The Myth of Self-harm

Words can give us all sorts of wrong ideas about things. When I think of self-harming I immediately think of stories I’ve heard of people cutting their own bodies. I’ve never done this. I have driven along a road a night with my eyes closed daring myself to keep them closed as long as I could. I have drunk myself stupid on hundreds of occasions. I have spoken out in violence with the aim of hurting people I called my friends. I have said yes to sex when I didn’t want to. I have avoided the tender place of my heart that tells me what truth is and what I need for my own care. I have pushed myself to the point of collapse, going without sleep, without water and without food – because I hated what I was and what life was.

None of these behaviours are the same as cutting my body but everyone of them is an example of self-harm. Self-harm is hard to hide when you have bandages on your arms – but there are ways to hurt yourself that no-one sees. No one else may know your struggle, your pain, the enmity you feel to your very own existence, but the twisted soul screaming in turmoil is just as well harmed in secret as out in the open.

When we think of self-harm we may think of cutting or physical damage but the reality I know, that I have lived through, is that without adequate support to release, express and heal the growing pains of life, we can turn inwards and eat ourselves alive – inflicting damage that cuts just as well as any knife or razor blade.

I write this to blow the lid off a pleasant denial – that because we have jobs and cars and money and friends – that we in our modern lives are free from self-harm because there are no bandages on our wrists.

The thoughts we think, the hurt we hold, the denials we maintain, the truths we avoid, the yearning we ignore, the bullshit we believe, the morality we accept from corrupt authorities, the slavery we allow to bankrupt systems, the stories of shame and doubt and failure we tell ourselves about ourselves, the desires we postpone, the pain we let fester, the wounds we don’t heal, the liars we tolerate, the vulnerability we banish, the inner knowing we drown out, the intuition we ignore – in all these ways and more, we the “well adjusted” harm oursleves everyday.

This is not me blaming. I’m not blaming you or me, the people, the education or lack of support that got us here. It’s all ok. It’s a lesson, a test, a doorway into love. I say this to provide a reality check. Do not be deceived. Hurt comes in many forms. Pain is pain. Though you may not think you are harming yourself, you may in fact be doing just that with your choices, your beliefs, your agreements and the unexamined pain behind the eyes you don’t dare to see. But you deserve the care, you do. Though you may think others have it worse than you, they don’t. You matter. Your hurt matters. Your healing matters.

You may not be wearing bandages but you may be bleeding on the inside.

Seeing it leads to feeling it leads to healing it.

If this is you, I love you.

Support exists.

There is a way through.

May you find it and may you walk it.

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