Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing Love on My Arms

And it's hard to dance with the Devil on your back,
So shake him off.
                                          - "Shake it Off," Florence and the Machine

I haven't cut myself in 5 years and 7 months, but I am still a cutter at heart. There is a part of me that never goes away, and that part of me knows that cutting will provide relief from the pain, however temporary that relief might be. I have, over the past 5 years and 7 months, had many occasions of wanting to cut, but each and every time I have managed to resist. Sometimes I have managed on my own, and sometimes I have been driven to ask for help from friends. But always I have resisted.

Sometimes I look at the scars on my arms, scars for which I have only myself to blame, and I remember. I remember the way it felt on my skin, I remember the way I felt in the moment, and I remember the way I felt afterwards, when the realization hit me that I would now need yet another story to explain yet another cut. Mostly when I remember it, I remember hate.

I hated myself. I hated myself on a regular basis, and when the hatred got too intense, I hurt myself. I punished myself for being so... deserving of my own hatred. When I hurt myself, I hated myself for being the kind of person who would do that kind of thing. I hated my own weakness and vulnerability. And I hated that I didn't have the willpower to stop doing it. And when it was over, I hated myself for putting myself in this position, because once again, I would have to lie to my closest friends.

In every way possible, I hated myself.

So when I see those marks, I remember that hatred, and it is painful. Do I remember other things too? Of course. I see the scars and I remember my strength in overcoming my addiction to cutting. I remember that I have friends who love me and will always support me. I remember that I can change, and I am stronger than I think. But there is no denying that I also remember hating myself.

I don't want to remember that anymore. I don't want to look at a daily reminder of how unkind I really was to myself, because in a horrible irony, remembering how hateful I was makes me hate myself all over again. While I'd love to say otherwise, I do still have moments of hating myself, in many of the same ways I used to. I have days of looking in the mirror and hearing only the voice in my head that says, "You are hideous. You are so disgusting. Nobody actually likes you. People are only nice to you because they feel sorry for you. You will always be alone because you are completely worthless." Those are the moments where I realize that I will always be a cutter, because no matter how many times I resist it, the urge always comes back.

So if I already have those days when I hate myself, how much worse is it to see a scar and remember how hateful I've been in the past, to remember what an awful person I've been to myself, to remember that deep-seated hatred? I don't need a daily reminder of it.

I need a daily reminder of love.

It is time to cover the scars, the marks of hate, with a symbol of love. The scars will never disappear, but they can exist underneath the love, behind it, faint and forgotten in the wake of something better. I will look and remember that I loved myself enough to make something new - a phoenix from the ashes of my own destruction.

It is time to write love on my arms.


Mrs. Chili said...

One of my students has become a daughter of my heart. This post made me think of her, and the almost impossible struggles she's been through - and survived - this year. This is a beautiful affirmation of what YOU'VE survived, and of how you can take that pain and use it to learn how to love yourself. Thank you so much for writing this, and for sharing it with us. You ripple out farther than you may ever realize.

Rachel said...

Been wondering about you ... and what a way to create a little love for your self.

fjd said...

You're back! Yay!

Awesome tattoo.

Still Jill B said...

Love hearing from you, the redesign, and the tattoo. Loving you!

BetteJo said...

That's a wonderful way to remind yourself that loving yourself is where everything good begins. Congrats on the ink!

And Love the new design as well.

TJD said...

Love you, friend - more every day. Am beyond honored to have been with you when you got the ink, as well as all the other crazy adventures you've been living. You inspire me.

dancing dragon said...

I've read about To Write Love on Her Arms before (maybe from your blog..) but didn't make the connection when you showed me your tattoo at the show! Thanks for sharing.