You are not what you’ve done. You are what you have overcome.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.
This post is probably going to be embarrassing for me to share. I hid it for many years, the fact that I self harmed and still do sometimes, even though the instances are greatly reduced. But the first step for me to stopping or at least stopping 95% was to admit it to someone. Not just tell them, but to physically show them. There is a saying in the 12 step programs that you are as only as sick as your secrets. The first person I told and showed was a therapist. The second person I told and showed was a friend of mine. The third person I told and showed was my brother. Recently, I started to admit it in my support groups. I tried to stop many times before and did stop for a short period of time, but always went back. I am not going to go into detail of how I self harm. That is not what is important, and I don’t want to set someone off and self harm themselves.
What is important is why I started self harming and still self harm. It is much much less, but I still self harm, sometimes every day. I started self harming because I felt physically ugly and because I had incredibly low self esteem. There are many times I still feel this way. I also self harm when I am anxious. I sometimes self harm when I am frustrated or angry. The weirdest thing is I found myself self harming half asleep.
I am single, have never been married, and I have no children. Many years ago I decided that I would not have any children, so I would not pass in my depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self harm, etc. on to them.
I have also been thinking that maybe I started self harming to remain out of a male/female relationship to begin with. I have had relationships before, just very short lived ones.
There was never anything terrible like being molested as a child or raped, but I never saw a healthy relationship between my parents. There was never any physical abuse at home, just emotional abuse and constant fighting between everyone. I was teased terribly by my brother about being fat. I was teased by 2 boys in high school and called grunt because one of my nervous habits was verbal. And I felt a lot of shame because of this.
So I have been thinking about this and been considering therapy again on this subject. I am still a fairly young woman and deserve a physical, loving relationship. And now that I have positive skills I can use, I think it is a good time to figure this all out.
Today I am learning that there are things I can do to not self harm in the first place or to stop before I can tear up my skin too badly.
First, I had to decide what I really wanted. Like I said before, I don’t want to set anyone off, so I won’t say what I did, but I will say where I did most of my self harm and that was to my legs.
I had to decide I wanted to be able to wear shorts or Capri’s or a swimsuit during the summer. I live in Arizona, and I didn’t want to have to wear long pants in 115° weather and to be able to go swimming.
So like I said previously, the first thing I did was to tell and show people that were safe, that would not shame me. I shamed myself enough. I also had to realize that there is nothing for me to be ashamed of. That it was how I coped and still sometimes still cope with my feelings. But I have to realize there are other ways to cope with my feelings.
I never really liked to write before, but I am kind of enjoying writing now.
After I started working with a therapist, I started telling myself my body is perfect just the way it is. That I am beautiful inside and out.
I then had to throw away the tools I used to self harm, which I have to admit that I am not 100° successful with. One of them has stayed thrown out, but the other has not. I have broken it up many times, but have repurchased it each time. I have never however used it on my legs again. My legs are now healed, and I now can wear shorts or a swimsuit and do most days. Actually, one of the tools I cannot throw out because they are attached to me.
Two great friends of mine now are special bandages that heal faster than regular bandages and bio oil that I buy on Amazon and Walgreen’s. But they are expensive, so I am really glad I don’t need them much anymore. I do still use them sometimes because self harm is really sneaky and fast.
But I am working on what to do before I even start.
I am working on my thoughts and attitudes.
I tell myself that it is OK to be frustrated. To stay calm and breathe. It is OK to get angry. What am I feeling? Sadness, loneliness, fear, anger, tired. What can I do about it. Act, don’t react.
This too shall pass. HALT. Don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
Finding positive quotes and writing them down. I am using many of them at the beginning of these blogs.
Loving myself, appreciating myself, being kind to myself.
Being grateful. I work with special needs children. My job helps me be grateful. I see their parents being so positive and loving. If they can do it with the challenges their children face, I can be positive.
Joining support groups. The energy that is created when recovering people get together.
Humor. Looking for the humor in a situation instead of the frustration or anger.
Music. There are some really great songs and videos on You Tube that resonate with me.
Petting my cat Tigger. Her fur is so soft, it is very soothing to pet her.
Using DBT (dialectic behavior therapy) skills. Radical acceptance, wise mind, distraction, self soothing, etc.
Helping others by sharing how I am doing in face to face support groups or Facebook support groups, and here on my blog.
One Day At A Time.