Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Cutting Away the Pain


An online pal wrote something on an SI forum that really struck me. Now some of you readers (you know who you are) are not going to like this post. But in an attempt to be gut-wrenchingly honest, I'm going to write it anyway. Besides this is my blog - if you don't like it, don't read it !

My online friend was asked by her T for a "good reason to stop Si-ing." Her response, "No. I don't have any good reason to not si....Cause I'm trying to peel back the shame I still feel about cutting."

I'm going to "borrow" part of her disclaimer before I post further too - DISCLAIMER - I do NOT encourage SI. If you don't now, please don't start. If you do and are thinking of stopping, please do. And if you can't handle reading about it, stop right now and come back tomorrow.

What she wrote is that, "Self-injury, while it may not be a healthy coping mechanism is a way to cope. A way I'm using right now. Self-injury is a fairly "normal" response to the extreme pain we've been through and are going through. What I'm going through. I'm not a freak. I'm not diseased. I'm just in pain. Self-injury is not the worst thing in the world I could do. These small cuts on my skin will heal. Quickly. Few of them, if any, will scar. There are a lot of things I could do that would be more damaging and more long lasting. Things that I could become a lot more addicted to, or that would leave lasting effects. I'll leave that one open. Use your imagination. Self-injury while damaging can also be done fairly safely. As long as I don't cut too deep, too close to major blood vessels, and keep the wounds clean. Which is all very reasonable for me, and I think most who SI. I'm not trying to kill myself by self-injury. If that's what I really wanted to do, I'd do it some other way. Common misconception that drives me mad. So you know what? I release my shame, I release my guilt, I release it all. Anyone who wants to tell me I'm bad or sick to cut, go ahead. If I'm think I'm sick, what do you think about the people who caused the real pain in my life?"

At the end, she said "that was freeing." And I found myself nodding. I imagine it was. Too many people want us to "get over SI-ing" just like we are supposed to "get over the abuse." I'm not talking about those that want us to be safe - I'm talking about those that make no effort to understand SI, think it's freaky and just want us to "knock it off already."

I am "supposed to" want to stop Si-ing. And I do....sometimes. It is "supposed to scare me." And it does.....sometimes. I am supposed to understand that "it is controlling me and not the other way around." I do understand that and agree with it.......sometimes. I am supposed to think Si-ing is "bad, not healthy, not productive." And I do.......sometimes.

I want to stop SI-ing when I go to put on shorts and stop. When I walk out of the shower and my husband stares at my leg. When I have to be accountable to people. But that's not stopping because ~I~ want to stop. That is stopping out of guilt and shame. And I've done (or not done) too many things out of guilt or shame. I don't want to go down that path again.

I want to stop SI-ing when it scares me. And when it seems to be controlling me, instead of me controlling it. I'm honest enough to admit that that happens sometimes. I want to quit when I get in the mood to be healthy and "normal." That's rare these days, but it does happen.

When I SI, I am not trying to kill myself or end up in the hospital for that matter. I'm not seeking attention. Actually I'd rather no one knew. I do have thoughts of suicide, but not when I'm SI-ing. They are separate and distinct feelings. I've never ended up in the hospital, needed stitches, gotten an infection, or anything else dangerous from SI-ing. In fact, at this point I have no scars (well, maybe a few from picking on my arms). I keep myself supplied with band-aids, antibacterial cream and mederma anti-scar lotion.

So why do I do it? Because it's healthier than most other alternatives. And believe me, I've tried quite a few. It works. It releases the guilt, the shame, the panic. It makes me calm. Helps me regain control and a sense of balance. Keeps me going when all else feels like it is crashing inside. And it is not hurting anyone else. Most people don't know. It doesn't affect me at work, church or with friends. Well, okay, aside from the having to be careful of attire issue.

The online poster said "I'm trying to peel back the shame I still feel about cutting." That hit home. But I'm conflicted about that too. On one hand, I want to throw caution to the wind and say "hey everybody, I cut to feel better. Screw you if you don't like it. It works for me." On the other hand, I want to just stop feeling shame about it, but continue to keep it quiet and hidden. On the other hand (yes, I know that gave me 3 hands), I do feel shame and I want to stop feeling that by stopping cutting.

I know that I need to want to do this for me, and not for anyone else. Some days I do. Other days I don't. I do know that I need to want to want to stop. I do want that. I do pray for the desire to want to stop. But in the meantime, I want people to know that I'm not crazy (well, I am but not for SI-ing.) I'm not dangerous. I'm not trying to kill myself. I'm not some raving lunatic. I'm just me......a messed up person who Si-s to cope.


Tina said...

Your post really makes those who have never SI'ed understand why you need to do it - and how it releases the pain you feel.

How has your DH been about it? If he thinks you are crazy for doing it, maybe writing this out for him will make him understand why you need to do it right now. Your SI only physically hurts for a little while, but it only hurts you and it releases your pain. His means of releasing pain does not seem to affect just him - it affects you as well when he blames, yells, or tells you that you are not doing enough to help yourself. Maybe that would put it in perspective for him.

April_optimist said...

I understand the compulsion. Been there briefly. What worked for me was to image a child hurting--as I once did--and asking myself what I wanted for her. I wanted her to play and laugh and be happy. When I felt the urge to SI I would imagine that child in a safe place and teaching her to play. I would focus on helping her to know that she deserved to be loved and happy. I talked with her about the unhappy, hurting, shamefilled adults who had hurt her--and how it wasn't HER shame or her guilt.

Silly as it may sound, it made a huge difference. And it's been a very long time since SI was something I've needed to do.

Lynn said...


I understand.

Becca said...

I'm very much a lurker on these blogs, but just wanted to say that reading this happened shortly after the first time I SI after...a while. Thank you, what you said made things in my head make more sense right now.