Self-Harm vs. Authenticity

*Trigger warning: Self-harm*

 

 

Well, it’s time for me to out myself. I’ll do it AA style: Hello, my name is ____ and I am a self-harmer.

And I am working on recovery.

It’s difficult to admit to the f*cked up things I’ve felt or thought in my life. But I know now that hurting myself will not make things better for me. Maybe in the short term, but after that, people will just go back to living their own lives.

After a recent journey of self-discovery, I came to the realization that I hurt myself because I deeply want someone to notice me. Most of the time, I feel invisible. Unwanted, boring, the last person someone calls when they are looking for a good time. In my depressed mind, I convince myself that if I have a broken foot or a bruised and bloodied hand or a scar on my face, I will be more beautiful and, ultimately, more seen. To those of you who don’t struggle with mental health, I know you don’t understand. It’s a difficult thing to understand. Hell, sometimes I don’t even understand it. But my head does a great job of twisting the truth into lies that are nearly impossible to recognize. If it acts like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it must be a f*cking duck, right? Not in my head. I’m still learning that just because there’s a part of me that wants to beat myself senseless, doesn’t mean doing that is actually effective. Which is why I decided to write this post.

Earlier today, someone asked me if there was something that I’ve been wanting to blog about but have been too scared to write. Well, yes. There always is. But this one in particular is a big one. And I need to out Sasha. Because posting this will last a hell of a lot longer than any bruise or cut I could give myself. And maybe this way, I can stop being afraid and start being more authentic.

I don’t know if I’ll ever know or believe what it’s like to feel needed or wanted. Hopefully I will. But what I do know is that hurting myself will not get me the attention I desire. It won’t give me the love and connection I crave.

Earlier tonight I was having a tough time. We went on a meal outing in program, and I came really close to not showing up at all. I sat in the parking lot of the restaurant for a long time, crying, not understanding why I couldn’t just get up and go inside. Eventually, with the help of my therapist, I wiped my tears, pulled my hair up, and got out of my car. As soon as I walked in the restaurant I wished I had gone home. I felt all eyes on me. But I sat down at the end of table with everyone and stared at my hands, forcing my tears to retract back into my eyes. Within a few minutes I had a meal sitting in front of me, and I still hadn’t looked up from my lap. The conversation continued as it had before I was there, and I sat waiting for it to be over. But then, something happened.

I saw my friend stand up from her seat on the opposite end of the table and make her way towards me. I wondered if she was going to walk out the door like I wanted to, but she didn’t. She pulled out the chair across from me and sat down. I had been isolating myself. As much as I want people to see me, I want them to see the me that I want to present. Not the snotty, pale, broken me. And yet, here she was. Looking me in the eye. Asking me if I was ok. Willing to make that connection. And suddenly, I knew I could share myself with her, pain and all.

You see, even if I hate admitting it, I recognize that the attention I seek comes with authenticity. I can’t expect people to see me if I hide the parts of myself that I don’t like or am uncomfortable with. So, instead of creating the wrong kind of attraction by hurting myself, I’m publishing this post.

I don’t want this post to be misconstrued. I’m not looking for your pity, and I am certainly not begging for attention. What I crave isn’t superficial. I long for deep human connection. And I know that some of you reading this don’t know me very well, and I don’t want you to feel obligated to reach out to me. I’m doing fine. Just ask my therapist.

 

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when you’re lying on the bathroom floor
and you feel like giving up
don’t forget that there is at least one person
who will extend their hand
to help you stand back up
but they can’t reach out
if they don’t know where you are
it’s ok to let them see your heart
translucent through your skin
they will put their hand on your chest
and remind you that you are strong
tell them where you are
give them the opportunity to reach out their hand
they will come
they will help you up

 

-dedicated to the one and only train to my gilly

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i’m having one of those days where i just want to hide myself
sitting in this coffee shop with a bare face
no sunglasses or hat to hide my eyes
i feel like a sitting duck
like someone is just waiting to sit down next to me
and ask me if i’m doing ok
and i won’t have the strength to give the perfunctory response
i’m fine thanks
i’ll choke on it as it rises in my throat
and instead of words a sound will escape
guttural and raw
the bearings of my soul that have longed to escape
all because i could not hide my face

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there’s so much i want to say
but nothing i’m brave enough
to mutter out loud
in my head i beg you
to hear me
when will you realize
that this isn’t me
i don’t act this way
writing poems and
remembering you at
inconvenient times
you’ve flooded me
every cell knows
that i’m in love
such an unfamiliar concept
i don’t know how to express
what i’m feeling
when i don’t think i
understand it myself
how did i contort myself
into this creature
how did i convince myself
i needed you
how did i allow myself
to fall so freely
without seeing what
lies at the bottom
of this cavernous chamber
in my heart

Final Friday, or An Ode to My Dog Beach Divas

On my last Friday in program, my last Friday upstairs in the place where I started, my last Friday with some of my closest friends, I had to write about it. I hope you expected nothing less.


the three of us march side by side
not in any rush to get anywhere
except to the place that drew us together
we laugh and joke
with those around us
leaving our struggles in our wake
this is our time

we sit down by the water
watching the ducks swim by
anxiously waiting for someone
to take their dog on a walk nearby
so that we may experience some
unbridled joy that radiates
from the furry four-legged creature
amidst the stress of pushing ourselves

no matter the weather
i go with them
i bundle myself up
because i know what i have to sacrifice
to keep up the tradition
and after all it’s not really a sacrifice
it’s an opportunity
to be fully present with the ones
who changed my life
who taught me to rise above
the hardship and celebrate
the successes no matter how small

i know this is not the end
our friendship defies the walls
of the building that introduced us
and yet i still mourn
no longer seeing them every day
no longer joining them
for one hour at the end of every week
to take a collective deep breath
after all
it is a dialectic

so today i will spread my blanket
on the grass once more
and lay under a blue sky
the sun gracing us with it’s presence
as if it knew we needed it on this day
and laugh and share and breathe
together
on our final mindful walk


an ode to my other two musketeers, the Harry and Hermione to my Ron
i love you both so much
keep fighting
and remember this is not
goodbye

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the yin and yang of our breath
your exhale allows for my inhale
bodies melded together
rising and falling as one
whose limbs are whose
your slightest touch
the involuntary twitch of a finger
sends electricity
slicing through me
standing my hair on end
causing my breath to hitch
our skin radiates heat
and traps us in a cocoon
of our own making

can we stay here forever
i ask before sleep overcomes us
no you whisper
because when it ends
i can look forward
to the next beginning