Living My Truths

Internal -> external pain

I used to self-harm: I pulled my hair out in clumps, I pinched and scratched myself, I hit my face and other parts of my body until they bruised.

I suppose a little backstory is in order…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve battled with feelings of unworthiness. As a child, I developed a deep sense of inferiority (the roots of which are varied and complicated). I didn’t feel like I was enough — not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, interesting enough.

And so I sacrificed my authenticity. I adopted perfectionist and people-pleasing habits to cope, always searching for that approval, that validation that I was, in fact, enough. I was labeled as shy and timid, but really I was paralyzed by the fear that I would do something to cause somebody, anybody, to not like me.

The search for validation from others continued into my adulthood, namely, in my close relationships. I still believed that I wasn’t worthy. And in one relationship, that internal, misguided belief proved especially destructive.

Like in many romantic relationships, there were arguments. There was fighting. But to someone who places their sense of self in others, fights are heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, utterly devastating. It reinforced my childhood belief that I wasn’t deserving of love.

On my end, there was a sense that I wasn’t being seen or heard. I felt like I could never be right, that by default my feelings and opinions weren’t valid. And so I eventually turned to physically injuring myself. I felt so helpless, like it was my only means of communication. It felt like the only way to show that my internal pain was real, to paint it on my external canvas.

Until recently, I really didn’t know myself. I had spent far too much of my life trying to be someone that everyone would like (an impossible task). For so long, I felt like my voice didn’t matter, that it didn’t carry any weight or credibility. One of the purposes of these posts is to reclaim my voice and my story.

This isn’t about that boyfriend, or those self-inflicted wounds. Our belief systems, the stories we tell ourselves, have immense power over our realities. Our unhealed traumas dictate and limit our present experience. And so I offer this, in hopes that others will begin the essential journey toward self-healing.

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12 thoughts on “Internal -> external pain

  1. You, my dear, are so much more than worthy of love, respect and being yourself. I could not love another you more. You have accomplished so much more than I have even dared to dream of.

    Unfortunately we all have our inner secrets that we never share because we are so afraid to let others see our vulnerabilities. I have always taken comfort in food. Food never talked back, belittled me or my feelings. I know a little of how you have felt. I know the feeling of not being “enough”.

    You are a very brave, extremely intelligent and beautiful person inside and out. Please always feel welcome to take refuge in our home – you have always had our hearts.

    • This comment means so much to me, Yvonne. I feel the love pulsating through the screen, and I’m so very grateful to have you as part of my family.

      I completely agree about the widespread fear of vulnerability. It’s so unfortunate, because it’s when we’re our true, courageous, vulnerable selves that the most lasting and meaningful connections develop. We definitely need more compassion (beginning with self-compassion) in this world, which naturally comes when we remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has experienced pain and fear and heartbreak.

      I’m right there with you, seeking comfort in activities that numbed. Your feelings are valid and important to me. You can be one of my “enough” soul sisters 😉

      Thank you for everything. Your home is one of my safe spaces, and I’ll get a chance to spend more time there soon. I’m trying to figure out how to attend Brandon’s graduation celebration! Hopefully, I’ll see you there ❤

    • I definitely could not tell these stories without the inner strength I now have. Thank you for taking the time to read along 🙂

      And my one second video from the last six months of travel is actually done! I’m working on what to write to go along with it, hopefully I will post it in the next couple weeks.

  2. this beautiful truth telling AND your courage to walk the path of healing, are exactly what the world needs to hear more. Thank you for being refreshingly real. I’m so grateful to know you.

    • Thank you so much for your support, Sylvia. I had the same ideas in mind — that the world needs more honest, vulnerable conversations & more people making the journey toward healing themselves. To effect any amount of meaningful change in my small circle of friends and family, I realized it had to begin with me.

      I’m so grateful to know you, too. And I’m so grateful to TRE for giving me this amazing, self-healing tool, while also connecting me to such a wonderful community.

  3. Pingback: Discarding the apology habit | Wander. Learn. Repeat.

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