“an it harm none, do what you will.” i love this; the wiccan rede is so simple and logical.
the belief expressed in those few words is a common one, found in most faiths and philosophies. don’t let your actions cause harm. it’s elegantly practical. i wonder why it’s such a struggle to apply this rule to ourselves?
i have done things to myself that are unbelievable. i’ve caused serious harm to myself with my actions. i would be horrified to find others engaging in the kinds of behaviours i’ve executed. they were miserable, horrible, harmful, soul-destroying actions. no one should do them, except that i did; harming myself with my actions makes up most of my history.
i starved myself. i forced myself to vomit up food. i cut myself in a variety of ways, including self-mutilation of my face. i lied. i stole things. i hated myself for doing it, not that the self-hatred helped me stop. i considered myself a failure because i couldn’t get the behaviours under my control. i shamed myself regularly to try and get myself onto a better path.
never once did i think to apply “harm it none” to myself. i periodically considered the potential physical side-effects of my behaviours but i didn’t see that the rules i had for treating others could also be applied to myself.
never once did i feel pity or compassion for myself. my feelings towards myself were more negative. never once did i consider that attacking myself with behaviours and thoughts was living in a way that was incongruent with my fundamental beliefs.
eating disorders and cutting disorders are not unlike abusive relationships. i was living with someone who hurt me, over and over, every day, on multiple levels. i was with someone who was abusing me mentally, physically, and emotionally. i had the “do what you will” part down fine it’s just that what i willed was doing harm.
the idea that “harm none” includes me, therefore, is a radical departure. i’m good at not harming others. i’m polite. i’m kind. i give to charities. i open doors. i give up my seat on the bus. i donate my time. i catch and release spiders. i harm none all over the place except where it matters most.
it seems so much easier to be nice to others. the guilt gene kicks in when i’m unkind or harmful externally. treating myself well, though, without self-harm? that’s harder. it requires planning, and setting aside time, and re-affirming to myself over and over that i’m worth the consideration. it’s reminding myself that it’s okay to choose not to cause myself harm. not because i’m special, but because i am and the rule says that’s how it should go.
photo cr (rede): blue star owl