trigger warning – self harm
I’m standing at a fork in the road and I’m paralyzed. It’s a pretty big fork, with plenty of places for me to play. I don’t play well with others a lot of the time so I’m here alone, which is unfortunate since the games I play when I’m by myself and feeling distressed generally involve some form of self-harm. This explains the half inch hole that I’ve dug in my chin that’s now infected.
The problem, one of the problems, is that I don’t know which way to go. I don’t know which way I want to go.
I’ve been here before, though not at this particular spot – I’m further down the road of recovery than I’ve been before and now, every step is terrifying. Every step takes me farther away from what I’ve known and even if what we know is damaging and horrible and soul-destroying, there is an appeal to the familiar.
I don’t know how to be when I’m not actively trying to destroy myself. Days have a lot of minutes. They used to be filled with thoughts of food and how fat I was, and how I needed to get closer to no flesh. The numbers on the scale needed to go down. The clothes needed to be bigger. When I wrapped a hand around my upper arm or thigh, the fingers needed to overlap, and overlap more each time I checked. Thinner was better. Thinner was everything.
I still think that way, but not as much. The longer I’m abstinent from throwing up, the more space shows up in the brain. This, unfortunately, leads to a bit of an existential crisis. Who am I and what is my purpose in life if I’m not trying to get thinner? What value can I bring to the table beside emaciation?
Every day is full of this distress and it’s exceptionally agitating. At times, I can’t bear to be in my skin. I can’t bear to be in this brain. Recovery is hard.
I’ve managed to stay the course on the eating, even when I’ve fallen off my meal plan, which I’ve done several times of late. I inspect my body in the mirror every morning, checking for bones, checking for flesh, but I’m still eating. I hate it, but I do it. The distress and discomfort have to come out somewhere though and I reverted back to cutting.
Through some horrible quirk of fate, my cutting obsession focuses on my face. I’ve done incredible damage. I have scars around my mouth and chin that look like I sliced open chunks of my face with a knife. My distorted smile is a constant reminder of the damage I’ve done. The scars twist my mouth out of its former alignment while at rest and the dead spots from nerve damage complete the look. I can no longer bear to have my photo taken. It’s too painful.
The current hole on my chin is half the size of my thumbnail. I can put the tip of my thumb into it and it disappears. It’s exquisitely painful and the infection is running; I can feel it bubbling away under the skin. It pushes its way into the surrounding tissue and causes Jay Leno-type swelling along the jaw. I’m back to wearing a bandage on my face everywhere I go, which makes me feel like a freak and a failure.
The irony is that once the sores are present, the only thing fix I can think of is cutting at them more to make them better. As if there is some perfect cut that will fix everything and make the sore magically disappear. I don’t believe in a genie god that grants wishes in the forms of prayers, yet when the sores are ascendant, I pray every night that I’ll wake up healed. It’s unfortunate that life doesn’t work that way.
What to do, what to do?
The plan today is to try and leave it be. To put on the antibiotic cream and leave it alone. Wash and replace the covering every four hours and not attack myself with scissors and snips. To not attack myself mentally for what I consider to be a massive failure on my part. To be as kind to myself as I would be to someone else who is hurting themselves in this way.
I wish I understood the impulse to destroy myself more. I wish I could stay in recovery mode without freaking out. I wish I could live in this life without feeling like it’s pointless, that I have nothing to offer. I hate the inside voice that is trying to destroy me and doing a pretty good job at times.
I will try and follow the advice I give to others instead. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle.