***This post may contain triggers for self-injurious behaviors. Please make sure you are safe before continuing.***
I need to write, but I just can't right now. Another one of those so-much-to-say-that-I-can't-say-anything times.
But I'm hoping that by writing just a little I can clear away some of whatever's blocking me.
So I went back and looked at some things I have from when I was still in therapy on a regular basis. This is a letter I faxed to my therapist, names edited.
December 18, 2006
The session that we had scheduled for this Friday was cancelled due to a scheduling error. I am not scheduled again until January 24. I am now on your cancellation list.
I think that if I wait that long, I may not mention what I need to.
The only people who know what I’m going to tell you are my therapist friend (my boss) and my other therapist friend (my bishop). I have been struggling quite a bit lately and last week was having a lot of thoughts about hurting myself. I imagined slicing vegetables and purposely getting my finger in the way and just watching the blood drip from my finger. I imagined purposely spilling boiling water on myself. I imagined grabbing a hot pan or curling iron with my bare hands to burn myself.
These were frightening to me. But even more so was what I did on Thursday. My tension level was pretty high. I ended up scratching into my arm with a broken plastic spoon. I also held my arm over a candle and burned myself. By the time I was done I had three pretty solid red lines (that have now scabbed over) and a couple of first-degree burns. I scratched again Friday and Saturday.
I discussed this with my therapist friend. He asked me if I was planning to talk to you about it. I told him that I have several weeks until my next appointment and asked what he thought about whether I needed to make contact with you sooner. You and I have never really discussed what situation may suggest a phone call to you and you know that I do all that I can not to impose on your schedule. He said that if I thought I was done, then I could probably wait but if I thought that I was going to do it again then I should try to get in sooner.
I have been wanting to scratch for a while now today. I haven’t yet but I probably will. This is why I tried to schedule earlier.
I will leave this up to you now. If you think that I should go ahead and wait, I will. Otherwise, you are free to call me on my cell phone.
And no, my husband doesn’t know.
Things were not good between me and my husband at the time. I did not feel like I could trust him with this information. He did not feel emotionally safe to me. It was about a week after I first did it before I told him. He did not react well.
Also, it turned out that my scratching hit an unresolved nerve in my therapist. After a few sessions feeling like he was chastising me and doing everything he could to make me stop I called him on it. I told him that I felt like he had some kind of issue that was making it impossible for us to work together. I really liked him. He is a brilliant man. But the more he tried to control it, or my husband did, the more I wanted to do it. I asked him if he thought he could help me or if I should go to someone else. Our current relationship wasn't working for me.
Good man that he is, he owned it. He acknowledged that he had an unresolved issue with self-injurious behavior. A time when a patient had self-injured and later committed suicide. He'd thought he was through it but realized he wasn't. He said that he'd talk to a colleague to process it and see from there. We agreed to try again.
It was work, but he got through it.
And I said kind of in the title because I realized later that there had been lots of ways over the years that I'd purposely hurt myself. Never scratching. Burning a few times and other things that hurt. I hadn't known that's what it was until looking back.
It's amazing what things become clear looking back.