Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trigger points.

A friend of mine is going through a situation with her daughter.  She's found out that her daughter has been cutting herself and like any parent caught totally off-guard, she's finding her way through the situation to a resolution that keeps her daughter safe from harm. 

As with a couple of previous incidents I've blogged about, things like this can be huge triggers for me.  It's like I'm instantly transported to when I felt those things and since they've been largely unresolved, it's an opportunity to talk myself through them.  Which isn't really the most pleasant process and is also one in which I have to remain vigilant in keeping them separate.  My friend's daughter is not me.  I'm not her.  All I can do is process out the feelings that are popping up from it and take it as a gift.  A chance to work through things and not let them sit inside where they can gain more control.

I'll start with copying what I wrote as a message to my friend:

I started cutting for attention. Flat out. I was overwhelmed on the inside and felt like I had no one who would believe/understand how bad things felt. I was a perfect student, child, friend - all on the outside and it can take immense toll to try keep all those plates spinning in the air. At the time I remember thinking, "If people see physical injuries on me, they'll ask me what's wrong and that will be great." I'd use a razor and would cut just enough so that if someone asked me if I did it to myself I could claim "a cat scratched me" or something else ridiculous as the cause. They weren't deep ugly scarring gashes in the stereotypical way we tend to picture cutting. There was too much at stake for me to be discovered as a "cutter" due to the stigma of who traditionally cuts and why.

I do know that I was desperate for someone to see into what else was going on, but since I didn't have the voice to do so, I took another avenue to get that concern/support. No one ever would have guessed that though. Ever. On the outside I looked perfectly well adjusted.

I guess I just feel like *something* made her go through with it not once, or even twice, but at least three times. Because of my bias from personal experience I can tell you the very last thing that would have helped me was to feel like I was in any way being punished for the cutting.
None of that part of my life is something I'm proud of as it was a really challenging, dark time for me.  So much work went into me trying to be the perfect everything.  All I wanted for for someone to say, "Hey, it's OK.  You don't need to be perfect at everything all the time."  But, as we know, that's not validation I received.  A lot of people talk about cutting as a release of pent up emotions.  I'm not sure it was ever that for me.  At least during that time it was more about wanting people to see the emotional wounds I was walking around with.  And the only way they could was through physical injury.  And I liked people showing concern for me.  It was something I wasn't getting enough of or at least didn't feel I was getting enough of.
It's strange, really.  In the grand scheme of all the baggage I have from that "era" of my ED, the cutting is the hardest for me to acknowledge.  I think it's because it feels like, in retrospect, that I was deceiving people.  I wasn't really - I was just replacing one "injury" with another so that it would make more sense to those I sought comfort from.  But because it was the most outward of ED behaviors, I have a harder time with it. 
I have a small scar on my right calf.  A battle wound.  It was my last cut, the deepest.  And it reminds me.  Reminds me that while you can wear your damage on the outside, it changes nothing on the inside if you're not able to embrace it and let it go.

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