I’ve wanted to make this post for a long time. But it’s difficult to talk about. Not in a sense about opening up about my own self-harming experiences, I’ve got enough impulsive habits to say just about anything. But because the subject is delicate.
I got upset when I watched the show “13 Reasons Why”. Not at first, at first, I liked the idea. Bring attention to the fact that bullying isn’t even like what it was in 2010, and the rise in aggression and violence in our kids is something that needs to be addressed. Kids are getting mortified in ways even someone my age couldn’t imagine. But the way it glorified suicide really got to me.
So I made it a point to try not to glorify mental illness. It can be difficult even as someone who experiences it because the fine line that separates glorification and empowerment. And I’ve had some thoughts on self-harm that I could see coming off as glorification, but I assure it is not. And I feel like this picture finally helped me put into words how I feel about it.
I don’t see myself as someone who is “proud” of their scars. I mean, I like to say I embrace them, but when it comes down to it, I know I don’t.
I started cutting in middle school. On the top of my forearm. I would carve words into my arm that I felt like worthless and useless. Words with too many letters for my tiny adolescent skin. When too many questions were asked I would find new places. I landed on my thighs because I got bullied so much for how pale I was, there was no way you would catch me in shorts, even in south Florida.
For years I cut. When I would have a panic attack, it would calm me down. When I was angry, it would help me stop to think. When I was depressed and numb, it gave me feeling. It was the only coping mechanism I had that seemed to work for me.
And you can talk about it to people. Everyone gets so worried. If you cut, you’re probably suicidal. Which I was, but I wasn’t going to cut to do it. I knew where to cut and how deep and what to do if I went too far. I’ve had several scares where I thought I would need stitches or there might have been an infection, but I took care of it by myself. Like I had learned to do.
And then I met my husband. He didn’t like that I did it when he found out. He would plead and beg that I would stop. At times he would even say, “cut me instead”. But that just made it harder. I would hide it more, I would hide my body from him when the cuts were fresh. And I wouldn’t talk about it.
You can’t ask someone who cuts to quit for you. Because what if they do? What if you’re the only reason they stay clean, and you screw up? They will go back their coping mechanism, will you have the love and patience to accept that? To return to someone more broken than before? Or let them quit for themselves and not push your opinion on them?
I eventually did stop cutting. Not for my husband, but for me. I regret falling into the downward spiral of cutting. I will always be a cutter because I always want to do it when times get tough. But I don’t because I don’t want to ruin my body. I don’t want to get infections. I don’t want to slip and bleed out on the bathroom floor like I almost did when I was 20. I’m done with that part of my life. Even if I miss it.
Because what I miss is the feeling of being alive. Being okay. The rush that it gives is what I miss. But I’ve decided on my own that I can find those feelings in a healthier way.
And now I come to the point where I have a leg decorated in stripes. They follow me everywhere. Anytime I look down I think “this one was from the time I got sent to the hospital. This one is from when my boyfriend dumped me while I was on an acid trip. This one is from when mom told me that she just can’t live around me anymore.” Constant reminders. I’m not proud of that.
But what I am proud of is how I am moving forward. I don’t want you to look at my scars and see a broken girl. I want you to see each battle I have overcome. There might be scars, but I’m still alive. And with all the intentional and accidental over doses, I shouldn’t be. I am a warrior, and these scars prove it. I was weak. And now I am strong. I am moving forward into a healthier and happier future. And not because anyone else wants me to. But because I want to.