So I’ve written about how it all began. You’ve read about my first cut, and about how I struggled with self harm for many years. I’ve waited almost a full week for this post, because I didn’t know where to go with the ending of the story. I spent this time thinking, “Should I end where I became a Christian? Should I end where I finally decided to actively fight this problem? Should I end where I was finally done with it?” And then I came to the most important question, “Am I actually done with it?” The answer was very clear that I should write about all of those things.
I remember the day that I decided to work as hard as I could to fight this addiction to self harm. I probably remember it so vividly because it was the same day that I became a follower of Christ. I would like to spend an entire post on the story of how that happened for me, so I don’t want to reveal too much right now. What I can tell you, however, is that I was finally convinced at age 14, a little over a year after I started cutting, that I had a problem and I needed somebody to save me from it. I became a Christian right before entering into high school. I gave my life to Christ on June 10th, 2011. I remember crying out to God and telling him that I wanted so badly to be done with cutting. I remember sitting on the bus ride home from summer camp the next day, talking to a mentor of mine about how I wanted to get over this. I remember getting home and throwing out everything I had ever used to cut, and thinking that I was good to go and would never cut again.
That, however, was not the case. A week later I cut again. This time, using the point of a mechanical pencil. This was also the worst cut I ever had, becoming infected and leaving a scar that is still the most visible one I have and is showing no signs of going away any time soon. I was devastated. I couldn’t even go longer than a week without it. I felt so weak for giving in so easily and so stupid for thinking that I could ever stop myself. I cut a few more times, found my will to fight it again a few days later, and then went a good few months before cutting again, starting the cycle all over. That was my life. That became all I knew. I would somehow muster up false confidence in myself and in my own ability to quit and try to make that alone work.
When I came to college in 2014, I was on a new kick of trying to quit. I even thought that I had succeeded, as I hadn’t cut in about 8 or 9 months. I was so pleased with myself and ready to take on a new chapter of my life, completely cut free. But in case you hadn’t noticed a pattern here, things did not go as I had planned. I started to spiral about two months in to my college experience. I experienced not only one, but two break ups within a month of each other. They hit me harder than they should have, which was mostly based around the circumstances under which they occurred. I went crazy. I cut. I cut more deeply and more often than I ever had in my life. I made comments to some friends hinting at suicide, and one night I even had officers from the school’s police department in my dorm room, contemplating whether or not they should admit me into the hospital. Things were bad. I wasn’t quite sure that I would be able to make it past that point. I was convinced there was nothing more for me, and that I was going to go down in history as a cautionary tale for people to tell others struggling with self harm to make them stop. I was ready to give up.
But then, God.
Nothing after that point should have turned out the way that it did. My roommates should not have shown me the love and compassion that they did. I should not have been allowed to stay at this school, especially in my degree program. I shouldn’t have had people notice my cuts and ask me about them, checking on me constantly to see if I was okay. And above all, I definitely should not have been loved and forgiven by God so easily. But God allowed all of those things anyway. I don’t have a revelation moment for you to read about. There was not one moment in time in which I miraculously stopped and everything clicked. It took a lot of time. Over time, God taught me about the heart behind the healing. The very last time I cut was in February of 2015. I quit and have had no desire to harm myself ever since that day. And it isn’t because of my strength or any sort of resolve that I have. What God taught me and what I want everybody else struggling with self harm to know is that it isn’t about your strength. Therapy can never make you strong enough. No amount of medication can ever give you the strength to be done with it completely. Those things can help, and I am a STRONG advocate of them. But the thing that changes the very core of you, the thing that actually gives you freedom, is trusting in God’s strength above your own. It’s trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of every single believer that keeps the need for cutting at bay. We can do absolutely nothing apart from Christ. The reason I struggled for so long is that I thought I had to figure out a way inside myself to stop so I could please God. But what I finally realized is that what pleases him most is our understanding of our need for him and our allowing him to change us and make us like him.
So, as I end my story, I want anybody out there struggling to know that there is hope. There is a way out of this pit that you are in. Get help. Message or email me. Go to a therapist. See a psychiatrist. Talk to a pastor. Do something! Trust in God above everything else. And know that you do not have to be good enough, because there is already a God who is.
“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” -Romans 8:3