Yesterday I wrote a blog title Death, I can’t really explain what it is about because I wrote it out yesterday whilst thinking and can’t remember it that well. But I do remember that someone had commented on my facebook page and said that she wished I didn’t self-harm. She said she didn’t really understand it.
I like that she said that, so many people who don’t understand simply say, if you don’t want to cut anymore then don’t. That’s like telling someone, if you’re on a diet, don’t eat any more, if you want to quit smoking don’t smoke any more cigarettes, pretty easy answers I guess and true in ways, but if you have ever tried to stop doing something, you’ll know how hard it is and how much that thing niggles at you and you give in, always tomorrow right? To diet, stop smoking, stop cutting or whatever vice it is you wish to give up.
I can’t answer why everyone self-harms, but I can explain why I do it.
Have you ever been lied to? I’m sure you have. I want you to bring to mind just one time, but when it was a real big lie, one that really hurt. It doesn’t matter who did it, mother, brother, wife, husband, children, best friend etc. Anyone’s lies can hurt us deeply.
Do you remember the pain of it? The way it smack you in the chest so damn hard you couldn’t breathe. The way your stomach plummeted and your heart contracted in agony, pain that shot so deeply it brought tears to your eyes and angry to your cheeks. For those first few seconds you can’t think or can’t hear, nothing but your own heart beat in yours ears.
I’m sure right now if you are thinking of a lie that did that to you, you can bring all of those feelings to the forefront of your mind once more and you can feel it and you feel angry and betrayed and for some reason still can’t fathom why you weren’t worthy of the truth.
Remember that moment. Imagine you couldn’t say to that person who had lied to you, that you knew and that you were upset. Maybe they were at work, it’s only a few hours right? But its endless, this lie and the hurt goes through your body in torturous waves and you have to say something. It won’t stay inside. Even if it’s just picking up the phone and ranting to someone else about how you just got hurt. Sometimes the hurt from it feels like it will never go away. How can your relationship ever go back to the way it was? How will you ever stop feeling this hurt? Does it sound familiar?
Now instead of a lie, change it to something else, bullying, parents who don’t understand you, or in my case, abuse. That one lie hurts so bad doesn’t it? Even now, days, months, weeks even years later, there is a lie you can recall that still hurts. I know I have one from last year and when I bring it to mind it cuts inside the same way it did back then.
But what about child abuse? When someone is hurting a child. A child is so different to an adult, they don’t have the skills to process hurt and betrayal. They haven’t grown into an adult who understands these concepts, but they can feel this hurt, and they don’t understand it. But its more than that, when it is the parents doing the abusing, how does the child let out that hurt? The same hurt that you felt when you were lied to. For the child it’s a new additional hurt every day. Given to them by someone who is supposed to love them and care for them, but their actions say they aren’t worthy.
Me and so many other children had nowhere to go with that hurt. There was no one I could tell it to. No friend I could pick up the phone. No person I could yell at and make them take it back. I didn’t have the same skills available to me to deal with betrayal. And like liars, if you have ever noticed when you catch them, they get defensive, tell you how it was your fault, they deflect the blame so that they don’t feel any guilt. Much like a child abuser. So suddenly there is this child with pain and betrayal bigger than any lie could ever cause and words that point back at them that tells them it is their fault. What do they do?
They look in the mirror and they hate the face that stares back. They get mad at it. All that hurt and anger and pain and betrayal gets pointed at that reflection. Maybe they hit them, bite, scratch, cut, burn, pull the hair, but that face in the mirror has to pay, because it is their fault that child’s parents do what they do.
Multiply those days by weeks and then months and then years and then even some decades. The child is still there, just bigger and older. The pain is inside, but now it isn’t just one time, its years and years of betrayal by the people who were supposed to do the protecting. Every morning that adult wakes up, carrying years of agony inside them. For me, so many mornings just waking up is more pain than I can handle, I’m bursting with it, and the only way I ever learnt to let it out was to let it flow with my own blood and tears. So I do.
The next time someone lies to you. Bite your tongue, don’t confront them. Take it away and let it go silently. Can you do it? Or do you know you would only last so long before you exploded?
That’s self-harm. Minutes and hours trying to hold in the pain and nowhere for it to go.
Its not attention seeking. It’s not something that can just be stopped. It isn’t even a cry for help. It’s that moment when all the things inside need to come out but can’t, physical pain makes it better. Like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker before it explodes into a thousand pieces.
Sorry this is long, but I hope it explains it.