I do so love to hate myself

Every now and again I surprise myself with the stark recognition that I enjoy my self-hatred. I like being self-destructive. It feels like such a sick paradigm to be stuck in. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t like misery. I don’t enjoy emotional pain or my symptoms of PTSD. But I am so very attached to sabotaging and hurting myself.

If I harm myself, I am heard

Growing up, I was the compliant child. I was the good-natured, people pleasing entertainer of the family. I desperately sought to make sure everyone else was OK – it was my habit. This left me feeling unable to express my own needs, least of all after my parents found out my brother had been abusing me. So I continued the performance for the next twenty years.

That is, until my breakdown at the end of 2014. At that point I started to cut myself, increasingly seriously. I got drunk and disappeared. I plotted my suicide. And suddenly everyone I care about was listening. After all my years of silent suffering, I had managed to find a mechanism to alert them to the fact that I was a million miles from OK.

Hurting myself speaks so much louder than words

This is a viewpoint I know most people would want to challenge. But I can honestly say that for me, with my family, it is the truth. I have tried talking to them. I’ve poured my heart out in person, on the phone, and I’ve written them letters so they could read and re-read the message.

Nothing I can speak or write does these feelings justice. Nothing is more true to the pain I feel than the act of inflicting physical pain on myself. This simple, yet disturbing demonstration is the only way I can authentically communicate my distress.

The reactions of those I love proves to me that they care

Sounds perverse I know. But I doubt myself constantly.Most of the time I can’t fathom why anybody would care about me. I accept that the people close to me are warm and generous and I adore them. But I don’t see what they get from me. I leap to the conclusion that they spend time with me because they pity me. I decide for myself that they get no enjoyment from my company – particularly not in the past year when I have been so miserable and needy.

This means that something important is reinforced in their shocked reactions to my self-harming behaviours. I want them to be horrified, as I believe it demonstrates that they do in fact care about me. I feel important to them when they are scared for me.

Lashing out at myself is lashing out at my parents

I hold a lot of resentment towards my parents, and a great deal of anger. I also love them deeply and this creates an awful conflict in me. When I am so enraged by everything they can’t or won’t change for me, I know that inflicting pain on myself gets to them. I know it is devastating for them whenever I cut myself or overdose.

They love me and essentially they created this body I live in. So hurting what they gave me, what they nurtured, seems like a perfect punishment. Or at least one that I feel is effective.

It probably sounds bizarre that I don’t want to give up these behaviours. And I suppose that there’s truth in that. If I could just conjure up some love for myself, some compassion for my suffering, I think I would easily let these patterns go. I am aware also, that this is a major obstacle in my work with J. Ultimately, I know that there will always be a limit on progress in my therapy if I can’t rediscover how to love who I am.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. La Quemada says:

    I get it, I really get it. Not my family–they don’t want to know about the self-harm or anything behind it. But I think I play everything so low key that even my therapist can underestimate how bad I feel. But if I burn myself, she knows it’s bad. Also my insurance feels like I have been in therapy long enough, but if they hear I’ve burned myself, they allow more visits. So it does give me relief, that is true. But it also is a way to signal that things are bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Yes it’s hard to find another way to communicate when self-harm really says how you feel. It’s something I’ve definitely been working on. And the insurance thing sounds like it really doesn’t help. Wishing you all the best, Laura.

      Liked by 1 person

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