All My Fault, Not Good Enough: Quick Silver Queen
Trigger warning: self-injury.
Everything was my fault.
This was never said, but it was implied enough to really screw me up. Somehow it was my fault if the kids got into something and I was in the room with them, or just on the same level of the house as them. If I wasn’t watching them any time I was near them and they did something they weren’t supposed to, I got a spanking along with them. Sometimes I joked dryly to myself (and one or two trusted friends) that if a world leader on the other side of the globe was assassinated, somehow my mom would find a way to pin it on me.
I had a lot of anger and depression in my teens. I was growing into a woman, but was kept stifled and like a child. I was constantly told “if you act like an adult, we’ll treat you like one.” I was rarely even given the opportunity to act like an adult, and when I did prove my responsibility (like, I ran the household for a week while mom was in the hospital after giving birth to Abby), it was always forgotten.
I didn’t present a happy face enough. I didn’t spend enough time with the family. I didn’t spend enough time homeschooling the kids (which was my job, right?! Yeeeah). I didn’t spend enough time cleaning up the house (even if it wasn’t my chores). I didn’t serve my dad and brothers enough. I didn’t put enough time and energy into making dinner. I didn’t go outside enough. I didn’t keep my anger and frustration in check enough. Nothing I did was ever enough.
I’m naturally an introvert, and all the frustration and anger and blame and depression turned inward. I just was not good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t thin enough, nobody would want to marry me. Instead of diffusing my negative energy outward, I also turned that inward. I would bang my head into walls and doorways, because what did it matter if I hurt? I was nothing. And the pain helped the anger and frustration go away.
After a while I decided I didn’t want to give myself brain damage, so I began hitting my thighs and hips. I would hit so hard and so much that I had giant bruises and could barely walk for stiffness and pain. I never let it show though. I wouldn’t coddle myself, I made it hurt on purpose because I had to pay for everything that was my fault. I had to pay for all the ways I was never good enough. When the glass dishes were fresh from the dishwasher and piping hot, I didn’t wait for them to cool — I put them away anyway (I would sometimes get first-degree burns on my hands from it). Sometimes I would scratch my thighs so hard it drew blood. If dad was lecturing and I felt like crying, I would pinch my legs through my pants with my nails and draw blood. Same when he was embarrassing me for no reason in front of people.
Why should I care if it hurt? Nobody else cared.
Starving myself was also a form of self-injury for me. I went on a diet with my parents (Atkins) before I was 18. My dad reminded me (far more than he ever complimented me) often that I needed to “watch what I ate” or “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips”, and “do you really need seconds?” Many days I would eat less than 1000 calories for the entire day, drinking only coffee in the morning and having a bird-sized portion of dinner. Why should I care if I was hungry? Nobody else cared.
Sometime along in my mid-teens I figured out (or learned about) that sometimes people cut themselves. I tried with a pocket knife, and that didn’t work, so I used pliers to tear apart the head of a safety razor to obtain the paper-thin razor blades. I never cut very deep or in visible places, and never more than I needed to. My anger and frustration and depression would evaporate instantly. It was my coping mechanism…besides writing, it was the only way I could get my feelings out.
I kept a razor and a couple band-aids with me at all times for years. I felt naked without them. I told a couple friends about my cutting; one freaked out and begged me to stop. Another tried to make me promise to stop because god wouldn’t want me to. A third confessed she self-injured too. Scottie was understandably upset by it, but he also knew the environment I was in.
When I escaped wasn’t when I stopped hurting myself. I think the last time I cut myself was a year ago or more. I’ve grown out of the craving. I’m much more emotionally stable than I was (even though I have diagnosed depression and am on Zoloft now). I’m building up my self-esteem and self-confidence, both of which I wasn’t “allowed” to have. Occasionally I’ll feel the urge to cut, but I haven’t mostly because I just can’t…unless I do it in front of my daughter and I can’t bring myself to do that. I’m determined she will grow up with the confidence and independence and self-image she deserves.
I have no words of advice. I have no apologies, only my story.