Cutting is a form of self-injury. The Mayo Clinic defines self-injury as: “the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It’s typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, self-injury is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.”
I’ve never cut myself on purpose, but when I’m really honest about it, I’m self-destructive with my skin. I’m not sure if other people would consider it cutting, but I do damage my arms, my face, and my legs. I don’t like the feel of the bumps under my skin. I have scars from all of these “bump removals.”
I suppose doing things to one’s body, whether it’s eating only 100 calories per day, as Gabi did, or cutting the skin with a knife or with the fingers, is an attempt at feeling in control. It’s certainly a temporary distraction from uncomfortable or negative feelings.
When I kept staring at the blank screen before starting to write this post, I found myself clawing at a scab on my chest. It temporarily eased the frustration of not knowing what to write, worrying that no one will ever care about what I write, and fearing that I will never be a good writer.
I feel ashamed of the scars on my face. I’m almost 40 years old, but my face has more acne scars than when I was a teenager. I blame myself because I eat too much refined sugar. I imagine if I were a vegan yoga fanatic, my skin would be flawless.
I did go to a dermatologist once who prescribed a retinoid cream and a mild antibiotic. I used them for awhile, but they didn’t seem to help.
One of the reasons Gabi was hospitalized was because she noticed her five-year-old daughter was starting to make comments about thinking she was fat and wondering aloud how many calories were in a food she was considering eating. Gabi realized her daughter was picking up on her anxiety about her weight, and she felt like a horrible mother and wanted to commit suicide.
I know that if I want my daughter to have a healthy body image, I have to model it for her. I’m honestly not sure whether I can, but I realize I need to try. She’s only three years old, but she’s already into princesses. I imagine it won’t be long before I’m telling her she’s not allowed to go out of the house until she’s “properly dressed,” and she’s not allowed to wear makeup until she’s 18 (maybe 16).
Every stage of my kids’ childhoods feels like it gets harder. Some things get easier, but I keep finding new baggage of mine I need to unpack and toss.
I found these helpful tips of how to stop hurting myself. I’ve put it in my bookmarks bar in my browser. I’ll publish this post as my first step in “confiding in someone.” I’ll try to look at my skin and think of my daughter. I would never scratch up her skin, I don’t need to do it to mine.
Do you have unhealthy coping mechanisms that you’d like to stop doing or you’ve been able to stop doing?