Self-Harm, Self-Care

CW: Self-Injury, Childhood Trauma

Today I painted my nails, shaved all of my body, and went to sound meditation.

I also had an immense breakdown that peaked to a battle between my strong desire to self-injure and strong desire to remain level-headed.

People that do not fight these daily/weekly/monthly/yearly battles held on the courtyard of guilt, shame, and triggers may not relate to this seemingly bizarre conflict…but to those who do, this is for you.

The urge to self-harm came about in my early tweens, once I started unconsciously relating my body to some unfathomable sense of guilt and shame. (A pretty common issue for many who have early childhood body-related trauma.) It began with scratching my arms- until I discovered other nifty tools for self-mutilation in my later teenage years. It never reached the point of feeling life-ending urges… only an urge to serve someone, anyone, the punishment that I felt was deserved to whatever was harming me. So I became that force, and that recipient.

For a long time now, the idea of self-harm has been nothing but a backseat memory of high school aggression and anxiety, saddled with sad stories of interpersonal conflict. It has rarely reared its head once more in my adult life. But ever since The Accident, I have been mentally thrown into reliving all of my previously won battles. All of my residual resentments, insecurities, paranoia, defenses, and even self-loathing have come back with a rage, a passion. And I have been dealing with them as best as I can for the past 4 months.

What this looks like is 2 months of physical therapy, 1 month of therapy, and attending groups. What this looks like is a person entirely capable of getting everything done in their day, yet still feeling as if they can never, ever, do enough.

What this looks like isn’t instagram-pretty painted nails, smooth skin, and lotus legs.

As much as we are told that the 3 things I did today are opportunities to pamper oneself- to some of us, these are opportunities to fight- to survive another tunnel.

Today I felt as if I lost the battle, just because I arrived to it. And that’s always the trickiest part. That’s the point where surrendering seems to be the only option. Fight through that shit- But be kind to yourself.

As long as you’re still here to see another day- As long as you’re still here to fight your next battle- you’ve won. Scars or no scars. And I’m proud of you.

Today I didn’t lose, because I arrived to the battle with strategies.

If your battle is with yourself, it only makes sense to invest yourself in knowing yourself. Find your strengths, find your strategies. And then use them every damn day.

What I have begun to do is make it a habit to cut and paint my nails when the urge strikes to pick or scratch myself.

I have made it a game to grow my hair as long and wild as I please, and then take small pleasure in erasing something off of my body- a physical representation of cleaning my slate.

I have held myself accountable for attending as many activities in group settings as possible, to find that sense of community with others struggling with the same demons. (Or at least with others committed to better understanding themselves past the surface of their conscious memory.)

And if you’re still reading and not relating, let me add this message as well: those of us struggling with urges to commit harm to ourselves are not lost in a sea of proving that we are worthy of pity. We are not your definition of crazy, if you consider us crazy. And just because we are not walking the same bumpy roads as yourself, that does not make us lost.

We are just finding our way through both our paths and our minds. At the same damn time.

So if you need to cut your nails, cut them. (*If the look of the nail file or blades is too enticing, ask a trusted friend to cut them for you.)

If you need to join a group, start your research and go. (I promise you they are worth it. Both helpful and lowkey hilarious.)

If you need to talk with someone other than your cat or your mother, find a PROFESSIONAL. (Or myself, if the spirit moves you. I’m always down to support.)

If you need to give yourself a time out, go sit your ass down elsewhere until you cool down. Write it out, draw it out, run it out….do it. I believe in you.

And I’m still right there with you, too.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

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