TRIGGER WARNING! Please note that this post will, judging by my current mental state, be both raw and earthy and will deal with matters relating to self-harming. If you personally struggle with this issue and are feeling vulnerable, insecure or unsteady at this time perhaps it would be advisable to defer reading this post until another time.
“I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember, everything “
Trent Reznor or Johnny Cash fans will no doubt recognize the lyrics to Trent’s song “Hurt” (covered by Johnny Cash) and first released on the “Nine Inch Nails” album circa 1994.
It is a song that has caused some controversy and indeed there is some dispute about the song’s meaning and I for one am certainly not going to enter into that arena with an opinion. Firstly because I do not have one and secondly because I believe that song lyrics are very often less about what the original writer intended and more about what the songs actually says or means to the listener. Certainly that is true of this song for me right about now.
You see I find myself really struggling again and I am really struggling against the old compulsions.
“I hurt myself today. To see if I still feel. I focus on the pain. The only thing that’s real.”
Words that are playing over and over in my mind propelled by thoughts that echo and empower and seemingly enchant them.
“BUT THOSE WORDS ARE NOT TRUE!” The rational part of my mind shrieks out at me from somewhere within the chaos in a desperate attempt to protect and divert me. Indeed they are right because the very fact that I have this urge confirms the fact that I still feel – even if what I feel is the emptiness or the void. And anyway I HAVEN’T “hurt myself today”. Actually I am desperately trying to avoid doing so.
Am I focusing on the pain? Is that what I do when I get this way? I mean I know that I self-harm in two different and specific ways and that each way has its on purpose – that much I have worked out. But am I focusing on the pain? And even if I am, which pain? The pain that causes these compulsions or the pain that acting on these compulsions causes?
And is the pain the only thing that is real? I mean honestly, is it? What about love and hope and compassion and forgiveness and faith and …. the list goes on but are any of them really relevant when I am like this? Are any of them really strong enough when I am like this?
When my mental health is really bad – like now – and I am extremely cross or extremely frustrated at myself as a result of something I did that shouldn’t have done or that I didn’t do but should have done I hurt myself by burning. It is a punishment. Plain and simple. Nothing exceptional there.
Other times when my mental health is really bad – like now – and I feel so pent up, so frustrated, so lost, so entangled I don’t seek to punish myself I seek, I need, (or at very least have convinced myself that I need) some form of release instead. So I mark and I cut.
“The needle tears a hole. The old familiar sting. Try to kill it all away. But I remember, everything “
“NO IT DOESN’T!” Again my mind shrieks out at me. And it is right. It doesn’t tear a hole. For a hole just isn’t enough for me. Actually it tears a great trough (several troughs) – plows a nasty red line (several lines).
See I have progressed (if indeed that is what it is) from using blades and razors to using the needles from my blood glucose testing kit. They do less damage and besides I have removed all other sharp objects from my bedroom (since that seems to be the place where it happens the most.) It reduces the damage and thus the guilt and the subsequent (fall-out) pain experienced by the collateral damage that is my skin.
No it doesn’t tear a hole, no matter how familiar that sting is (and yes that sting is certainly familiar). And I don’t try to kill it all away. I just need or want (or whatever you want to call it) to release it all away. And I do remember everything, but here’s the deal I can cope with it all afterwards.
Like the first part of the song the last part is incredible and certainly I can relate to the words and indeed the sentiments that the words invoke in me…
I know the isolation. I live the guilt. I hide the canvass of evidence 0f my failure to cope that is now marked for all to see were I but to let them. I serve the sentence that I have given myself as a result of my action -even if those actions result from the actions of others who should have known better, done better, loved better.
I cannot in all honesty claim that the actions I take upon my body do not fulfill at least in part or at least for the “now” the purpose to which they are designed or intended. BUT should they? Can they ever fully? Are they the only way? Are they the best way?
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Again my mind shrieks out to me – echoed by the imagined voices of all those whom I know care for me and love me. So I will revert instead to my compulsion management techniques, my coping and diversion techniques. I will pray, flick elastic bands, chew on ice-cubes, listen to upbeat and soothing music, go for a walk or hide in my bed, or play a focus hungry game, write a poem or two.
Will I call for help? I seldom do as I hate the thought of being a burden. Will I succeed in defeating the compulsions? Who knows. I can’t lie to you and pretend to be all confident and up-beat.
As I write I find myself questioning if I should even publish this post and yet how many others out there are going through the same thing as me right now, or go through them so very often? How do I stay honest and open and be real about how I am feeling right now whilst at the same time acknowledge and share the facts that…
Actually the frequency of these compulsions has drastically reduced.
Actually the amount of damage I do to myself even when I do cave in is much less.
Actually there is hope even if so much of my mind wants me to belief there is no hope.
Perhaps I will publish this now and delete it tomorrow. I have to go, I need to walk, move about. I need to pray.