Self harm is a private behavior. Due to this, it is difficult to get accurate statistics. Studies have shown that 1 out of 5 girls are cutting and 1 out of 7 boys are inflicting self-harm. Two million reports have been made, but how accurate are these studies? So many incidences go unreported. This gives you an idea of what is happening around us. Self harm is believed to be a learn behavior by peer groups or by social media. It is a behavior that is not often talked about and not often seen by many. Although Self-harm can be associated as a symptom of certain diagnosis, there are many cases where it is merely a coping skill, a way to feel something again or a way to numb the pain.
Sometimes in life we experience certain things that bring us to a dark place in our lives. Many are equipped with coping skills and others find their own coping skills. Right or wrong we are just trying to find something to remind us we are still alive and make the numb feelings go away. Sometimes we cut because the pain is so deep inside, it would be easier to feel on the outside. This will numb the inner pain.
No one grows up saying, “I want to self-harm.” I grew up in the 80’s, and I can promise you, self-harm was not a subject talked about. I remember being a little girl, playing in my room with my Strawberry Shortcake dolls and cabbage patch kids. My room was my safe haven. It was the place I knew that no one would make fun of me, a place I could just be myself with no judgment. It was my place where I could hide from the world and dwell in my pain. My pain started when I was 6 six years old and continued through my adult life. Like others, there were times the pain was so deep I couldn’t even feel anymore. When I was young I would just pretend to be someone else with someone else’s life, but that would only last until the next day when I had to go back to school. As I got older I was finding it harder and harder to pretend. How many nights I wish I wouldn’t wake up. In reality I just wanted to be seen, heard and know I was good enough. I was taught to cut myself from a friend. She told me he helped her. At first I didn’t understand what she was doing. One day I decided the pain was too much and I needed a release, I too started to cut. I would scratch myself to point I would bleed. I would just sit their and cry as I bled. I did it in places that people would not see. I did not think anyone would understand so it was my own secret.
How did I stop cutting? I realized that self-harming was not taking away the problem. I still had to go to school and face the problem. Self-harm was just putting a “band-aid” over the issue and yet not healing it. I found that letting someone in and understanding my pain was the best way. My coping skill was keeping a diary and talking to my best friend. When I felt the pain was once again too much I would write or call her. This helped me. There are many ways to stop cutting. In my book Numb 5 other girls share their journey and strategies to stop. For some it is a struggle everyday.
Once I learned what self love was, it is then and only then I knew I was enough. I changed my story and the meaning I was giving it. I found the gifts in my wounds. I no longer had the identity of a victim or survivor. I had a new identity of being a beacon of light that will shine.
Everyone has a story, some have many stories, however it is the meaning of these stories, which keeps us living it. What if we found the gift in what we thought was pain? What if everything happened to us for a reason? What if it was our past that brought us to where we are today? You have the opportunity to turn your past into something extraordinary simply by changing the meaning.
photo credit: Kali Kocherhans