As I lay in the hospital, I thought for the first time about my future. Never had I really cared before about what was to come in my life. As I stared at my arm, hurt and fear throbbed in my heart. I then realized the lives I had damaged of the people I loved the most. I needed to say those four words that I had never thought I would say in my lifetime. “Help me, I’m sick.”
As always my mom was by my side in that hospital room. So I turned to her and for the first time broke the silence of all the suffering I had endured. I confided in her that I was scared of dying because secretly I embraced life. “Please find me a place that I can go to get help for my cutting”, I pressed. Being the pillar that she was and is, my mom took my hand and ran her hand through my hair, “I’m on it.”
Because of my cut I was sent to the psychiatric hospital yet again. This time, unlike the others, I had determination with the glimpse of a goal. That first day during visiting hours my mom and dad came in to see me with smiles on their faces. They filled me in on research they had done the night before about a hospital in Chicago called S.A.F.E Alternatives. It was the place for people who wanted to stop self-injuring. At that moment, without any hesitancy I agreed to give the place a call.
A short time after discharge from the hospital, I found myself with my suitcase in hand boarding a plane bound for Chicago. Upon arrival, the totality of what I was taking on built up and my whole being quivered with anxiety, but unlike other times I pressed on. Slowly but surely, I took my first step into recovery. That month in Chicago was some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life. Every day, all day, I sifted through my past, present and future in seven hours of therapy. I worked like I had never worked before helping myself heal, learn and grow. The transformation that happened was life altering.
The year was 2001 when I spent the month at S.A.F.E. and it is with tears in my eyes that I can proudly say I have been injury free ever since. It seems like a lifetime ago, these last 12 years, since I have cut. The remnants from those days of suffering that stick with me the most are the physical scars I see daily running up and down my arms. The difference is today I have learned to see them not as a failure, but as war wounds and signs of triumph. Today I can truly say to myself, “I love you,” and mean it.