Musings Of The Past

Overcoming Self-Injury

Caution, possible triggers ahead


There came a time when I no longer tried to kill myself. Partially, I realized it was pointless. Whatever pain and brokenness I had needed solving while I was alive. Otherwise, I would just drag it with me to the afterlife. I was going to have to become whole at some point, running away wouldn’t work. I could never not be.

That last line made me angry for quite a while.

Still, the desire to destroy myself remained. I went onto a quest for the perfect self-mutilation. Something that would not kill me but would leave me with a permanent injury or defect. Perhaps causing injury to an internal organ, such as a kidney or my liver. Or perhaps a limb. Then, I felt sure, I’d be able to accept living my life. Only that would allow me to be happy.

It was a crazy time. I frightened myself with the compulsive thoughts. I tried to garrote my hand at the wrist. When that proved impossible, I tried other permutations. Finally, I focused my intentions within.

What followed was a series of what I hoped were nonfatal, but damage inflicting, poisonings. Each time I eagerly walked the line between a damaging dose and a total miss. Each time I knew that, probably, it would not work.

So, why am I dredging up a near decade old obsession?

I got my wish.

Not from anything I did, however. I developed drop foot. After several falls my Dr. prescribed a foot splint. It is big enough, noticeable enough. It makes getting up and down off the floor an ungraceful, but utterly possible proposition. It also makes chasing down toddlers a bit of a challenge. Still, I can still work.

It all blew up a bit a few months ago. I gave notice at my job. The job I had for 7 years. Although I had found an excellent new position, there was an 8 week wait between the jobs. Despite my best efforts, I felt myself falling into a depression. Just bad enough for me to give up most of my personal care practices. In short, I stopped my physical therapy.

Finally, I started the new job. On the second day there I tripped on a toy while holding one of my year-old twin charges. He wasn’t hurt. I had nothing beyond minor bruises to show for it. I did break a glass pane on the TV cabinet.

 It was scary, and embarrassing. The family seemed to understand. Still, it shook me up.

When I fell again a week later, I knew I had to see my Dr. I made an appointment, and he put me out of work and into physical therapy for 6 weeks. I was sure I would lose my practically perfect job.

Instead, they found a way and waited for me. The work was tough, but I got it done.

Two weeks ago I returned to work. The job is everything I hoped it would be. Two days a week. Ten hours a day. It’s not as tough as I feared.

 It makes me happy. Just as I projected.

Yes, my splint messes with my life, making it more complicated. The question I ponder is, did the splint, and its shout to the world that there is something wrong, make it possible to find and accept this job?

Was I right, that I needed something major wrong to be able to be happy?
I don’t really believe that. But, still, I must wonder. Somedays I wish I could just call a take back and take the splint off for good.

I don’t know why my mind fixated on needing an injury under my control. I don’t know why it drove me to that need to poison myself.

I just know there is a way out of that spot. I found it accidentally. When I was hospitalized for my final poisoning attempt, I was certain my therapist was disconnecting from me. Perhaps protecting herself from an ultimate demise. Losing my connection to her turned out to be the threat that saved me.

So, I just stopped. It was as sudden as that. It was a simple as that. But there is no way it was easy. For the first time in my adult life I admitted I needed someone to ground me.

That was when I gave up the fantasy that any of my old anchor people would ever love me the way I needed them to. Instead, I trusted in the care and support of my therapist.

 With fits and starts, I entered the real world as a real girl.

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