I want to give my testimony. I can’t do it all in one sitting so this will become a series of posts, written in the best order I can make them. Many of these stories overlap and intertwine, and I will do my best to make it as cohesive as possible. Please be patient with me. It makes me a little nervous to lay myself out there so openly, but I understand and have experienced firsthand the power of a testimony. May the scars I bare and the story I carry bless you.
I started cutting my eight grade year.
I don’t remember precisely what started it, but I do remember that one of my best friends at the time began cutting and shortly afterwards, I started as well.
Up until that point I had no real traumatic events occur in my life: there was no molestation, no physical abuse, no negligence, no violence.
Honestly, I believe I was under attack. It was during my eighth grade year that I decided that I wanted to enroll in a Christian high school instead of going to a public high school like all of my friends. I had also just accepted Christ into my life and was baptized the summer before my eighth-grade year. Slowly but surely, I was allowing the Lord to infiltrate my heart and Satan knew it. He fought back.
Cutting soon manifested itself, not as a form of “coping” or “control” (as many who cut liken it to), as punishment. If I made a mistake or felt stupid in any way, I would cut. If I was sad or lonely, I would cut. If something bad happened to the people around me, I would cut. I soon began to absolutely hate myself; I wanted to punish myself for being such a loathsome creature. It was absolutely demonic.
If I found myself in a situation where I wanted to cut and I didn’t have any of the right “tools”, I would use just about anything around me: broken hand mirrors, scissors, plastic knives (they do a lot of damage if you’re twisted enough), etc. I can even remember being stuck in a public bathroom, rubbing my wrists against the sharp plastic edge of the paper towel dispenser. Like I said: it was positively demonic.
Once or twice, my mother caught me. She never actually saw me hurt myself (I think that would have pushed her over the edge completely), but she did see my cut-up wrists. The first time she saw it, she grabbed my wrist (I can remember it like it was yesterday), and said, “If I see this again, we are going to send you to a mental hospital!” I was petrified.
That same week, she and my father tried to sit me down to talk about my cutting habit. I hardly said a word. They asked why, but I had no answers to give them. After all, what kind of fourteen-year-old girl has the mental clarity to understand why she hates herself? To this day, I have yet to fully understand it. The only thing I knew was that I needed to cut; I deserved the hurt.
This habit continued all the way through my high school career and ended shortly before graduation. I can’t tell you how or why I stopped; I simply did. I believe it had much to do with the fact that, at the time that I quit cutting, I had picked up another self-harming habit that ended up messing me up even worse than the cutting (but that’s another post for another time). I went from the frying pan to the fire.
My cutting never got “out of hand” (which is an ironic thing to say about a person who harms themselves) as in, I never cut so deep that I needed stitches. In fact, I hardly have any scars at all. However, the mental and emotional trauma was something I had to cope with long after my high school graduation.
The hate and anger I channeled through my cutting ended up affecting almost every relationship I had in my life. I was impatient, angry, and just generally a frightening person. Ask anyone from high school: nobody wanted to get me mad. I was like a bomb, just waiting for someone to set me off. My cutting made me callous (oh look, a pun!) and hardened to all my other emotions. I chose to walk around with a “tough girl” exterior because I was absolutely falling apart on the inside. I had so much hate in me that I could hardly function at times. It was as if a black cloud followed me wherever I went. To this day I still struggle with letting my guard down. I have to make the conscious effort to not balk at “soft” emotions such as love, joy, or tenderness. I’m still learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable with others.
But are you ready for the beautiful part? My story doesn’t end there. The Lord never stopped pursuing me, and even while I was in the throes of hate, anger, sorrow and despair, He never stopped singing loves songs to my broken heart. Even while I clasped my hands over my ears to reject His love, He never stopped singing. Hallelujah! What a Love, what a mercy, what a grace.