Monday, July 4, 2011

One year ago, Independence Day

[*Warning -- this might be disturbing to people who are sensitive about the topic of self-injury/self-harm. Proceed at your own discretion. However, this is a positive blog post, a reflection of how much I have grown and become stronger in the past year.]

One year ago exactly, I had a mental and emotional breakdown and I took a box cutter to my left arm (since I am right-handed) and cut it open in several places. I bled a lot, but the wounds did not even come close to being life-threatening.

Contrary to what you might think, it was not a suicide attempt. This might be something that only other self-harmers understand. It was an act of pain and suffering, and a desperate act for sure, but I was not trying to kill myself.

When I was calmer, I cleaned up the wounds. Most were rather superficial cuts, although one was a bit deeper. I ended up having an allergic reaction to the topical cream I applied to it, and had to go to a walk-in medical facility a couple days later (where they administered a tetanus shot and yet another variety of topical cream). None of the cuts required stitches. I kept my arm wrapped up in bandages and long sleeves. I made up excuses about what happened to me, since the gauze wrapping my entire forearm was something I couldn't hide. I wore long sleeves for a long time after the wound had healed.

To make a long story short, it is one year later exactly since I opened my flesh. Most of the scars are barely visible now, except for an inch-long one which is pink and raised. It is fairly noticeable, and I used to be self-conscious about it for a long time, especially around family members who might become alarmed. Gradually, I cared less and less who noticed the scar, and I wear short sleeves without really caring who sees it anymore.

One year ago, I would never have guessed that I would feel as strong and powerful and self-confident as I do right now as I sit here typing this. I have grown and changed and learned so much about myself in the past year. In just the past few months alone, I have gained so much self-confidence and strength that my one-year-ago-self would barely recognize me today.

I don't feel the need to hide my scar anymore. Eventually yes, my family members will see it. I don't want to have to hide it anymore, or make excuses for it. My scar has become, to me, a symbol of my transformation. It has become a visible reminder of the fact that I survived the ordeals and trials and pain and trauma that, in the end, made me a much stronger person.

When you see my scar, don't feel bad for me; don't pity me or worry about me. I'm fine. Just look at me, and you'll see and feel and sense how much more comfortable I am to be existing in my own skin and my own world. I've got my mojo back, so to speak.

Sure, I still have my despairing moments; I'm still a highly sensitive, emotional creature, and circumstances in life affect me deeply, and that is one thing that will never change about me. But I bounce back more easily now. I have learned to rely on the support of friends and loved ones (I fucking love you all, by the way, and I can't thank you all for your love and patience).

Perhaps even more importantly, I have found a lot of my own inner strength. For the first time in a long time, I feel love for myself. I like myself, I love myself. I have gained so much independence from the self-loathing and shame that held me captive for the majority of my adult life.

This pink mark on my arm is not a scar, it's proof that I not only survived, but I am fucking thriving. Or starting to, at the very least. It's a fucking badge of honor and I am proud of it.

July 4th, 2010


Intersex Roadshow said...

Hugs! Glad to hear of your transformative year.

me said...

Thank you for being so brave to write this. I know how much it will help others that are in the same place you were a year ago. Be really proud of how far you've come! {{HUGS}}