Please don’t self-harm – letter to my younger self

Once more I see you facing the temptation to cut. The promise of relief, of control, is within your reach; a knife is all you need. Just one cut, you tell yourself. After all, you have done it before and were not addicted; what harm could one more cut do? Indeed, there will be a scar, but you can create a perfectly plausible excuse, and will not the addition of yet another scar strengthen your resolve? Cutting will not bring release, as you well know from previous experience, but you will feel in control in the midst of uncontrollable emotions. In that very moment you are convinced that nothing will provide release, yet the simple act of trying to do something that might help is a short term therapy in itself. You say ‘Will not cutting extinguish the dark flame of feeling alone and helpless, if I gain a sense of control?’

These are deceptions. Cutting symbols  might not be addictive and may have deep meaning, but has this satisfied you? First one small scar, then another, and still a third. Why must a scar remind you of your past, of suffering, of who you once were? Once one ‘artistic’ scar is complete, it is merely a matter of time before the desire for a new scar materialises. If these scars truly had deep meaning, would you still continue to mutilate yourself? For that is what you are doing.

Harder still is the impulse to cut. Founded on overwhelming, painful memories, these impulses are far more difficult to resist than a carefully planned scar with meaning. Your scars from impulsive cutting are less obvious but far more dangerous; they are addictive. Is addiction worth the temporary relief and control? You have overcome the impulses previously, yet are you able to do so again? With each cut comes a stronger impulse, each one more difficult to resist than the last. Even now, despite no new scars, the urge to self-harm is as strong as the moments following your first impulsive cuts. You are in dangerous territory, fully aware that you might yield. I urge you, finish this fight while you still have the strength.

 

Self-harm might seem enticing and even makes people feel better initially, but in the long run it brings pain and regret. Permanent scars are either hidden or explained away with excuses, but I found living this lie to be exhausting. Now that I have been free for 6 months, I am glad I held fast to my resolution that I would never self-harm again. Initially it was very difficult and from time to time the feelings resurface, but I have become stronger with God’s help and encouragement from friends. Hiding it destroyed me on the inside; telling someone, although difficult at first, was the first step on the path to healing and recovery.

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