So, there was this girl. She had a Christian mom and a Dad who…merely donated some genetic material and caused a lot of unneeded fear. Her life was a cacophony of misadventures, spankings and shame, bumps and bruises. There was yelling, lots of yelling. If she cried, she’d get spanked. Her childhood was a tangled up mess of hurt feelings, insecurities and dream worlds in which she’d hide.
There were monsters under her bed that no one helped her scare off. Nightmares that should couldn’t crawl into her parents bed to hide from. She was scared of the dark, of loud noises, of her cats dying, of monsters she could feel looming just below the bed post.
When she grew older, those fears, that pain, that insecurity hurt her. She made an escape from reality, a retreat into her own little world. A world where toys were kind and friendly, and her only real connection to the outside world. They acted as in-betweens from the tangible reality and the intangible safe haven.
Time passed. The mean father walked out of the house one day. He asked her to help him pack. The little girl was confused, and didn’t help him pack at all. Her mother later told her to stay strong. The happy place was revamped to include characters instead of toys, and it became safer. She took naps, trying to sleep the grief away. When she was awake, she took to food for comfort. There was none to be found anywhere, but she kept searching, while her little broken heart healed in a crooked fashion. Her father waltzed in and out of her life like a revolving door, he cared, then he didn’t. She was the apple of his eye, then she was trash. Someone to be respected then something to take to the dump.
At 16, overweight, unhappy and hurting, the young lady stood on her porch, looking down at the ground three floors below.
‘Maybe if I jump off, I can break my leg and my heart won’t hurt anymore. Maybe if I hurt myself, he’ll feel guilty for what he did.’
‘Maybe, if I jump off, I’ll just die and I won’t have to hurt anymore. Get so sad and so guilty because I’m dead that he’ll die too.’ She stood there, one leg on the rail of the balcony. She looked down, heard her mom approach the apartment door and she scampered away from the balcony.
Someone talked her out of it—jumping would only break a leg or paralyze her. She dropped the notion.
She’d stare at pill bottles, pain killer, wondering if she took enough of those, would the pain in her soul cease? She was sick of hurting. The fear of throwing up stopped her.
Age 18 she was still in pain from the father who’s emotional abuse had scarred her, but who’s hands she longed to cling to, who’s lap she desperately wanted to be in, she wasn’t sure what to do. The pain was becoming a hollow numbness inside of her that consumed her. She couldn’t feel happiness, joy, release.
Everything stayed locked up inside of her. She was staying strong, like Mommy had wanted. Daddy said tears were weakness, just another sign that she was a “whiny ass” as he so called her.
One afternoon, something told her to do it. ‘Yes, grab that knife, it said. See your wrist? You’ll feel the most there.’
But, blood. She girl fondled the pocket knife she’d bought at work. Then she glanced at her short, ragged fingernails that she picked constantly. Yes. Those would do.
With one quick motion they raked across her pale skin. The claw marks were painful, yet satisfying. A release. She could feel again. She tugged the sleeve of her shirt down so no one could see, she wore bracelets to hide it.
‘Look what you did, you failure. You’ve become one of those losers who self-harms. You’re pathetic. ‘ That same voice chuckled. It was done. It became a habit. The girl was trapped.
Then she got some help.
That girl’s name is Becky. She’s now 25 years old and 5 years clean without a relapse. Yep, me.
I know you’re out there, you with the knife, the gun, the pills, your nails. You hate yourself, the world, your parents, classmates, bullies. You want revenge, you want to feel, you need to punish yourself for your shortcomings. Maybe you cry a lot and people tease you for it. Maybe you talk differently or look funny or don’t think as fast as others. Maybe your daddy abused you. Maybe your mom is a druggie. Maybe you’re “fat”, “ugly”, “stupid”, “no-good”, ”failure”.
I don’t know your circumstances, but I know how it feels to see a beast in the mirror. To wake up alive and curse the fact your lungs are working.
The old phrase ‘It’s darkest before the dawn’ is true. Unfortunately, many young people don’t survive the darkest hours, they take life into their own hands.
If you’re a Christian and you feel this way, realize this feeling isn’t from God. He says some cool stuff about you.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
These things you feel, this release you crave can only be found in Jesus. In him there is release from guilt and there is healing.
As for punishment, Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sin. You don’t NEED to punish yourself. He did it FOR you because he adores you more than anything in creation. You. Yes. You. Your sin, guilt, shame all on that cross about 2000 years ago. It’s over, done.
If you’re not a believer, I encourage you to get in touch with some or some loved ones and friends. There is HOPE. IT GETS BETTER! Life IS worth living, and we as humans weren’t designed to handle tough scenarios by ourselves. Confide in someone who you trust. Go be with friends, do what you love.
Get help for your problems. There is no shame, I repeat NONE in getting help through therapy, your doctor or counseling. If you wish to remain anonymous, there are hotlines all over the globe you can call and get the help and support you need.
Here’s a few, and I wish I’d heard of them at the time.
Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
Self Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)
Whoever and wherever you are, I’m praying for you.