I do not want to be afraid
I do not want to die inside just to breathe in
I’m tired of feeling so numb
Relief exists I find it when
I am cut
I was 18 the first time I intentionally cut myself. I was “dating” a guy five years older than I, and he ended our “relationship.” (That’s in quotes, because we didn’t really have any kind of relationship. He wouldn’t take me out in public or introduce me to his friends. We just made out a lot.)
Troy was an ass. I’m not even going to change his name, because he doesn’t deserve it. He gave me the ultimate “It’s not you, it’s me” speech: “It’s like I’m on a diet, but I love chocolate, and someone is dangling a big piece of chocolate in front of my face.” Yeah. He broke up with me for being too tempting. I suppose I should’ve been flattered or something, but I was heartbroken. Also, I felt like a slut, which was confusing since we’d only kissed.
It hurt terribly, and hurting was bad, and I had no idea what to do. My feelings were too intense for a teenager with no coping skills, so I shut down. I took those emotions and stuffed them deep down inside where I wouldn’t have to look at them or—most important—feel them.
Dissociation isn’t a common term, so a brief explanation from Psyke.org, a website dedicated to self-injury healing and support:
Dissociation is “a psychological state in which the indivual experiences an alteration in consciousness, memory, and sometimes identity.” People who experience it may feel detached from their bodies, a floating sensation, or a sense that they are separated from their bodies, watching themselves. Everybody has experienced mild dissociation — for example tuning out when someone is talking to you. But some people use dissociation as a coping mechanism. The dissociative states they may experience sometimes become overwhelming because of how long they last or their intensity. Self-injury is way to reduce, prevent, or stop a dissociative state.
To put in it personal terms, I distanced myself from my emotions so well that I had to find a way to feel again. I didn’t want to actually experience my emotions, because they were uncontrollable and awful, so I chose to feel physical pain instead.
The first time I cut, I locked myself in the bathroom with a safety pin and scratched Troy’s initials in my forearm. I watched the blood bead along the jagged lines and felt…relief.
There are those who believe self-injury is an attention-seeking behavior. That may be true for some, but certainly not for me. After my first episode (it’s hard to tell people that clearly-defined initials are a cat scratch), I cut in ways that could be hidden or disguised as accidents. I didn’t want attention—I just wanted to feel better.
I was sure I must be insane. I’d never heard of someone cutting herself on purpose. What kind of nutjob would do something like that?
I felt ashamed and alone.
I’m 34 now. I’m not alone, and I’m not ashamed. I feel things fully instead of avoiding uncomfortable emotions.
But every once in a while (shhh…don’t tell) I miss the easy release.
Being an adult is hard.