TRIGGER WARNING: Self Harm
For my birthday this year I set up a small donation on the very charitable social network called Facebook. It was for the national suicide lifeline. I did this because during the school year several of my students were hospitalized. I could’ve been one of them so many years ago.
Part of it is the pressure of being perfect. It really can be that simple for some people. But you have to understand that being perfect takes a lot of work. There are a lot of different people in situations that they have to mold themselves into. Depends how flexible you are and I am technically hyper flexible. This is actually a fact. No one needed to tell me I was hyper flexible but I did learn that hyperflexibility is a disability. It is also a source of pain. Some people think that because they cannot touch their toes there’s something wrong with them. When I was 13 and almost dislocated my right hip playing soccer, I was still able to go to the doctor, in pain, stand up and bend forward placing my hands flat on the floor. Behind me. For him, I wasn’t that damaged.
But I was damaged. Every month I suffered from bouts of sciatica so bad that I would limp or drag my leg around in high school. While an undergrad, I went to the College of Chinese Medicine in Santa Barbara because it was affordable acupuncture. I had so much scar tissue that built up over the years and the acupuncture was the only thing that helped mitigate the pain. The scar tissue had to be squeezing my nerve. I would lose sleep. And within 10 years of this injury I had numerous MRIs done to show me they had no evidence.
I am now 40 and I can still do this. But now they call it yoga. My physical flexibility has not benefited me. And for 13 years I played soccer with all my heart because it was the only thing that brought me joy. My grandfather said if I ever did that again I would have to take up golf. At 13? Please. But as it turns out my dad got me some lessons and I learned that I had a bad ass long shot. (Is that what it’s called? Well, I crushed it!) The next year my grandfather died. He was my mentor. Then I began to cut myself.
I mean what does cutting oneself really mean to the general public. The imagination could run wild.
You also have to understand that my grandfather died two days before my 14th birthday. So we had a death, a birthday and a funeral within a week. How could I honestly absorb being wished a happy birthday when the only person in the room that cared about me, in depth, was dead.
So one day I was walking in my parents front yard. They had begun to landscape on their own, planting several rosebushes and other flowers. They covered the ground with pebbles. I walk through the garden to offer myself a bit of grace, but I guess that’s not really what I was looking for. In all the rubble and space I found a heart shaped piece of glass. It took me a minute to realize it was glass and not a clear rock or some quartz tossed in. My brain processed this heart shaped thing as mine. Why would I have found some thing so small amidst all the other small things?
My heart was broken so I took a heart shaped piece of glass and tried to feel something.
I was embarrassed but it was my own private shame so… It’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to. I don’t recall doing this too much because I continued to play a combination of sports throughout high school until I almost broke my ankle my senior year. I was warming up for the state semi finals. There is a small hill to go over from the parking lot to the field. Whatever stupid thing happen next, I rolled my ankle and new it was at least a bad sprain. I played the next two hours on that ankle. It was a gladiator moment and I didn’t want to let my team down. I also didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch them play without me, again.
I think getting tattoos stopped the cutting. I didn’t really think of that behavior in the same way some people do. Some people say they get addicted to having tattoos etched into their skin. I don’t remember hurting myself like that but I did continue to get tattoos.
When I turned 30, my brain told me I didn’t want one more tattoo. I just didn’t need any more. The symbology I chose was telling my story. Unfortunately I realized that this was all mental illness playing itself out over adolescence and adulthood. I didn’t want any more tattoos but since I was in a bad relationship I began cutting myself.
When you are not allowed to express your feelings no matter how absurd or chaotic they are, you make decisions about how you’re going to handle it. In previous posts there are Easter eggs referencing some of those times. I never wanted to admit these things. They are part of the vulnerability that people tend to avoid. So to change the chemical reaction in my head, I took a razor to my skin and it calmed me down.
When I found a Psychiatrist we played medicine roulette until something started to work. And by work I mean numb me. Stop me from crying when I might naturally do so (which might not be natural to others). But I have a bad stomach and too many pills make me sick and it wasn’t stopping me from suicidal ideation. We agreed that I would stop taking the antidepressants and just take anti-anxiety meds. It’s the anxiety that makes everything worse. I believed I could survive if I took a blue pill.
I have since stopped this behavior. It likes to linger in quiet places until my brain becomes overwhelmed. I would rather destroy myself then hurt someone else. It’s perhaps best to do neither.
But this week has been really difficult. I’ve had some sort of breakdown for the last 7 days. My friends don’t need the worry. My bosses don’t care, they just hope I don’t cause more chaos than we’re already dealing with as this pandemic confuses leadership on how to lead.
Then I read an astrological statement that said during Mars retrograde you shouldn’t get a tattoo. This is because when this planet “takes a seat” you can apparently do more harm by getting a cut or burn. It would take longer to heal or possibly lead to other problems.
I have to be honest. I talk about honesty on here all the time but I’ve learned to be vague enough. Today I clearly wanted to come home and hurt myself. If only for a moment of relief. The worst part for me is seeing what I’ve done to myself. You might not know what I’ve done to myself, but my body and my spirit know that I’ve been fighting to stay alive.
The one question that pops up over and over isn’t why did I ever cut myself? It’s what am I keeping myself alive for?