Free at Last
Believe me, I’ve had my share of problems. For many years, I ignored them, trying to be strong; but I have learned that ignoring a problem often makes it worse.
In sixth grade, I was the new kid at school, and I was bullied to the point of physical violence. Kids circled me and took turns hitting me, punching me, kicking me, and spitting on me. But the chants as I walked down the hall were the cruelest: “Kill yourself.” “Suicide.” “You don’t deserve to live.” They voiced the thoughts I was already having.
I felt that if I told my parents, I would be putting an extra burden on them or admitting that I had failed. Instead, I covered my bruises and tried to ignore my feelings. I turned my back on God. The pain slowly turned to a numb feeling, which was even scarier. I was devoid of emotion, as if I were watching a movie about my life, totally detached from the world around me.
Then I learned about self-injury. I asked a friend how he was dealing with hardship in his life. He rolled up his sleeves and showed me the scars crisscrossing his arms. As I stared in shock, he described his feelings of numbness, just like mine, and said that cutting reminded him that if he could bleed, he must still be alive.
The first time I tried cutting myself, it hurt so bad I got sick from the pain; but later, I tried again. That time cutting sent a rush of energy to my chest; I knew that I was still breathing and able to feel. Once-a-week cutting turned into several times a week and eventually became a daily ritual. It was a way to purge my body of the disgust I felt about myself and to punish myself for being a failure.
For me, self-injury (SI) was like riding a roller coaster—anticipation, pain, giddiness, then the inevitable letdown. SI is also an addiction; after I’d done it for a while, I realized I couldn’t stop.
After months of cutting, I let a girl at school see my scars. She told a teacher, and my parents were notified. I came home to find my mom pacing the floor. She freaked out and called the mental hospital. I talked to a woman from the hospital, who said I was in average mental health and advised my mom to get me into counseling. She did, but I continued to cut whenever I could get away with it. I cut my upper arms and thighs where Mom wouldn’t see the scars. Then Mom began homeschooling me. Seventh grade passed; eighth grade passed. My only friend and I grew apart, which sent me into depression and more self-injury.
The summer before ninth grade, I went to a Christian camp. The thought of going scared me. I would be away from my parents in a strange place with unfamiliar kids and no access to my SI tools. Yet, during that week, I accepted Christ as my Savior. The counselors explained that in God’s eyes I was beautiful. When I hurt myself, I was hurting God. They helped me to see that God had never turned away from me but was waiting for me to walk back into God’s loving arms. They assured me that the only person who needed to bleed for me was Jesus. I talked to kids who had been involved in SI and realized that I wasn’t alone, that I didn’t have to deal with the pain all by myself.
With God’s help, I have been SI free for six years. And someday, I hope to start a program in my community so that those who struggle with bullying and SI do not have to face their pain alone.
If you’re cutting and think you’re completely alone in the world, know that you don’t have to face the pain on your own. Believe that God is always there for you, waiting for you to ask for help. Remember that Jesus bled so you don’t have to. And be sure to ask for help.
—from devozine (September/October 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.