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.