Look at Where You Are, Look at Where You Started

By Angela ZagoneAugust 31, 2017

I sobbed over the phone to my best friend Sam—I couldn’t help but wonder how I had gotten to this point again. I was at a hockey game, having a panic attack.

I walked myself outside to the corner of a stairwell and I couldn’t stop crying or shaking. It was almost impossible to hear her, but Sam just kept telling me to slow down and breathe for a minute. I kept telling her that I would be OK, and that I wasn’t going to go home and hurt myself again. But I wasn’t saying this to reassure her. I was saying it to myself. I needed to hear those declarations out loud. Because maybe if I said it enough times, I would begin to believe it.

I wish I could go back to the moment I relapsed this year and tell myself the same thing Sam told me: “Slow down and breathe for a minute.” I wish I could tell myself that self-harm wasn’t the answer. It didn’t help before, so why would it this time? I was trying to fix broken bones with band-aids, never actually addressing what needed my care and attention.

After my relapse, I couldn’t help but to feel like a fraud. Had the time I previously spent in recovery been a farce?

As someone in leadership at my local church, I sat across from girls every single week and taught them to run from things like self-harm. How was I going to face them now?

Soon, people began to catch on—quickly realizing that something was indeed wrong. I was hiding my scars, but I couldn’t hide my sorrow.

So I decided that it was time to let go of the shame and disappointment I was harboring, and not hide from it anymore.

I told someone I trusted.

And as I sat across from one of the girls I disciple, her asking questions about my history with self-harm, I saw my isolation begin to disappear. I wasn’t alone in my struggles; more people were walking through this pain than just me. I even found that a few students in the ministry I serve were battling self-harm, too.

I started to let go of the guilt and shame I felt about my relapse. I hoped that by pushing what I struggled with out of the darkness and into the light, I could start to silence the lies and speak the truth. By speaking up, I could finally be genuine and honest about where I was and where I am—maybe encourage others to do the same. Because some people need to see that someone is willing to start the conversation. To inspire courage to say how you’re feeling, share what you’re walking through, to finally seek help.

I’ve started looking at the question of “How did I get here?” a little differently since then. This is not the first time I’ve struggled, but I pray it will be the last. And if you had told 17-year-old me that I would be alive at 20—I would’ve told you that I didn’t want that, that I didn’t want to keep living. But I did. I’m still breathing, and I’m grateful for that.

Recently, a friend quoted a lyric from the musical Hamilton to me: “Look at where you are / Look at where you started / The fact that you’re alive is a miracle / Just stay alive, that would be enough.”

I’ve made it too far to quit now, and I’ve fought too hard to give up.

You’re still here to tell your story, too. And that is more than enough.

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Comments (4)

  1. Polya

    Sometime I think that I can’t escape from self-harm. Yesterday I didn’t want to hurt myself again because of my drunk dad. And he was sober. But i did it. I don’t know why, so I hope that I’ll wake up one day and I’ll stop. But I don’t know if I can wait for this day…

    Reply  |  
    1. Becky Ebert


      We hope you are feeling better and have found some clarity since you wrote this. We understand that it is difficult to give yourself the respect and grace you deserve, but you are worthy of it no matter what.

      Please email us at [email protected] so we can provide you with some encouragement and possibly know more of your story, if you would like to share.

      We hope you will seek out help, and we invite you to start here at our Find Help page: twloha.com/find-help

      You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 via Crisis Text Line at any time (it’s available 24/7, 7 days a week). It is free of charge, and you will be connected with a trained counselor. They want to help you. Remember that you don’t have to go through these struggles on your own.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  2. Rachel

    Thank you for this. My partner has BPD and self-harm is always the ghost in the room. It is so very hard to understand and so very heartbreaking from the standpoint of someone who loves another that self-harms. A short time ago, a psychiatrist told my partner, the best cure for self-harm is not to self-harm. It simply doesn’t solve the problem and then leads to self-loathing and then the spiral begins. She’s been in recovery for 2 years and uses other techniques she’s learned, but life isn’t perfect–we’re human–and yes, every day I have with her is a beautiful one.

    Reply  |  
  3. Amanda

    Really connected with this. Thanks for sharing <3

    Reply  |  
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