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Apr 29

Caring About Cutters & People I Don’t Understand…Like Me

Posted on Friday, April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

She sat with her back to the wall.  Slumped over with what looked like the weight of her world on her shoulders.  Tenderhearted and caring she was weighed down with pain.

She acted tough because she was strong, but even tough people can be tender and she was both.

Dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt.  She had painted her nails with black nail polish.  She looked “goth” long before “goth” became a fashion statement, trendy and a feature on SNL.

While it’s not a requirement to talk in our TreeHouse support groups most teens take advantage of the opportunity to talk and to listen, to hear and be heard, to understand and be understood.

On this particular Tuesday night this humble, hurting and honest teen talked about her relationship with her boyfriend.  She could be loud at times, but that night she was sedate. In hushed tones she began to talk about her relationship.  She was afraid to lose him.

Like a chemical reaction her words and feelings catalyzed an emotional bond.

Across the void of differences an emotional bridge was built as she revealed her pain.  Caring, support and empathy moved back and forth. We heard her.  We felt her feelings.  We cared.

Honest and vulnerable the details of her drama like the layers of an onion became revealed. She felt pain, sorrow and fear; feelings that we had in common with her.

While she talked she fidgeted with her ankle.  Finally, we understood why.  “Last night”, she said, “I carved my boyfriend’s name…”  Her voice trailed off.

Yes, she took an X-Acto knife and carved his name into her body.

Shocked we wanted to know the details.  Perhaps a question or two were asked, but she wasn’t interested in answering them.  She ignored them.  She was in pain and she wanted our support.  The Why?  Where?  How much did it hurt?  How much did it bleed? would have to wait.

Why did she do it?  She wouldn’t say.  Maybe she knew, maybe she didn’t.

Maybe she cut to show her loyalty, to him.  Maybe it was to show him she really cared.

Maybe it was convince herself that he was worth the hard work.

Maybe it was to make her emotional pain have a visible outlet.

What I do know is that she cut because she’s like me.

She hurts.  She cries.  She’s afraid.  She feels alone.  She feels desperate.  She feels like me.

She wanted relief.  She wanted solutions. She wanted hope.  Just like me, and you.

That support group was in 1989.  It sounds like it could have been today.

If you have a family member, friend, a friend of a friend, or a friend of your child who cuts or self-injures and you don’t understand why let my friends at TreeHouse explain.  KARE11 News last night broadcast a series of interviews about self-injury and “cutting”.  You can read and watch more of it here.

Bring on the comments

  1. I remember this time of my life like it was yesterday! They were some tough days. I still have the scars. The physical and the emotional scars. I wish i could tell you why but i can’t. I can tell you i felt alone in this big scarey world until i found treehouse. It was the support of the program,the wonderful counselors,and the ears of my peers that brought me through and out of those dark scarey days! I found out i was not alone. I learned I was not abnormal..just wasn’t the norm that society knew. I used to hide my emotional and physical scars but since have come to understand that they are a part of my life and while I am not proud of them I know that I can understand where other cutters come from and how they feel. I have learned that talking about that period of my life helps others understand that they are not alone. and that they do not have to fear the world. And that SOMEONE knows how they feel.I hope that others can benefit from my story. Thank you Scott for sharing it and for all that you do!!!

  2. And, thank you Heather for your kind words and for using your pain to bring hope to others!

  3. And, thank you Heather for your kind words and for using your pain to bring hope to others!

  4. I remember those days too. It’s nice to see that people will speak up about something as dark and lonely as cutting and open it up for parents to discuss. It was something I wouldn’t have wanted to share with anyone, let alone the media. I must say I am really proud of all those teens and you too, Scott! Keep up the good work!

    And it’s my 4-year anniversary of not cutting too..

  5. Angie, thank you for your honesty. I agree with you. The TreeHouse teens in the interview were amazing. It took exceptional courage and a sense of safety to speak to the media about such a sensitive subject. They made themselves vulnerable. I admire them. And, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

  6. […] Will they be able to use their scars to help others heal like my friend Heather does, “while I am not proud of them I know that I can understand where other cutters come from and how they…“ […]

  7. 4 years this month…

  8. Amanda, WOOOOO-WHOOOOO 4 U!

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