood. I was a child. Only 15.
Today, I still listen to the summer sounds of the cicadas in the trees or watch the snow fall from the windows when life gets to be too much. I talk without screaming my feelings into oblivion. Perfection is something I had strived for but never had I expected for my scars to be included in my definition of self-perfection. Although many of my scars have faded and the sharp objects in my shower are now simply razors for shaving, I know it’s okay to be depressed or anxious.
It’s okay to have to cope with life. It’s okay to go to therapy. It’s okay to feel like the world around you is crashing down. It’s okay to use a razor to shave. It’s okay to have to cope with the everyday tasks of life.
It’s okay to have to cope. It’s okay to have to cope. It’s okay to have to cope.
You are worthy of love and grace, from others and yourself. You are enough, here and now. If you’re dealing with self-injury or self-harm, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].