Pouring My Heart Out...The Scars Remind Me That I am a Survivor
** Before you read this post, I just want to put a warning out there that this is about self-inury. It includes details that some may find disturbing.
The massage therapist frowned as she touched the 4 dark, yet smooth, scars along the inside of my left forearm.
"Got a cat?" she inquired.
"Uh, yeah....three cats," I answered.
She smiled. "Looks like one of them has quite a mean streak."
A brief wave of shame crept over me as a mental image formed in my brain...the image of me sitting on the edge of the bathtub on a cold, blustery day last December with a small paring knife in my hand, while the kids were downstairs yelling at one another.
"It's my turn to choose the next Wii game," one shouted.
Another one shrieked, "NO! You already chose one! I'm telling....Moooommmy, Mooooommmmmyyyyyy!!!"
The only thought in my head was, "Make it stop, dammit. Do something to make it stop".
And that's when I did it.
I pierced the sharp blade of the knife into the skin on my forearm and watched in silence as a thin stream of blood seeped out.
With a sigh of relief, I focused on the delicious combination of pain and release. A euphoric feeling pulsed through my veins, as I continued to cut again....and again....and again. I imagine it would be the same type of high a drug addict feels immediately after shooting up.
All the stress, chaos and negativity flows directly out of me and I'm left with a numb sensation for only a few minutes.
I crave that detachment at the most desperate of times, like when my head is cloudy and I can't think straight. Or when I'm on overload and feel like I may crumble into a million pieces if just one more person needs something from me.
I simply want to be free from any emotions. I don't want to hurt any more.
Yes, I realize that seems like an oxymoron. I don't want to hurt any more so I cut myself. It's a strange and mind-boggling coping mechanism. I get it. And I don't expect others to understand, unless they've been through it themselves.
Most of my scars are in places which are hidden, where no one else but me can see them.
To this day, I can't explain why I chose my forearm to cut myself....a site that is so easily visible to the world.
However, this was the very last time I self-injured. Almost 10 months ago.
I like to believe it was my inner conscience pleading with me, "This isn't healthy. You need to stop hiding and ask for help."
I also sought the help of a new psychiatrist, to whom I came clean about my unhealthy means of coping with the stress in my life.
You might wonder how a post like this with such graphic detail wouldn't cause a relapse.
You see, the scars on my arm remind me that I'm a survivor. I'm resilient and so much stronger than I give myself credit for. I can be in the depths of hell and still claw my way to the top, to enjoy the sunlight on my face.
Now, I find healthy ways to deal with my stress. I take a few minutes to myself and take deep breaths. I work out almost every single day, reveling in the positive focus and energy that exercise provides for me. And I remind myself that nothing is so bad that I can't deal with it, just like every other normal person on this earth.
Oh, it's not easy. It's definitely not an easy task to focus on more wholesome forms of coping But all I have to do is look down at my arm, at these four scars, and remind myself that I can do this. Life is full of ups and downs...that's just the way it is.
There is no reason for me to hide anymore. There is no reason to lie about it any longer.
I don't need to feel ashamed.
"Well, truth be told," I said to the massage therapist, who was now working her magic on my shoulders, "I used to cut myself."
She was quiet for a moment and then responded, "I've never told anyone else this but I used to do the same thing when I was younger."
"I use to feel such shame and disappointment in myself," she admitted. "But now, it seems like it was so long ago, know what I mean?"
"Yes," I answered. "It certainly does seem like a long time ago....another lifetime, in fact."