This post is about stopping self harm, so it does make mention of it. There are no details, and what I have to say may even be helpful, but please be safe.
I’ve been thinking lately about ‘last times’.
In my life, I have had more than my fair share of ‘last times’. When my self harm had moved from coping strategy to (extremely) bad habit, I tried to stop. A lot. I’d tell myself that this would be the ‘last time’. That I was never, ever, ever going to hurt myself, ever again. Two days later, the resolve would be gone, and I would be craving the feeling of release that it gave me. So I’d hurt myself. And feel even more of a failure than I had to begin with.
It wasn’t until I changed the way I thought about stopping, that I managed to actually stop habitually self harming. From idea of the ‘last time’, I moved away, and began thinking more in terms of ‘not now’. Eventually I could think ‘not today’. And if you can get through one day, why not another? It was always a struggle, and the feeling never went away completely, but I have managed to change the way I behave when it comes to self harm.
Unfortunately, I still have some times when I find it incredibly difficult not to hurt myself, when I walk a very fine line between releasing emotion and being destructive. When I have to go back to ‘not now’ for a while. But I think the good thing for me is, by thinking ‘not now’, and ‘not today’, I don’t have a last time, not as such. So there’s no pressure. It’s an ongoing project. I’m an ongoing project. We all are.
Talking. I’ve resisted it for a long time. In the past, I’ve begun, and then lost my nerve – lost myself – and been unwilling to continue. I was going to say…unable, but that doesn’t feel true. I think the distinction is important. In the past I have made the conscious decision to stop talking, or, more often, not to begin at all. The longer I didn’t talk, the more it felt like the right thing. If I didn’t talk, no one knew what a terrible person I was. If I didn’t talk, the only person who had to hurt was me. And, in the end, wasn’t that what I deserved?
But it wasn’t. Very slowly, tentatively, I’m coming round to that idea. The idea that I can talk, and that I don’t have to feel bad or guilty for doing it. I don’t need to punish myself anymore.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell my small self that it would be a good idea to talk. My 18 and 20 year old selves could have done with similar advice. I wish I’d been braver. Shouted louder. Made sure I was heard. Because I really needed to be. But the reality of the situation is that I can’t change what happened in the past. I can, however, change what’s happening right now. And I can give myself the chance of a different future.
Talking about painful things is, well, painful. Mentally…and physically. The act of remembering, of telling, of being honest, losing any detachment I’ve managed to maintain all these years, scares me to the point of utter panic. However, I am assured that talking is what I need to do in order to get better. So I’m doing my best to do that.