Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Pain that Feels Good

There was a time in my life when I made a big mistake. I’d had a really rough day, and pretty much everything that could go wrong did. That morning, I woke up and I could tell that it was going to be a day when I was going to have challenges in my emotions. I got on it, and I started doing saying some positive things and doing everything I was supposed to be doing.

Yeah, it didn’t help this time.

Before I even got out the door for school, I had already cried once, and in my first class, I was really struggling to keep from all out bawling in the middle of class. I texted my mom and I told her that I needed to do something, because I was just all out frustrated.

The end of the day came, and I was feeling a little bit better. Usually being with my friends is so helpful—I’m generally the happiest when I’m with my friends. Unfortunately, after I got out of school, things got bad.

I’m not going to chronicle everything that happened, but let’s just say that 11:45 rolled around and I was tired, beyond sad, and absolutely livid about everything going on. I was so frustrated with myself. Why couldn’t I get over this? Why couldn’t I just snap out of this and be happy? Honestly, it’s been a long time since I cried so hard. I called one of my friends, and she prayed for me and gave me some encouragement. I hung up, thinking I was going to be okay. I thought I could probably cry myself to sleep and then wake up and just try to start over.

So I laid in my bed for about ten minutes, doing nothing but crying and letting angry energy boil in me. Finally, I flipped the covers off and did something I thought I would never ever do.

 I grabbed a pair of scissors and dragged the blade across my arm and leg.

I didn’t draw blood, but I did make red marks that took a couple days to fade away. After a few marks, I dropped the scissors and collapsed back onto my hardwood floor and just cried. I don’t really remember what happened after that. I think I must have crawled back into bed and eventually fallen asleep.

This is such a scary post to write. Reality is scary, and I feel like it’s something we try to avoid talking about. Self-harm is a scary and misunderstood topic, and it’s something that so many people battle alone. I’ve been blessed to have protection that’s kept me from having a serious and addicting problem, but many, many people are not that fortunate.

That night, in that moment, I just didn’t know what to do with my feelings and all the negative energy. I had dwelled on self-harm too long in the past, and at my weakest, I caved. I had anger and pain surging through me, and crying wasn’t enough to let them all out. Hurting myself did have some satisfaction. It was a physical release of the frustration inside me.

Obviously, this is not a healthy way of releasing feelings. I talked with my therapist the next day, and she asked me what I could do next time I felt like this. All of my usual coping methods would not have worked in this situation, and I honestly had no idea what a good alternative would be. She gave me some ideas, and that’s why I’m writing this post. To give some better alternatives for when you absolutely don’t see a way out. Hopefully, in the moment, you’ll have some better ideas in your mind.

I needed to get out some negative energy, and I made a lot of mistakes. If I could do that night all over again, here’s what I would do. I would go and run on our treadmill at the top speed or do fifty jumping jacks or fifty push-ups. I’d do something to get out the energy, and give me a chance to think before I did anything irrational. Then I’d find someone to talk to. That night, my parents were dealing with some things outside of home, and honestly I was so scared to tell them what I was thinking of doing. I didn’t want to hurt them. If I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my parents, I would call the friend I called earlier. In the moment, I didn’t think of calling her. If I couldn’t talk to a friend or parents, I’d call the kid’s help line (1-800-668-6868). It’s confidential, and these people are here to help you. The help line might even be my first thing I call.

I’ve already said it, but it bears repeating. Self-harm is a scary subject, and I’m in no means an expert in it. I’m speaking to an expert. I’d also encourage you to find someone who has some experience in this area. There are always people there to help you.

And you are never beyond help.

I feel like this post would not be complete without talking about another Source of help. That night, my friend prayed with me over the phone, and I also know I had some other friends who were praying for me. I was crying out to God, but honestly, I felt like He was so far away.

But looking back, I know He was there. I was pushing hard enough with the scissors that I should have drawn blood. I was getting frustrated because there was no blood. He has been with me before, and I know He has stopped me from cutting.

I’d like to take a different angle on this though, beyond the common “God is always there for us.” The big part of Christianity and my salvation is Jesus coming to die for the sin of all of mankind. He died a horrific death. He was beaten by soldiers, and then whipped thirty-nine times. The reason that they did thirty-nine lashes was because a fortieth one would physically rip the person apart. Then he was nailed naked to a cross.

This is the Son of God. He willingly submitted to this. He knows that it is like to be broken to pay for screw ups. He knows what it is like to experience pain in order to heal pain. He understands physical, mental, and spiritual pain, because He lived through it to a greater degree than any of us ever will.

He didn’t die on that cross for the perfect people. He died for the people who were in a mess that they couldn’t get out of. Before Jesus, there was no such thing as “perfect Christians,” and there still isn’t. He took the pain so that we wouldn’t have to. He took the pain so that we wouldn’t have to hurt ourselves in an attempt to make ourselves feel better.

He longs that we run to Him and release our struggles. He wants to carry our pain and give up our feeble efforts to deal with it on our own. Nothing we do could ever scare Him. Nothing is ever too horrible for Him to handle.

When we do mess up, He doesn’t leave. He still waits for us to come to him so He can hold us and make us new again.

 He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.                                                                                         1 Peter 2:24-25 (The Message)

If you are struggling in this area, please do not think that you need to suffer alone. Please find someone to talk to. And most importantly, know that your struggle does not define you. You are so much more than that.

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