It is amazing to me that I am in a place where I can write about suicide and trauma and actually say it has been so long since I was suicidal that I don’t remember when the last time was. I know when you are in the thick of life and the feelings that make you want to die, that you can’t imagine days will ever get better.
I can honestly tell you that they will. I can’t promise when that time will be, but it will come again. These are a few things I discovered about suicidal feelings and self-harm that I want to share with you. In case you are in that place right now, or know someone who is, take heart, life can get better.
(If you or someone you know is suicidal call 911, the suicide hotline-1-800-273-8255 or your counselor. You can also chat online at: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/)
We are not always taught as children, or even as adults, how to handle emotions. If you experienced trauma as a child it is possible those pathways were interrupted so when you reach adulthood they are not there. Also, many have issues talking about feelings. It is uncomfortable and much easier to stay with what’s on the surface.
This leads to finding ways we think will solve our problems. I for one just wanted to end my deep emotional pain.
It’s what you do when life seems to be at an end. I started first to try to ease my emotional pain by cutting. I wouldn’t cut where anyone could see it on my body, but I could feel it and I thought that pain would ease my emotional pain.
It did ease for maybe a few seconds, but then I hurt physically and emotionally. I now have scars on the upper part of my arms and legs where I cut that remind me of those choices I made to harm the body God gave me.
One thing I found helpful and learned after a few years in therapy, is that holding a piece of ice can give you the same sensation as cutting yourself and ease that “temptation” to hurt yourself physically. I did this so many times I lost count. Eventually, the need to do that tapered as did the feeling I should harm myself.
Why did I want to harm myself?
This has taken me years to understand, even as an adult. I was in deep emotional pain. I was dealing with memories, nightmares and flashbacks of serious sexual trauma, and my friends and family had left me, so I felt abandoned. I lost my job and the chance to marry and have kids. I had lot’s of grief.
What was there left in life? I was angry at what I had been through, angry at God for “allowing” what I had been through and not making my life the happily ever after the world told me I deserved. (Thank you Hallmark channel.)
Ultimately, I also felt I deserved the pain. I felt like a failure, a bad person, a gross and used person. I felt like a piece of trash a lot of the time. So, I hurt myself to “punish” myself, and to try to ease the pain too.
As a Christian, I knew I’d accepted Jesus so I was going to heaven. Heaven is going to be an awesome place, but when the time is right for us to be there. However, I thought, “this earth sucks, I just want to go to heaven.” So, I would do my best to get there, but right after I hurt myself or took pills I instantly regretted it.
I know now this is not God’s plan for us to decide when we meet Him face to face, or harm our bodies He gave us. Also, I truly didn’t want my first face to face encounter with God to be having to explain why I threw away the life He gave me – even if I thought that life sucked.
If I had known how awesome God would make my life and the peace, blessings, and love He would give and grow in me, I probably would not have felt the need to try to hurt or kill myself. However, Satan wanted me out of this life. If I was focused on me and my pain and hurting myself or dead I couldn’t win others for Him could I? I do truly believe it’s a spiritual battle as well.
My life is not all roses, I promise you, but I have increased my connection with God and worked through serious trauma and heartache. (I still have much work to do too.)
I also had to decide that I was going to live the life God gave me with whatever comes my way. I had to choose to be a survivor, not a victim.
Do I wish I hadn’t made the choices to hurt myself. 100% yes, but since I did I pray now for God to use me and my story to encourage others in those dark places.
Are you in that dark place today?
You may feel like God isn’t hearing you, but I promise you He is. Reach out and be open and honest with Him. Share your heart and keep doing this day after day. I’ve been in recovery 13 years, but I can finally say that I can Praise Him in this storm. (Plus, lots of work in therapy that God provided helped.)
As you keep doing this, one day when you least expect it, the sun will rise and you’ll be praising Him for His many blessings.
© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.