~Exit Signs In Blood Lines~
*Author’s note, self-harm is a long and hard recovery road, please ask yourself if you are in a place to read about someone else’s self-harm experience before reading on. If you need to talk to someone here are some options. I love you, Warriors. Keep. Going:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
There is a warm bathtub, the first few moments you hit the water it hurts while your body gets used to the change of temperature. Then, an immense calm fills your body. You sink deeply into relaxation and warmth, let it hold you. It feels so good you wonder why it took you so long to think of doing this for yourself.
This is exactly how self-harm felt to me. It was not violent or destructive. I was entranced by the blood and the lines. It was beautiful, like artwork. Validation that there was life inside of me after-all. It never felt like self-harm, never felt like I was harming myself. Sometimes, it served as a release from pain, sometimes it was the only thing I could feel, sometimes it was better that I was the one controlling the pain and not someone else.
The first time I self-harmed I didn’t even know it. I woke up one morning to discover scratches on my skin. I didn’t know what had caused them, years of experience have now told me I did it with my fingernails. It became a joke in my family that maybe there was a poltergeist in my bedroom, and we watched the movie that night. A doctor once asked me which one of my friends taught me how to self-harm. The answer Is none of them. The scratching was all my own and when I discovered cutting, it was from an HBO special about the dangers of cutting. To this day, I think there has to be a better way to educate people without also handing over a how-to book. I am over 30 and still have to convince myself cutting is not a good idea. My skin still itches for the feel of metal. I started at 13.
My self-harm morphed, I tried skin picking, burning, scratching, anything to remove my own skin. I did it so often I didn’t even notice I was doing it anymore. I would be scratching off skin while having a conversation with people and not have any idea. I started to wear gloves. I started to have fake nails. Finally, I started to not rip my skin off.
Self- harm can also look like an eating disorder. It can look like ignoring hygiene, giving things up you really enjoy because you think you don’t deserve them, staying in bad relationships. I am a writer. Some of my stories I have written into my own skin, they are the hieroglyphics of my life past. Some of my stories I have to put on paper, so my present and future, which I have fought so hard to have, can help someone else feel less like I did.