The Struggle Within

I’ve been reading a lot of moving, starkly honest posts from my fellow bloggers the last few days (specifically Julia @ feedmedaily.blogspot.com, Lauren @rebuildhealthandhome.com and Jen at mewhoami.wordpress.com). I am so impressed by the honesty, candor and tenacity of each woman’s struggle. Their posts are enlightening, heartbreaking and inspiring. Their topics are also forcing me to look closely at myself, at the battle I’ve been fighting for months now.

It is my turn to confess,and it’s something other than what I’ve already been so open about. For the last few months, I’ve been fighting the urge to start self-injuring again. I’ve been “clean” for 10 months, something I never thought I would say. The cutting/self-injury truly began as a child, when I would pull my own hair or smack myself when I felt I had screwed up. I then began using alcohol to quell the insipid thoughts. I couldn’t drink when I went through the break up with my ex fiancee, so I began cutting. And cutting has been the hardest devil to exorcise.

I just sort of tried it one day. I remember thinking people who did that must be crazy, why would you want to hurt yourself? It was so messy and ugly and awful. But one day, I picked up a razor blade I’d been using to cut tape as I packed and slid it against my skin. It hurt, of course, but then came the rush of adrenaline. This was pain I could control! One cut led to five additional angry lines.

I hid it pretty well, keeping the cuts under my clothes. My ex and I were still living together, but sleeping in separate rooms. But one day he saw me as I was changing and threw a fit. He demanded I explain why I was doing this-did I want to kill myself? He could not understand that the cutting made the internal pain “external” and therefore (in my head) superficial. I was ashamed when he discovered the cuts, but the pain in his eyes was, sadly,   impetus enough to add another 20 lines on my side.

After a physical fight with my ex that ended with me staying overnight at a coworker’s I finally confessed to a coworker about the cutting. She was terribly upset and told me I should call or text her anytime I felt like picking up the razor. My ex hid my razor, but I managed to obtain another that I hid from him. This continued for weeks until I could not handle it anymore. I handed my ex the razor on March 2, 2012 and I have not cut since.

The last few months have been hard. I do not drink (I am allergic!) and I cannot and will not do drugs so I used the cutting to cope. After I moved back home, I channeled that pain into my running, and trained for my first half marathon, as well as adding on 5 pounds of muscle. But then the half was over, and I had injured myself. I had no outlet for the stress and pain, and there were reminders that my ex was moving on as though I never existed everywhere. I felt so horrible explaining to my current boyfriend that I had ever done such a thing. He, of course, was completely wonderful and caring. His love is the thing that I believe is getting me through all of this.

It’s truly difficult to try to explain why cutting becomes so addictive. There is such a stigma around it-that only overdramatic teenagers do it, looking for attention. I always try to “fix myself” and during my darkest time, I found the organization To Write Love on Her Arms. Their movement and campaigns have helped me through dark times, and wearing a TWLOHA wristband can often remind me that I don’t need to cut. I understand what’s going on in my head a bit more thanks to this organization and when I need a reminder, I slip on the wristband.

So that is my confession, my struggle. I am a magnificently flawed, resilient and hopeful person and I thank my fellow bloggers for giving me the strength to open up.

And to K and S: you girls saved me. I love you both.

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3 thoughts on “The Struggle Within

  1. You are very brave to confess this and I commend you for it. I fully understand why this can be so addicting. Not only is it something you have control over, it’s also a form of self punishment. Just like smacking yourself when you were younger. I know, because I used to do the same thing. But, it’s important to realize that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to have feelings. I love that the TWLOHA organization has helped you so much and I believe that you will continue to find help here, especially now that you have opened up about this. Plus, you never who how many people you may help that are dealing with similar situations. And, please don’t be ashamed later that you posted this…we all have skeletons in our closet. Stay strong.

  2. Oh Lisa, just reading this now. (This is also my second time trying to get a comment through so apologies if there’s a repeat!) I’m so glad you’re starting to feel comfortable writing about the difficult stuff. It’s all part of the healing process, and you’re well on your way. I never cut, but I have, in the past, been self-destructive in myriad ways. One of the reasons it’s such a difficult habit to break is your body’s physiological response: you’re getting a rush of endorphins that you’re not getting otherwise, so of course it’s enticing to continue. This is something I need to do, too; find an alternate source of endorphin rushes and use those when things get tough (impromptu solo dance parties? jogging? yoga?)

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