Having secrets makes me lonely

If you haven’t ever visited http://www.postsecret.com/, you should do so. People mail postcards containing a secret to the site’s creator. Every Sunday, new secrets are posted.

I’ve never sent in any of my secrets but there is usually at least one secret each week that I can relate to. And sometimes being able to relate to something can be helpful.

Take the past two weeks for example. I spent them fighting off depression. Nothing new. I’ve struggled with depression on and off for most of my life. But since I quit cutting last November, things have been especially difficult. Cutting was my comfort blanket, my pain reliever (how’s that for irony?), my quick fix.

Cutting was like an abusive boyfriend that I couldn’t leave. I thought I needed it. I thought I couldn’t live without it. And though I eventually worked up the courage to leave that “relationship,” I still have Cutting’s figurative contact info in my figurative phone. And I am still tempted, almost daily, to give it a call. When I’m depressed, that temptation only grows.

After bragging about my time on the cutting bandwagon, I felt guilty about how much I really wanted to cut. I couldn’t tell others about my desire to use my HM of choice (pokemon humor…heh). People look up to me. People are proud of me. I couldn’t let my ego take a stumble like that. I had an image to keep up.

But I wanted to cut.

These were my thoughts for the past two weeks until I visited Post Secret  and saw this secret (sorry if the profanity offends anyone).

My feelings exactly (profanity included).

I wasn’t alone.

And knowing I wasn’t alone reminded me that it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s normal to miss something that was such a big part of my life (even if it was bad for me). It’s okay to be honest about my humanity. It’s okay to tell my secrets.

So, here I go, pushing my pride off the balcony. I miss cutting too. The months since November have been some of the worst months in my life just because I’ve had to face them without cutting. I’ve been acting like quitting has given me happiness and freedom. But really, I’ve just felt weak, needy, and lost.

And, more than anything, I’ve felt alone.

But when other people tell their secrets, I know I’m not.

So, tell your secrets. And I’ll tell mine. And we’ll get through this mess that they call life together. And it will be easier because we won’t be alone.



3 Months, Thanks to You All!

I’ve written multiple, brutally honest (and hopefully not too “emo” sounding posts) about my self-injurous tendencies. In fact, one of my biggest reasons for starting a blog in the first place was the hope that I might clear away some of the shadows of ignorance and taboo surrounding the issue of self-injury. Many people do it. Few people talk about it. I believe that this is a problem.

I am an extremely private person and don’t always enjoy talking about such things in the most public place on earth (the internet, for those who haven’t had their coffee yet). However, I feel compelled to share so that my fellow self-injurers know they aren’t alone, and so that those who don’t self injure can better understand our position. I share in order to give other people what Jon Acuff, of “Stuff Christians Like,” refers to as  “The Gift of Going Second.”  But don’t think this hasn’t been a gift to myself as well. Let me explain to you a bit of the intrinsic value that blogging has bestowed open me!

First, a celebration of sorts! I hesitate to get too excited, since my biggest downfalls seem to occur directly after proclamations of victory (I blame deforestation: not enough wood to knock on). However, I have been cut free (slicing and dicing being my preferred method of inflicting pain upon myself) since November! This may not sound like a major deal. After all, it is only February. However, taking into account the biweekly razor blade dates that occurred LAST February, I would say that I have reason to be excited! I don’t believe that I would be able to have such a celebration if I had never started blogging! Why? Well, allow me to explain!

–Writing, as I have discovered, is a much more effective and healthy means of relieving depression. Letting out my problems in words, rather than in blood, has been wonderfully therapeutic!

–Blogging gives me support and accountability. Yes, I had wonderfully supportive friends before this blog. But, the topic of self-injury, being the taboo topic that it is, doesn’t come up often in conversation. “Hey friends! How are you today? Oh, by the way, I’m a cutter!” This may be the extreme introvert in me talking, but I find blogging to be a much more effective communication tool. Now, my friends know what I struggle with, why, and how to best help me in my adventure!

–It turns me into a land-locked country. They say “no man is an island,” but I believe I have spent most of my life as AT LEAST a peninsula. I revel in my independence to a fault. Blogging, however, has placed me amidst other self-injurers. We’re all in this together, now, and while I don’t always like that idea, I know, deep down, that it is best.

A new emotional outlet, the support of loving friends, and a family of fellow self-injurers. Would I be able to celebrate the past few months were it not for these things? I think not! Thank you, dear readers, for joining me on this difficult journey. What a blessing you have been! :)


By his stripes

Christ was pierced for my transgressions.  He was bruised for my sin…

By his stripes I AM healed.

How often I forget those words- those beautiful truths that I have had memorized since my AWANA Sparks days! It is time to remember:

Christ’s wounds cover my sin of lust. Satan comes to heaven with stones in his hand saying, “This woman commits adultery in her heart everyday. She would rather entertain these self-indulgent thoughts than wait on your perfect plan for sex. Someone must die for that.”

Christ holds out his nail-scared hands and reminds him, “I already did.”

His wounds cover my sin of pride. Satan storms in again. “This woman places herself above everyone. She is selfish and thinks much too highly of herself. Someone needs to take a mighty big fall for this.”

Christ pushes aside his hair to reveal the scars from his mock-crown and repeats himself, “I already did.”

His wounds cover my sin of hatred. Satan returns, feeling confident. “You said yourself that whoever hates another is guilty of murder. Just look at the hateful things she’s said about your own church. Look at the hateful things she’s said about her own family! She’s even hated a man so much that she prayed he would die. How can you possibly let this murder walk free?”

Christ motions to his wounded side and reminds him, “I took her punishment. I died for her.”

And, yet, while all this goes on in heaven, I sit at home, wondering how I could ever pay off my own sin. It will take a lot of wounds, a lot of stripes. “I’d better get started then,” I think, as I take out my favorite razor blade.

But, then Christ shows up. He motions to the stripes all over his body. “These are enough to heal you,” he says. He knows how hard it is for me to believe him. He knows I will inflict much more pain upon myself  before I fully grasp the concept of redemption, but he doesn’t condemn me. He just puts his arm around me (he knows I am not a hugger), smiles, and hands me a band-aid of grace (which are even better than the Spongebob variety). He heals. He comforts. He understands. And, it is a beautiful thing.

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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!

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Things I have (un)learned since high school:

In high school, people often told me that you go to high school to learn, and then you go to college to unlearn everything you learned in high school. Over the past two years, I have found that to be true. Some of the things I have (un)learned about life since graduating high school have completely turned my world upside-down. Though at many times during this process of “world rearrangement” I felt like I was going to fall off, life looks far sweeter from this new perspective than it ever did before. I would like to share with you some of the things I have had to unlearned since high-school. I don’t expect many people to read this whole note (it’s ridiculously long!). That’s okay- it’s more for me than it is for you. Still, if you have the time, go ahead and skim through it. Perhaps you will unlearn something too.

“You must be an extrovert to succeed in life”– I am an introvert, and extremely so. There is no middle ground for me. I love people, but they are to my energy as Count Dracula is to Mina Harker’s blood (a reference for those of us who still care about REAL vampires). I am terrible at small talk, I am uncomfortable speaking in large groups, and it takes a long time for me to make new friends. In high school, if you were an introvert, you acted like an extrovert. I know I did it. And in acting like an extrovert, I learned that pretending to be something you’re not is a miserable experience. Now, I know I am an introvert, and I know its alright to act like one. I can decline invitations to sleep-overs. I can retreat to my room for several hours after a big party. I can give new people at church a friendly smile instead of scaring them away by trying to start an awkward conversation. It’s okay. That’s who I am (thanks, Freshman Foundations).

“My ‘purpose’ in the body of Christ”– The Bible clearly tells us that if the whole body were an eye, we’d be one screwed up, freaky looking body (I think that’s in the Message somewhere) and that it’s okay to play a different part than someone else. Still, when I was in high school there seemed to be a trend in Baptist churches: Making teenagers feel guilty until they commit to become a preacher/preacher’s wife. I “committed” to the whole “preacher’s wife” thing after many a guilt-laden message at camp, or a particularly convincing alter call at a missions conference. It never felt right though. My desires, talents, and abilities just didn’t seem to mesh with that decision. Now, I understand that not all desires are godly, and that the Holy Spirit can empower us to do things we don’t have the ability to do on our own. However, I have learned since high school that when we are seeking Christ, our desires will often stem from a desire to glorify him, and that God wants us to use the talents He’s given us in specific ways for His purpose. So, if I do end up married to a preacher, that’s cool. But I can still have my own purpose in life. I don’t know exactly what that purpose is yet, but I now know that I don’t have to be a preacher’s wife in order to glorify God with my life.

“Dating is a miserable experience”– My relationships (both romantic and platonic) with men in high school were less than stellar, and the book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” (not that the mindset behind it was bad, but for me it only provided confusion) was extremely popular when I was growing up. I left high school with some very negative ideas about dating the opposite sex. By the time I had started dating Aaron for the first time the summer after graduation, I had already sabotaged the relationship in my mind, which led to a break up a few months later. I spent the next six months after that break up in prayer that God would remove my attraction and growing love for this man as if it were a sin. God, being the awesome, all-knowing God that He is, instead strengthened that attraction and love, and threw Bible passages like 1 Corinthians 7 at me, as if to say, “Hey, this is okay. This is how I made you. Not all men want to hurt you and not all dating relationships have to be sinful or unwise.” Eventually, I gave in and started dating Aaron again, this time allowing God to renew my mind along the way. I’m glad I did. Even though that relationship didn’t work out in the end, I learned a lot from it, and it has helped me to learn that it’s okay to date people that I am attracted to.

“I am defined by my mistakes”– High school for me was one big identity crisis. I was constantly knocked down by the concept of “What you do defines who you are.” I suppose to the world there is some truth in that. However, the truth is, in the crazy, upside-down world of Christianity, it is not about how we live, but who lives in us. I may sin, but, in Christ I am not a sinner. I may cut, but, in Christ I am not a cutter. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 brought me to this conclusion. In this passage, Paul lists several types of sinners (slanderers, adulterers, etc.), and states that these people will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then addresses the church stating, “And that is what some of you were.” I think “were” is the key word. No, the church is not perfect- we still slander, commit adultery, steal, get drunk, etc. But we are not slanderers, adulterers, thieves, or drunkards. We are washed, sanctified, and justified of those sins- past, present, and future. They don’t have to define us. Our identity is Christ.

“God’s grace and love are conditional”– This is a tough one. It took me years to grasp the concept that “while we were STILL sinners” God demonstrated his love for us, and Christ died for us. High school was a time of considerable insecurity, as I thought that I could (and did) “out-sin” God’s grace. I mistook principles for godly living as conditions for grace. In reality, the reason Paul gives in Romans 6 for not living in sin is that we are already FREE. It’s silly to live like we’re dead when we’re alive, and it’s silly to act like a slave when we’re free. However, regardless of how we act, in Christ we ARE alive, and we ARE free. I knew Jesus as my savior in high school, yes, but I was acting as if I had to be my own savior too. How foolish! It’s not about me: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“I am ‘the only one'”– Especially in Christian circles, it seems, there are many things that “everyone is doing, but no one is talking about.” There are issues that Christians struggle with, and because of this “failure to communicate” we each think that we’re the “only one” struggling. We Christians only seem to discuss these issues long enough to condemn them; never long enough to admit we struggle with them to, or discuss how to find freedom.You know the issues: masturbation, self-injury, homosexuality, depression, suicide, porn, abuse, rape, drugs/alcohol, etc. An event that I attended recently called, “Stand Up For You Sisters” was probably the most impacting event in my life to date (outside of salvation). In this event, dozens of women met to discuss the taboo issues mentioned above. We then filled out anonymous surveys listing these issues and were asked to mark which ones we struggled with. Finally, the surveys were collected, shuffled, and then passed out again. Someone read the struggles from the list and we were asked to stand if the survey we were given marked “yes” on that struggles. There was not one struggle where only a few people stood up; many struggles got easily 90% of us off our feet. Looking around the room and seeing how many people were battling the same sins as me was life-changing. I don’t struggle with all of these things, but I do struggle with many. For instance, I grew up thinking that I was a “freak” because I struggled with self-injury. Because I thought I was a “freak,” I hid my struggle from the rest of the world. It was not until I learned that I was not alone that I could begin to confess my sins to others, and in doing so, experience healing.

“Friends are friends forever.”– I had many friends in high school (probably as a result of trying to be an extrovert). Most were good friends, wonderful people, and we had great times together. However, when I went away to college and most of my friends and I naturally went our separate ways, I thought it was the end of the world. It’s hard growing apart from friends, but it is a normal thing. I still see old friends now and then, I still love them, and I still enjoy their company, but I really only have one friend from high school that I still spend time with on a regular basis. I left for college, made new friends, changed in many ways, and my other friends stayed at home, made new friends, and changed in different ways. That’s okay. That’s normal. That’s life. I have heard that if you end up staying close to with one true friend from high school, you’re lucky. I have my “best friend since we were babies” so I guess eating all those marshmallows out of all those boxes of Lucky Charms paid off.

“Change is bad”– In high school, where stability is rare, change seems to get a bad reputation. “You’ve changed” was never a compliment during those years, and it was always stated with sadness. In college, however, I have come to realize that the biggest problem is stagnancy; stagnancy is an enemy of growth. The “theme” of our college this past year was “Moving Beyond.” How refreshing it has been to learn how to move beyond! It’s a difficult thing to do, I’ll admit, but God has helped me to move beyond past hurts, to out deep roots of bitterness, to forgive my past failures, and to look toward a bright future, to stick my head out of my comfort zone and to experience the rest of the world. Change is frightening, change is overwhelming, and strange, but change is also necessary, and in most situations, change is good (whether it seems that way at first or not).

I have had to unlearn many other things. I could probably write a book on the whole process, and I still have much to unlearn! Sometimes, old mindsets creep up and hinder the unlearning process. That’s okay though, because if there’s one thing I’ve unlearned out of all of this its the idea that life consists of one-time fixes. It simply doesn’t. It’s a journey, an adventure, and a process of learning and unlearning as we try to become more like Christ.