I am going to touch on a touchy subject today. This is in no way professional advice this is purely my own opinion.
Maybe you have harmed yourself in the past. Or know someone who has struggled with this. So many times we only think of this in the physical aspect. I think everyone at some point in their life has purposely Self Harmed whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Why do people self harm and what does it look like?
This is something I have been pondering a lot lately. The friend who inspired me to write this blog had me keep her favorite DC Batman dagger for over a year. She was experiencing the worst bout of depression so far and didn’t trust herself to keep it in her own home. Growing up through high school she cut on a daily basis. I am honored that my friend grew to trust me in such a way that we can both live our lives in complete honesty with each other. During high school I was going through my own crazy world and didn’t know how to respond to her self harm other than to love her unconditionally. It didn’t matter what she did, I would always be there. I always spoke hope into her life telling her things would get better. At that time I thought my life was finally on track and going really well. However, I had also self harmed in the past in different ways without knowing how to explain why so I had no definite answer for her besides, “I love you and God does too”.
I have never been one for blood, needles, or sharp objects. I had tried to cut myself once but couldn’t make myself draw blood without passing out. I had turned to burning myself instead as well as isolating myself from people as much as possible. Emotionally I would run through scenarios in my mind that would torment me, it seemed the emotional self harm was much more effective than physical. I didn’t want to seek attention. I just quietly wanted my life to change, I just didn’t know how to make it happen.
I was never great at using my words I was always quite and shy. I grew up especially sheltered and put myself in a prison. Towards the end of high school I seemed happy on the outside. I was engaged and planning a wedding, I was working full time, and I was desperate to change. I wanted to be more outgoing. I was also very angry with my family and wanted out of the house so I was running away any way possible. I moved out of my parents house the day I graduated.
The first time I was able to communicate to my parents how I was feeling was in the 9th grade. I was dating someone behind my parents backs, sneaking him in to the house at night. (SO STUPID!) And I got caught. This was in my darkest moments. At the time I was taking handfuls of Tylenol 3 that I had saved up from some dental work and drinking half a bottle of liquid sleep medication. I was so lost, angry, and sleep deprived. I would dream not stop in the night and I felt as though I was not getting any rest at all. When my parents caught this young adult (He was 18 I was not) I thought I would die from shame. I knew what I was doing was wrong; however, this was the first person I could talk to about everything. I got so emotionally attached that I continued talking with him anyway possible afterwards. My dad threatened to kill him and send him to jail, as every father should… This was my breaking point, my father had picked me up from school so we could “talk” and he said some lovingly heartfull/hurtfull things at the time out of anger and protection. One specifically that wrecked me, “Kathryn I am really disappointed in you. Do you know what your name means? It means purity, but now I don’t know that I can trust you.” In that moment I felt like my whole identity as his daughter had been ripped away.
Then one of the best things in my life happened. I feel that way now, I did not then. My parents sent me to Germany and Poland for a month on a mission trip. I had so much time to think while I was there. At first I was angry because I thought they just didn’t know how to deal with me and were shipping me off. Then I came to this place of repentance. I know that the things I had been doing to myself caused them a huge sorrow. I can only imagine that they were also reflecting during this time to figure out what went wrong. I did want to go to Germany, I had taken German for 3 years and spoke fluently enough to travel on my own. This was the beginning of a life long love for traveling overseas. Out of this trip I came to this place of striving, I was now a servant to my parents seeking their trust again, and a slave to my thoughts of being unworthy.
When I returned from Europe after a month I had not called my parents even once during my travels. I called once I landed in Texas, to make sure that they would remember to pick me up from the airport. I was only 16 and didn’t have life together at that moment. When I got home they were happy and loving and wanted to hear all about my travels. I was exhausted and it took a week to really process what had happened so I could share. I was to terrified of talking to my parents that I would pass out from fear. So I wrote them a letter. It was the first time I was able to put my whole heart into words. (To this day my family takes my writing very seriously as I have many dreams that come to pass and I can’t hold back from being completely honest when I am writing.) My parents both read the letter and we all cried a lot. But nothing really changed, no one knew what to do from here. High school had ups and downs like every teenage goes through, but I finally made friends. There was a lot of favor on my life and I did good academically.
I moved away to North Carolina and my life was never the same. I finally learned that I wasn’t a servant/slave. But a daughter of the perfect Father God. I know that my parents aren’t perfect, but I love them dearly. What I learned I brought back and my whole family became radically changed. (I will share this story sometime in the future)
That is what Self Harm looked like for me in the past…
So Why did I and others Self Harm?
I have only recently come to this conclusion in the last 3 months. In my situation I caused Self Harm because I desperately wanted to see healing.
When you get hurt, cut, burned, etc. A process begins. First you feel pain – for many who have locked away their emotions you just want to feel something, anything. Then you may feel regret, not always but in some cases. You wait for a few days of uncertainty then it happens. You wake up with the scab.. now you have visual proof. If not my whole life and least one tiny little thing in my life is beginning to heal. I will recover, if this small wound can over time repair itself, then just maybe My heart with also heal.
Seek Out Healing
So if you are someone who struggles with self harm, I want to encourage you. There is so much more to life. You can receive healing without the physically manifestation of pain. Please take pride in your life and health. You are so important and you do not deserve to suffer. You deserve the best, you are wonderful and there is a purpose for you to be here on this earth at this time. There are people who need to met you, not only will it change their lives but yours also. Be honest, be truthful, and above all be loved.