I wanted to share this piece I wrote for MorethanSkinDeep. But before that, as a side note, I just got a notification that I now have 60 followers on this blog - and I am blown away. I want to thank each of you for all of your support and for continuing to read what I send out there to the web-iverse. UPDATE 2016: MoreThanSkinDeep is no longer live but you can read my full article below.
I don’t often write about my struggles with self-injury. To be honest, it’s not something I’m comfortable doing. Or at least it’s not what I am most comfortable doing.
Four years ago when I entered into recovery for my eating disorder, writing was how I “came out” to friends and family about my struggles. And I’ve been writing about eating disorder recovery ever since.
Four years ago I also was struggling with self-injury. I didn’t talk about that, though.
There is a stigma around eating disorders, yes, but I do feel those walls are being broken down rapidly. However, self-injury still remains something that for the most part is meant to be kept “under the rug.”
Until the few like Renee Yohe (To Write Love on Her Arms) and Demi Lovato finally spoke out, I felt confined to my secrecy – as though it was less of a choice and more a requirement. People don’t want to hear about you cutting or scratching at yourself – those are dark, dirty things that should never be brought into the light.
And that’s the problem – when something is kept in the darkness it has power. Until it is exposed to it’s greatest threat – light – a secret holds power over all who keep it. So let’s shine some light on this sucker, shall we?
My name is Lauren Bersaglio and I struggled with self-injury.
It started when I was in high school and it came and went throughout the duration of my eating disorder. Different things would trigger it: break-ups, stressful life events, tragedy. It was how I coped, how I dealt with those feelings that were just too dark, too deep, and too painful to actual feel internally – and yet they needed to come out – so I forced myself to feel them externally instead.
Though I wasn’t a consistent cutter, I do still consider myself to have “self-harmed” consistently throughout my teens and early twenties. See, there are many ways we self-injure, and not all are as obvious as others.
Here are some of the ways I would numb (or force myself to feel – depending on how you look at it):
And yes, even through the relationships I chose.
For some of these things, I have scars on the outside – for all of them I hold scars on the inside.
But my scars do not define me. However, they are a part of me. And not even a part of me that I am ashamed of. See, my scars tell stories, and each of these stories – though some at times I’d sooner forget – like every other element of my 25 years, piece together to create me. Beautiful, flawed, wonderful me.
And I’m not saying this about myself to brag or to come across as prideful…but the truth is I am proud. I am proud of where I am because I know where I’ve been. And I know what it took to get here from there. And so for that I am proud. And yes, my scars represent this.
Self-injury is not something to be ashamed of. It is something serious, and something that needs to be dealt with (and can be dealt with); but it’s not something to be ashamed of.
You may be wondering what the point is behind what I’m writing here – and that is valid, because this isn’t my most “straightforward” piece, so I’ll tell you straight up: The point behind what I’m writing here is the very fact that I am writing it. The point is to break through the secrecy.
Self-injury is not something I am as comfortable writing about – even through writing this piece I’ve come to realize just how uncomfortable I am. But that discomfort does not come from a place of truth or necessity or even self-preservation – it comes from a place of shame, of insecurity, and of fear. And as we all know, these things do not come from anywhere good.
And so I am writing this despite these things. I am writing this in order to stand up against them. I am writing this because if there is any hope for this darkness to finally cower away, it is found in the light.
So it’s time to start shining the light on it.
If you struggled are struggling with self-injury I want you to know I have been there, and I understand. I also want you to know healing is possible; but you have to start bringing it into the light. Tell someone. Tell a friend, a family member, a counselor – just tell someone. Someone who can help you, who will hold you accountable.
And then tell yourself you are beautiful and wonderful, complete with all your flaws. That you were created out of love, the truest, purest love that exists, and having been created of love, you deserve nothing less than love. Love from others, and love from yourself.
Don’t let the darkness, the shame, the hate, win. It doesn’t need to. Because love is so much bigger than it could ever hope to be.
If you’re going to grip on to anything, grip on to that.