Disclaimer: I am sorry for my honesty about some controversial things, but I’m done with secrets and done with worrying about whether or not I should be so open about certain things. I went my whole life thinking I was the only one, and now that I know I’m not, I will do all I can to not let another person grow up feeling like “the only one.”
In between typing the very words you are reading, I must stop to wipe more blood off my arm- to erase another drop of shame from another possible scar after another moment of blinding emotional darkness and another failed attempt to handle depression in a healthy manner. Another, another, another. There’s always an “another.” I have nearly given up on “never again”s.
I would venture to say that I am not alone in my struggles. Perhaps you aren’t a cutter, but don’t we all have our “another” moments? Don’t we all struggle with “again”s? Haven’t we all justified hundreds of “one last time”s and broken hundreds of “no more”s? Haven’t we all wondered if there is hope anywhere in the midst of all these “another” moments, and haven’t we all yearned for freedom?
There is freedom in Christ. I believe that. But why hasn’t he given me freedom from cutting? It certainly isn’t because I haven’t prayed hard enough, or read my Bible enough. I’ve always done all the things that “good Christians” are “supposed to do.” So where’s the freedom?
Will I struggle with depression and self-injury my entire life? There’s a possibility that I won’t, but to be honest, I doubt I will ever be able to abandon my old archenemy. The sexual abuse I suffered as a child, the extreme bitterness toward church that I built up throughout elementary and junior high school, the verbal and physical abuse I received from my first boyfriend, my unrelenting perfectionist personality – these things all carry notorious side-effects, and cutting seemed to be the only cure. When I was angry at myself for getting a B on a report card, I could punish myself. When I felt guilty for the things my ex-boyfriend told me I was, I could relieve the guilt. When I was stressed, but didn’t want the world to know, cutting was a perfect secret release. When I couldn’t get the memory of my abuse out of my head, cutting was a welcome distraction.
And, there I go again. Referring to my struggles in past tense as if they are over. Speaking in past tense helps my pride, keeps me from facing and admitting to my problem. You would think that the sting in my arm would be enough to wake me up, but it isn’t and it never has been. A few years ago, I spoke in front of my youth group about my “story.” I told them that, “thanks to God,” I had stopped cutting. Truth was, I had cut the night before. I had been so nervous about speaking in front of people the next day, and I couldn’t handle that on my own. A week later, I cut again, this time due to the guilt that I got every time I got an “I’m proud of you,” or “You’re so strong!” from someone in my youth group. I stopped sharing my story for a long time, because I thought I was too messed up to help people.
But, as I write this note that is not turning out at all to be like what I had planned it to be (that’s what I like about blogging- there doesn’t have to be an outline or a coherent progression of thought, which is much more real than my academic papers) I am realizing something. Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean that I will be perfect. Yes, I am aware that the Spirit can empower us to give up sinful lifestyles and to do right, but let’s face it, we’re always going to have “another” moments. Freedom means that, for every “another” moment that I have, Christ gives me an “another” moment of grace. I cut again, and Christ forgives me again. I cut one last time, and Christ forgives me like it’s the first time. I am completely covered in his grace! I am just as perfect as Him because he became a cutter for me (2 Corinthians 5:21)!
Do I still want to quit cutting? Yes. Of course. And now that I know what freedom is, I believe I can start on my journey to quitting. Unfortunately, I don’t know the next step yet. Counseling perhaps (though, this would be a terrifying step indeed). I don’t know. It’s like being released from prison. The freedom is grand, but I seem to have no where to go. That’s okay for now though. I know I’m free.
I also know that, even if I am still cutting, I can share my story without shame. Yes, I am messed up, but so is everyone else. We all have “another” moments. We all fall. This is why we must stop walking alone. Sometimes we need help getting up. Sometimes we need to be carried. Sometimes we need a hand to hold or a shoulder to lean on. Freedom isn’t the end of this journey- it’s the beginning. We all have a long way to go. Let’s do it together!