One Year Clean

By Maggie Peterson

I remember the pain of self-injury, but not in the way that people might expect. I mostly remember the internal pain that led me to those moments: the shaking hands, the feeling that hurting myself was the only way to make up for the sins of my past, the way I wholeheartedly believed that I was doing the right thing by punishing myself. The shame. The secrets. The fear in knowing someone might see the recent marks if the corner of my shorts lifted up.

Throughout the entirety of my childhood and the majority of my teenage years, I never needed to self-injure. I had harnessed the ability to leave the present moment without even vacating the room. But that changed. Eventually, that desire boiled over and manifested itself in the form of self-injury.

I could no longer push my emotions down. I could no longer escape my trauma. So I turned to self-injury. I was 20 the first time I was “successful” at harming myself physically.

Over the last three years, I’ve strung together periods of time where I was clean from self-injury for a single day, an entire week, even ten months — only to relapse. It’s frustrating. But there’s no shame in that.

Today though, I’ve reached a full year of being clean.

So maybe it’ll be different this time.

Maybe I won’t relapse.

I have to believe in that possibility.

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve personally struggled with self-injury. Or maybe you know someone who has. Maybe you’ve never hurt yourself, but you think about it all the time.

I see you.

And I want you to know and to believe:

You don’t have to hurt yourself.

You don’t have to hate yourself.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

And while I may be one year clean today, there is not a week that I don’t have to remind myself that I do not deserve to hurt myself.  I do not deserve self-inflicted pain.

I deserve love.

I deserve to be free.

I deserve gentleness.

And so do you.

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Comments (24)

  1. Michelle

    I find it impossible to believe I deserve anything other than pain and hate.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      You do, Michelle. You deserve love and respect. Please treat yourself with kindness. You can always reach out to us at whenever you need someone to listen. Also, we do encourage people to seek out professional help in addition. By texting TWLOHA to 741-741, you will be put in contact with a trained counselor. Michelle, you are worthy of love and hope and help. Please believe that.

      Reply  |  
    2. Lucy

      So do I, a lot of the time. Practice self care even if you don’t think you deserve it. Challenge the negative thoughts by asking yourself for evidence of the ‘facts’ you’re telling yourself. Tell yourself that you deserve more over & over, even if you don’t believe it. Maybe one day it’ll sink in for both of us. Hang on in there. You aren’t alone.

      Reply  |  
  2. Gwen

    No matter what you’ve done, no one deserves to be physically hurt, rather by themselves, of by someone else!! God is love, and He loves you no matter who you are, or what you’ve done. Turn you life over to Him, and He will take care of you!! Things won’t ALWAYS be coming up roses, life is just life after all, but He can help you through anything you might be going through!! EVERYONE deserves to be loved and cared for!!

    Reply  |  
  3. E

    Thanks for this post! This month is 2 years clean for me after 11 years. I started when I was 19. I still can’t say it will be forever, I struggled recently, but I managed to stay clean. I wish I could say I believe I deserve everything you listed at the end, but I’m still working on it. It is clear to me though that the hard work is worth it!

    Reply  |  
  4. Theresa

    While I’ve gone several months now without hurting myself, and I can sometimes go days with out the thought of hurting me coming to mind, there isn’t a day that goes by that I feel that I’m deserving of anything more than pain by own hand. It is often the only thing I can control

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Theresa. Thank you for commenting. It takes true courage to write and address what you’re going through. We are so proud of you for finding the ability to go a significant amount of time without hurting yourself. You don’t deserve to hurt. Physically or mentally. So please continue down that path! We do encourage you to seek out professional help to sort through those thoughts you are having on a daily basis. You can look for local resources here: Or you can text TWLOHA to 741-741 and be put in contact with a trained counselor in a matter of minutes. Those thoughts don’t have to be yours forever. You can get better. You are so brave.

