This past Monday I was sitting in my therapist’s office when I told her about my thoughts about cutting.
Cutting is a self-harming behavior that consists of taking sharp objects and cutting yourself just to feel relief. I know people who have done it in their yester years, yet sought help to overcome it. I have seen characters on shows like 7th Heaven and ER slice their skin with razor blazes and knifes, wondering why anyone would do something so painful to experience relief. Yet here I was, sitting across from my therapist and tearfully confessing that I have ruminated about taking a kitchen knife and sliding it across my forearm. And here’s the ass kicker—
I have NEVER cut in the past.
Granted, I have harmed myself in other ways, but never to the point where I had to conceal wounds caused by a razor blade. In fact, I did not know where these thoughts were even coming from. All I know is that they invaded my head the week prior and I was depressed, empty and wondering what the hell was going to happen next. So while I was telling my therapist what was going on, I was also yawning every five minutes. In addition, my stomach sat empty, yet filled with cramps. Here’s the story:
I didn’t sleep very well the night before and basically played the “Get Up/Hit Snooze/Go Back to Bed” game for about 45 minutes. By the time I actually got up, I realized I should have been parking my car in the UB South parking lot already. So I just got up, took a shower and left the house–without eating. While I was sitting in class, I was able to concentrate but I was pretty much ready to bounce. When class ended, I become more drained and hungry. I am the 99% after all, which means I have no money so I couldn’t buy anything to eat and I was so worried about being in class on time I didn’t think to grab something. That was when I started hearing the Voice in my head telling me the following:
“Indiana’s right–you’ll never be well-rounded and mature like his girlfriend. No wonder he doesn’t love you.”
“You’re a crazy bitch.”
“Nobody likes you here.”
And my personal favorite: “Maybe you should cut yourself. It’ll make you feel better.”
When I told my therapist all of this, she was not surprised. “When you are not eating and sleeping, you become more vulnerable to your negative thinking. You have to take care of yourself. Otherwise, how are you able to defend yourself against your triggers?”
Despite my being brain being numb, I realized my therapist was right. In fact, I knew she was right. Self-care is essential for trauma survivors in order for us to be connected to our minds, bodies and spirits. Without that connection, we are lost. Psychic Sonia Choquette explains it best: …”if your body is neglected, exhausted, or abused, it becomes energetically toxic…Since your body is the temple for your spirit, it’s important to use common sense in caring for it; otherwise, you’ll become lost, confused, and depressed” (p. 15).
This basically describes my experience until this recent moment of clarity. In fact, numerous survivors stopped taking care of ourselves for various reasons, one them believing our bodies were not ours. They [meaning our bodies] were used for sexual purposes for so long that we just assumed that that was our body’s primary function. We used mind-altering substances, food and other forms of escapism to destroy ourselves simply because we believed what our perpetrators said about us. Until this incident, I had no connection to my own body. The disconnection was so profound that there were times I wouldn’t feel my own heartbeat! I would exercise, but quit after a month or so because I wasn’t losing weight quick enough. I wasn’t even doing it for myself, but to impress that potential soulmate I needed to be thin for. I ate junk food on the regular (if I ate at all) and would not even turn off my lap top until 2-3:00 in the morning. On the spiritual level, I would pray but I would put work first and not attend AA meetings as much as I used to. And what occurred this past Monday in not the first time I’ve done this to myself and I’ve been warned time and again to not walk out of the house without food and water in my system. My older friends would literally worry about me, saying that what I was doing wasn’t healthy. I would brush them off, using the “Broke College Student” excuse. My antics finally caught up with me.
With my spiritual, mental and emotional defenses down, it’s no wonder I’m on the verge of mutilating my body and lashing out at others. When I am not taking care of myself, this shit happens.
So I decided to change instead of taking chances and making excuses. I began working out in the morning by walking and using the SparkPeople.com website. I prepared healthy meals the night before so I can now eat properly and not starve during the day. I even created affirmations like this one:
and taped them to my door so when I open my eyes in the morning and close them at night, I have those constant reminders that I’m worth the fight. I know this is a “one-at-a-time” process, so patience with myself is paramount. Williams and Poijula (2002) writes: “The body of the trauma survivor–your body–needs soothing and care…normalize…your body…so that you can return to some level of calm and order, or homeostasis” (p. 79). I know the Voice will rear Its head somewhere along the way, but with Creator, my support system, and perseverance, I know I’ll be prepared.
In other words, I refuse to die.
Choquette, S. (2004). Trust Your Vibes: Secret Tools for Six-Sensory Living. United States of America: Hay House, Inc.
Poijula, S. & Williams, M.B. (2002). The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc