I realized recently that I have never told the story about how my life went in the direction of self harm. I never took the time to explain the circumstances that brought me to the crossroads of choosing destruction or recovery. After telling a friend of mine a brief portion today, I feel like I may finally be prepared to tell me story. So, here it is. The very beginning.
When I was growing up, my family was very conservative, and very respected in our church. My father was a deacon, my mother was the church librarian, and all of us children were models for what the other parents wanted their own kids to be like. My dad taught a Sunday school class and RA’s (Royal Ambassadors), and my mother helped out with children’s choir. I was the obnoxious kid who always got the solos. Whether that was from talent or from having an in with the directors, we may never know. My brothers and I went to the school that was connected to our church. I always wanted to be teacher’s pet, and it was pretty often that I was up until we started homeschooling. Everything was perfect. This was my identity. I believed at that sweet, young age that my purpose in life was to live this way forever, and to be the center of my own universe.
But, as they always do, things changed. My family went through a rough patch, very nearly falling apart. You may or may not know the story of how we really did fall apart later on, but that’s a different tale for a different time. For now, what is important to know is that my family, based on what happened, was forced to move two states over, right into the middle of Georgia.
This was where I first felt the onset of depression. I didn’t realize it until many years later, but it was just as real at age twelve as it is for somebody in their mid forties. Everything in me snapped and nothing felt whole again. I was homeschooled and we didn’t have a home church, giving me no opportunities to make friends. I was living in a tiny apartment, spending all of my time with the people who I felt had hurt me so deeply. I was alone and these feelings of loneliness and hopelessness grew and grew over several months, until one night when they snapped.
I remember the yelling from my living room behind me as I ran into my bedroom after doing something I shouldn’t have. I remember the feeling of worthlessness and desperation as I looked around the room, trying to find something to take the pain away. I remember everything in the universe stopping as my eyes rested on those blue handled scissors standing in my pencil cup. And I remember the euphoric feeling of doing what I knew was wrong and pressing the blade against my skin. That was the moment that my life changed forever. I couldn’t take it back, and at the time I didn’t want to. It was the greatest feeling I had ever experienced. Until it wasn’t.
After that, the shame kicked in. What had I done? I couldn’t believe what had just taken place in that tiny bedroom. I was terrified of myself. What kind of person mutilated themselves like that? I didn’t understand what had just happened to me and I didn’t know where to turn.
At this point in time, we had finally been visiting a church for a good while and we all knew we would stay there and join. I had met a girl a few years older than me who I knew struggled in similar ways as I did, so the next time I was at church I went to talk to her. We went into a room, I told her what had happened, and her face went white. She immediately grabbed my arms, searching for the wounds. When I told her they were on my stomach, her head dropped. I remember far too vividly her face buried in her lap, her arms stretched all the way out still attached to my wrists, and her whole body shaking. She knew what I was going through, and the reality finally hit me of what I had done.
A few days later my parents found out and my journey to recovery began. It took many, many years. All it took was that one time for me to be hooked. It only took once to become completely addicted. And it only took once to change the trajectory of my life forever.
Before I get any messages or comments about this, no, I am not currently cutting and I never want to again. Through the strength of God, I have overcome this in my life and will continue to fight the urges for as long as I live. But there are far too many young men and women in this world who don’t get the help that I did, and they need to hear from more people like me how real hope is. This piece is the beginning of a series on my story of self harm, and I cannot wait to share the story of my recovery with all of you.