      Reply  |  
      1. Theresa

        I wish I could believe you. I look at my life and all I see is the things that happened. I feel so unclean

        Reply  |  
  5. Laura Wilson

    Keep on Keeping ON!!! I went to extremes… I tried to end my life several no more than several times…it was an extremely hard habit to break. I had to leave where I grew up to grow out of that hopelessness I felt inside me. I have been “clean” now for quite sometime…I think 2009 was my last attempt. It doesn’t mean the thought has not crossed my mind at times. But I tr to dismiss it as fast as I can. Like you I have to remember I am worthy of good things and to be happy. So in case no one told ya. I AM PROUD OF YOU

    Reply  |  
  6. Janeil

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I celebrated 5 years clean just last month and I can totally relate. You’re so brave for sharing this and have really inspired me to keep going. You got this.

    Reply  |  
  7. Lucy

    Thank you for this post & well done. Keep fighting, you’ve done amazingly & are an inspiration.

    Reply  |  
  8. SJ

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you for the reminder. Everyday is a battle worth fighting – I constantly remind myself that on my worst days; those are the days to remember that the better days will show me why I fight.

    Reply  |  
  9. Laur

    I pray every moment of every day that someday my daughter will be one year free of self inflicted pain

    Reply  |  
  10. Joyce

    Congratulations and good for you!! A huge step!! Best of everything for you Sami!! You are a warm wonderful beautiful Lady and yes you deserve to be happy!!

    Reply  |  
  11. Megan

    It’s so hard to keep myself from doing it. I’m afraid one day I won’t be able to stop myself. My friends think it’s insane that I even consider it, some don’t even talk to me ever since I asked them for help. I’m so alone. Am I supposed to pretend that every thing is ok? Because I don’t think I can anymore.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Megan. You are so brave for sharing your story with us. Thank you for reaching out.

      To answer your question, no, you don’t have to pretend that everything is okay. Maybe your friends can’t help you right now, or in the way you want them to, but there is help out there. You can get the help you need and deserve. Please visit our help page here: And if you are in need of professional help in an immediate sense, you can text TWLOHA to 741-741 via the Crisis Text Line. You will be put in contact with a trained counselor in minutes.

      You are so strong. You don’t have to pretend anymore. Sending love and hope.

      Reply  |  
  12. Jeannine

    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this, it’s beautifully written. I’m six years clean, but that sure as hell wasn’t always easy. These are really beautiful things to tell yourself when you’re feeling down or weak. Thanks for providing me some. I wrote them down and will remember them. We will keep going, always. Much love <3

    Reply  |  
  13. Jeanne

    I tend to be okay for a little and then I relapase. My parents, my family are there for me. I have everything I need in my life but there are demons that I have to face, that I have to be strong

    Reply  |  
  14. Ren

    I’m so proud of you, you are so strong! I was a year clean January 9 and I know how much of a proud feeling it is. Good job love, stay strong

    Reply  |  
  15. wren

    thank you

    Reply  |  
  16. Ashley

    This is beautiful. I can’t say I self-harm because of the same reasons you do, but it wasn’t until I was 19 or so when I started. It’s been eleven years now, and maybe one day I can say I’ve been clean for a whole year. Right now I can say it’s been five months. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply  |  
  17. Margaret

    every day seems the same. i see darkness beyond. no one understands how you take a blade n harm yourself or try suicide when they think your life is perfect.

    am sad very sad. wondering when i wont need something to 4get my pain…. not sure if i can ever fit in
    myb its

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Margaret, you don’t deserve to hurt yourself. You deserve love and hope and acceptance. Please allow yourself to feel and have those things. The pain you are feeling may demand to be acknowledged, but please do not add more hurt to it. You can always reach out to us at when you need someone to listen, but we do suggest professional help as well. Text TWLOHA to 741741 via the Crisis Text Line. You will be connected with a trained counselor who can help you through these times. You are worthy of love and help.

      Reply  |  
    2. Ren L

      Margaret, I don’t know you, but I know what you’re going through. I went through a really dark time when I couldn’t go an hour without a blade. I know how hard it is, but you are beautiful love. There is hope and healing for you, not only through TWLOHA but through so many other outlets that will not hurt you. I began listening to Switchfoot because I heard of them through this organization and the song This Is Your Life was one of the biggest pushes I got that inspired me to get help. I don’t know how or if we can connect but I will always be here for you in spirit and in prayer. You are strong, beautiful, and worthy of love.

      Reply  |