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.