I say IDK (I don’t know) quite often for someone who actually be knowin’……..
One thing that I know is that I should welcome who I have become in order to survive. I am a survivor.
Survivor. Whoa. But I guess it’s true. Just a head’s up, what I am about to write is real, is tough, it is not sugar-coated, nor is it happy-go-lucky.
I recall the first time I felt so much weight on top of me, and so much pain inside, that I reached for something to make it go away. I was so unbelievably over whelmed with what in turn ended up being depression. I was just desperate for something to help make it go away. I reached for a razor blade and locked myself in the bathroom. I was around 14 years old at the time and knew what I was about to do was not the right choice, but I was at the end of my rope and felt as though there was no other option that would make me feel better. And so began my history of cutting and self harm.
I didn’t cut myself for attention. I didn’t always cut myself with the hopes of ending my life; although I distinctly remember if that ever became the outcome, that I would be ok with it. I cut myself in various places on my body because it hurt like hell. I cut and cut again over the same spot, just to feel something other than the darkness that had taken over me. I didn’t do it because of any other reason, other than that I wanted the pain to go away and that was the ONLY way I knew how to survive. It was my only coping strategy.
So, I was a teenager, trying to survive just being a teenager, but I also had depression. I was me but I wasn’t me. I knew that my family loved me, but try to imagine being so lost, without a map, and the only way to be safe was to find shelter, but all you could muster up the energy for was to self harm. I self harmed up until I was in university. That’s a big chunk of my life. Seven….eight years.
I loved my relationship I had with a razor blade. Ge’ez, just typing that now made me tear up a bit, because I realize how unhealthy that is. It was the only thing that allowed me release. If I got right down to the bare bones of it, I didn’t always want to die, I just wanted to not feel how I was feeling. I just wanted the pain to go away.
So yes, as an adult I have scars on my body that have became a part of me. This is my 33rd year of life on this planet and I haven’t cut myself in over 10 years now. But don’t let that statement fool you. There have been times, some recently, where I was so close, so desperate to revert back to old coping strategies. Now, instead of picking up my old best friend and locking the door, I lace up my running shoes and go. Run. Fast or slow, short or long, it doesn’t matter I just spend time with a new, healthier friend.
I now do not feel like myself if I don’t run. By no means am I even close to being good or elite, but if you run, then you are a runner. It’s something different that I can identify myself with. I am a runner.
What about my scarred body you ask? Well, I have covered my scars with a tattoo, a tattoo of things that make my heart happy and whole. Inked, forever on my skin, taking the place of something else that would have been permanent, is a beautiful illustration that I hold close to me.
First, there is the Three Sisters mountain range in the background – I love the mountains like crazy. I love the strength they hold, the way they have persisted over hundreds of years and stand strong. I love the way they let streams of water pave new paths. The Three Sisters range is my favourite peak in the Rockies and because my sister, my sister-in-law and I make…. that’s right. 3.
The second and main part of my tattoo is Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter series. Why you ask? Well, reading that series over and over again throughout my life has been an escape. Reading these books took me to a place outside of myself where I didn’t have to remember my depression.
The last part of my tattoo is a very special bridge, located in Edmonton, Alberta, called the High Level Bridge. I’ve crossed this bridge many times; both on foot and on wheels, but I remember there was a particular time where I felt connected to it. I had been out for a run, cycling through the snowballing thoughts in my head when I stumbled upon the bridge. I stopped in the very middle and looked out across the North Saskatchewan River below me, and I felt like I had found my second home. Edmonton holds a part of my heart for so many reasons. This just happens to be one of them. I knew in that moment that I had strength to survive and that I was “home.”
And so here I am. I survived, I am surviving and I will continue to.
So Brave Girl, always remember to choose yourself. Be brave.