Underlying emotions: Tara’s story

What do all of the reasons for cutting have in common? The self. The self is not in control. As soon as the self is not in control, then you have a problem. Often the self of a person who cuts is plagued with self-thoughts and feelings such as, I am out of control; I am worthless; No one could possibly love me; I am disgusting; If people only knew the real me, they would hate me. These thoughts and feelings feel very real to them but of course, these feelings are misguided. Every individual is worthy of love and belonging.

These are just some of the underlying feelings that a person who cuts may feel. Regardless of what they feel, people who cut are seeking a feeling. But to them, it feels safer to feel the pain of cutting rather than the deeper pain hidden inside. To help you understand the mindset and actions of someone who cuts, here is a true story about Tara (she asked us to share it with you although her name is changed).

Tara was 13 and not feeling in control of her life. Her parents were extremely strict and punitive. She was a good girl as well as popular, athletic and intelligent (socially and academically). She made good choices. But her parents didn’t trust her and they hurt her – physically and emotionally. She began to shut down: it was easier for her NOT to feel than to face how awful they made her feel about her SELF. (She felt shame.)

But in reality those feelings were still inside of her and they were itching to get out. She found out that if she banged her head or cut her arm, she would feel a momentary sense of freedom. Tara also found a group online that helped her feel a sense of belonging (something most people truly want).

But after two years of self-harm, Tara turned for help. She realized that cutting was not going to help her in life. Yes, it relieved her pain and stress in the short-term and she had a support group, but as Tara said, “I can’t live short-term anymore. My life is long-term and I want long-term happiness and support, not a life with stress and scars.” Admitting she needed help was not easy, but finding help was. Changing habits was very difficult for Tara, but she found success and wants to share her strategies and advice with you in the next post.

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