Between 2 and 3 million people in the US alone self-injure.
This is her experience.
I just want to start out by telling you about the gift God has so graciously provided me: I have an awesome, incredible, beautiful, rambunctious three-year old named Libby. She is my everything. Her smile, laugh, voice, everything about her makes me wake up in the morning with a smile on my face. She is my best friend, my ally, my stepping stone to true happiness.
We were sitting on the couch watching TV, and she was holding my arm with her hand.
She asked, “What happened, Mama?” when she saw my scars. I was in shock. I quickly changed the subject because she has the attention span of, well, a three-year old.
But I couldn’t get it off my mind. I know if you’re my friend or have ever been around me, you must have seen them. They are pretty noticeable. I’ve never tried to hide them; there’s no point.
I started cutting myself for the first time when I was 18 and a senior in high school. I was in a bad spell. This was before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.
I lost almost 20 pounds in three weeks, I cut all my hair off, I spent hours locked up in my room, and I felt so… numb. Lost. Hurting so badly inside. I felt stupid that I was so upset and depressed. I thought I was crying for no reason, that I was being a dramatic girl.
So, I tried self-injury one night. It felt like a world full of black and white suddenly went colorful. I finally felt the pain on the outside that I was so desperately feeling on the inside.
I continued cutting.
It felt good and I loved doing it to myself, as narcissistic as that sounds. I didn’t do it for attention, necessarily. Maybe sub-consciously I did; I can’t really be sure. I didn’t do it to try and kill myself, either. It gave me reason for hurting. It gave me actual scars instead of the ones on my brain and on my heart. Real battle wounds instead of the ones I could only speak of. I used to hide in my closet for hours and self-injure a little at a time.
The closet is my safe haven in my brain. Whenever I’m super upset about something – when it’s really bad – I hide in my closest, most of the time with no lights on, and I cry. I try not to, but the reason I go to the closet is that is where I used to hide when my father would beat the hell out of my mom. I would go in there, ears plugged, eyes closed, and cry.
I stopped cutting after I found out I was pregnant with Libby. I didn’t do it for over three years, until July of this year.
I’d called my then-boyfriend one night, freaking out. I was so lost, in such a dark place, so afraid of myself. I collapsed mentally. He had to carry me out of the closet because I was shaking so hard.
I don’t know how to answer the question to Libs when she asks me again. Honestly, I’m afraid: I’m not supposed to be weak. I’m supposed to be her mom. Her protector. I’m supposed to be her knight in shining armor. How do you explain that to a child? I don’t want to lie to her, but I don’t want her to look at me differently when she’s finally old enough to understand.
Are they battle wounds or are they just a crazy girl’s self-inflicted scars?