I so vividly remember being around thirteen years old when one of my best friends showed me her arm filled with fresh self harm marks after school one day. I remember where we were at & specifically what time. I can still picture her standing there to this day. “Doesn’t that hurt?“, I asked her. “Not at all“, she responded while shaking her head. Little did I know… that very question I asked her that day would mark an ongoing addiction I faced for too many years of my life.
I went home later that night & I remember being alone in my room upset over something & remembered what she said to me earlier that day. I frantically searched my room & found a sharp object which I used to tear my skin open for the very first time, not knowing it wouldn’t be my last. I remember after a few months of this continuous habit, 911 was called on me (I can’t remember who called) & I ended up in an ambulance on my way to the ER from my wounds. These were the absolute darkest years of my life & I was completely convinced that the only way to release the pain was to literally cut it out of my body. If most of the wounds hadn’t somehow miraculously healed, I would have hundreds of scars on my arms & thighs.
April 2nd of this year marked two years clean of self harm & that day will always be a day I will celebrate. When people hear the word “addiction” they immediately think of drugs or something of the sort, but this was my addiction. It became habitual. I would still do it even if I wasn’t hurting just because it was such a habit & if you’ve ever broken a habit before or have even tried, you know how hard they are to break. It was such a habit in my life that I would literally sit in CLASS & tear my skin open, sometimes not even realizing it.
But the beauty of it is… although I once placed my entire identity in self harm, my identity is now in nothing but Jesus alone. My worth is placed on His scars, not my own. I’m not ashamed of my armful of scars simply because they show that through Christ alone is where triumph occurs. It’s where my victory lies. When I hear the word “scars,” I always want my mind to go to Jesus’ scars He conquered for me. ME. Wow, that gives me chills that I’m so eternally blessed with such a loving Savior that He would allow His ENTIRE BEING be inflicted to save ME from my inflictions. Whoa.
Something that I always try to remind myself of is why would I place my identity in fleshly scars when the very second I get to heaven, they will be no more? Someday I will be created in a clean slate & the Bible says I will be equal with Jesus.
Although I will never know how to answer the question “mom, what are those scars from?” when I have children, I still choose to wear them proudly because they show that suicide didn’t win when it was my intention for it to.
But here’s the thing… we choose to make something beautiful out of something so broken. After I chose to do that, healing came. I choose to look at my scars every day & see a victory story rather than defeat. Although I often look a person’s scar-less arm & wish mine looked the same, I will still use them for my benefit rather than my insecurity.
One of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever written was written on the one year clean mark – see here. I use this to this day as an encouragement to myself when the thought of self harm enters back into my mind.
I read this quote earlier today…
when Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten, mocked and nailed to a cross to die, He paid the price for any wrongs. He bled (so that I don’t have to) and gave me grace, love and forgiveness (1 Peter 2:24)
(source), & my heart sank. All I could do was just sit there & stare at it. This is the beautiful, bloody truth of my Savior that left His throne for me & you.
The tattoo (pictured below) on my left wrist stands for “God is greater than the highs and lows” in which I got over the very first wound I inflicted on myself. I use this as a daily reminder of the recovery and triumph I was able to face because of my good, good Father.
If you or someone you know battle with the same thing I used to, please do not be embarrassed to seek help. It’s a real issue that needs to be addressed as such. We are all children of God – made in the image of God Himself who deserve better than to mark our skin this way. Seeking help is so worth it.