* * TRIGGER for self injury* *
The pain was crushing.
I had reached the end of my coping rope and had reached for the matches.
I sat on my bed in my little trailer and ran through all the things I should be doing instead of burning. All these healthy skills I could have reached for. I could reach out to my therapists. I could go to the ER, I could do any number of healthy things.
But in that moment all I wanted was to be comforted by the sweet pain of the flame licking my skin.
I was still in in the trenches of switching from the mentality of pain = comfort. Trying to learn and implement other things to bring relief. Trying to befriend my body and get reconnected with it.
The thick mental stew of depression, anxiety and resurfacing memories was making thinking clearly impossible. The constant state of dissociation was adding another suffocating blanket of weight.
I need to injure to breath.
cut a hole in my skin to let air in....
...or the demons out.
Any hope of stopping the injury went out the window with a flick of my wrist as the tiny match head igniting.
I lite the candle and moved into position to put my arm over it.
I stared into the flame. I could feel its heat on my forearm. My insides welled up in anticipation of the physical pain, which would drive out the mental pain.
Deep inside a small part of me tried one more time to derail the burn.
you don't have to do this. go call for help, go ride the horse, go sit with the dogs, go to the store for pepsi, go for a hard run, call Richard, call Iona and Nola...
"I can't." I say with much effort to be heard from under the heavy weights
can't or won't?
My internal mercury switch tripped and I came up swinging.
"LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE. I AM GOING TO BURN. I DON'T WANT TO STOP INJURING MY SELF. I DESERVE TO BE INJURED I DESEVER THIS PAIN I AM A MONSTER. I KNOW WHAT YOUR TRYING TO DO! YOUR TRYING TO GET ME TO CRY TO DISIPATE THIS MOOD. IT'S NOT GOING TO FUCKING WORK I NEED THIS BURN! I NEED THIS BURN! I NEED THIS BURN!"
Angry now, the injury motivation moved from "burn for pain relief" to "rage burn for the sheer hell of damaging my self." I moved to the table at the other end of the trailer, in hopes that those two seconds of transit time would calm the rage.
I set the candle on the table and got ready to burn. My eyes focused on the flame. As I raised my arm to apply it to the flame, my eyes defocused on the foreground and became aware of the background.
What I saw stopped me.
It was my reflection in a small mirror.
I was face to face with my abuser.
That didn't look like the face of someone 'trying to help' me by injuring me. It didn't look like someone who wanted to be helped. It looked a lot like a angry animal trying to look fierce so everyone would leave it alone. She looked to be in a lot of mental pain/torment. She didn't look reachable.
I tried to get my brain back to burning my self by returning my eyes to the flame.
but my focus again returned to my eyes in the mirror. The rage and hate were gone, there was just a wounded me in there now.
My guts churned. what was this? What is going on?
I blew out the candle and ended up having a good sobby cry with my reflection.
The mirror became a tool in my arsenal to help me heal. It forced me to SEE. See not only who was harming me, but who I was hurting as well. Firmly connecting that "hello...you are both the abuser and the abused here."
It also was helpful in derailing injuries because it added an "audience" and took out the secretive/solitary aspect of the SIV.
For a long time there was a note on my box of matches. "look at who you are going to burn." A reminder to use the mirror.
I found quickly that I have zero tolerance for watching my self be abused/injured.
I can even to this day derail injury urges by sitting with a mirror and connecting with my self.