The Bruises Becoming My Silent Screams: Timothy
HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Timothy” is a pseudonym.
Trigger warning: self-injury.
I don’t really remember how I got the idea. It just sort of happened.
I was at a homeschool speech and debate conference run by Communicators for Christ, that traveling caravan that brought NCFCA to the Christian homeschool masses. I wasn’t exactly the model homeschool student. Which doesn’t meant that I wore pentagrams and listened to Korn. It means that, when I liked a girl, I would try to hang out with her. But a guy and a girl hanging out — in the I Kissed Dating Goodbye world — meant that, I don’t know, they’d have sex. And we all know sex leads to social dancing. Or that was the running joke.
Apparently I spent too much time with this girl. Because I got dragged in front of three sets of parents and — in front of all of them, as well their kids — got raked over the coals for all sorts of questionable activities. Not making out, or holding hands — I don’t even know if the girl liked me, so, yeah, we didn’t get as close as even holding hands. But apparently just talking to a girl for those few extra minutes in between debate classes justified this public inquisition.
Frankly, I was shaken to the core. I had never had experienced such a strange situation, having parents — not mine, mind you, as they weren’t there — criticize me in front of peers, as if to make an example of me. I was horrified and embarrassed.
I wanted to cry. I felt confused and surrounded and had nowhere to run or hide but just had to sit there for hours, listening to this “purity intervention.” But I already felt like I was a failure. I did not want to be myself in the position of revealing the pain I was in. Then I would have felt even more like a failure.
So after that, in between classes, I would hide in the bathroom. I was embarassed and didn’t want to hang out with anyone. And then I started hitting my thighs. At first just to get the negative energy out. But then I began hitting myself harder. Harder to the point that I was beating myself. The more painful it was physically, the less I felt emotionally. I was using my fists to bruise my skin — the bruises becoming my silent screams.
That was the beginning. For the next few years this became my chief method of releasing stress and turmoil. When parents criticized me, when my parents wouldn’t stand up for me to other busybody parents, when I would later leave Christianity and fundamentalism behind and find myself ostracized by my former friends and communities — I couldn’t bring myself to accept myself as my own self. I’d simply punish myself, my body. I would think, I was predestined for hell. That’s what they probably were thinking anyways. I was a vessel for wrath; I was always a vessel for wrath; I might as well prepare myself for eternal punishment in the here and now.
Now I know better. Now I know that those parents were trapped by their own fears, creating their own prisons of perfection and trying to bring everyone else into their prisons as well. Now I know that my body deserves better, that I deserve better.
It’s taken a long time to find this new strength. But I did find it. And now I refuse to treat my body like those parents treated my spirit.