Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Everyone has stuff that no one can see"

Sometimes the only way to learn from the past and move beyond it, is to stop hiding the truth. There's a new music video out that's been causing a stir, because much like almost everything in society today, parents are claiming it glamorizes a disturbing behavior. The video is Pink's Fucken Perfect.

The uproar is not the F-bomb being said multiple times, though I'm sure that does irk people. Instead people are upset by the disturbing bathtub scene in the video. The cutting/self-mutilation scene. GASP! I said it, I called it what it is. Its becoming an epidemic among our teens and young adults but we still want to pretend it'll never happen to our kid. If Pink never showed those images, little Sally would never have thought of it, right? Wrong, because little Sally already bears the scars from this behavior.
The numbers read like this:
  • 90% of self-injury individuals begin harming themselves during their teen years or younger.
  • Cutting and other self-injury behavior crosses all cultures and socio-economic norms.
  • Cutting and self-injury is a method used by individuals to take care of themselves, their feelings and actions.
  • 40% of all individuals who commit self-injury type behaviors are males.
    Almost 50% of cutters or self-injury individuals have reported being sexually abused.
  • Almost 50% of self-abusers begin at the age of 14 and continue into their 20’s.
  • Some studies indicate that cutting and other self-injury behavior is learned from friends or peers.

Statistically, cutting occurs most often in female teens and young female adults. One such study, done by the British Medical Journal, estimated that 13% of teen between the ages of 15-16 were participating in some form of cutting or self-injury behavior. In the United States, it is estimated that one in every 200 females between the ages of 13 and 19 have tried cutting or are currently cutting. Typically cutters come from homes where physical abuse, alcoholism or sexual abuse has occured.
Medical Health America and Discovery Health report that during the past decade, 1%, or over 2 million people in the U.S. have been involved in cutting or self-injury behavior


So there's some actual numbers, facts and a bit of research I did in less than 5 minutes. But who cares, right? Who actually knows someone who's cut themselves? These people, the cutters, they're all freaks who wear all black and hate the world, right?

Actually, there's some truth to that. I know I wore black and hated the world when I first cut myself. I also know I was in an abusive home, an emotionally co-dependent relationship from the age of 16 which later because mentally abusive, I felt alone, I was an outcast at high school for the most part and.....my parents knew what I was doing. I remember sitting in the living room, razor blade in my hand, cutting my leg in front of my parents and all I was told was "don't get blood on the carpet". Its a wonder, and a testament to my own determination to get the hell away from my parents without hurting the rest of my family (especially my sister) that I never killed myself. Balls to the wall serious, it was that bad more than once by the time I was 18 years old.
Only a handful of people, before I publish this blog, knew this about me. I have scars on my thighs, ankles and inner bicep. All on the right side of my body, which is odd since I'm right handed. They've faded as I've gotten older, but I still know they are there. I have one in particular that I have occasionally caressed almost lovingly because its the deepest and also the last time I ever cut myself. It's on my thigh, very few people have seen it and if they have seen it they never ask about it. I appreciate the privacy allowed to it. It's personal and I'll share when/if I'm ready to.

The thing is, I was never alone. As I learned today from a surprising conversation with a loved one, we're never as alone with our life experiences as we think we are. We just never know who to open up to because our secrets are so controversial, if that's the right way to describe it. How do you know who to turn to when everyone around you seems to have their shit together?
I've been shattered, broken, bruised and ruined. I've had to make peace, forgive and let go of so much more than I ever want to admit to. I'm a firm believer in Karma, but I had to ask sometimes, what did I do that was so horrific THIS can be justified to come back to me? I never quite know the answer. Because for all the bad things I've had done to me by people I've loved, I have been the person responsible for most of the damage to myself. It hurts like hell to realize that. Choices I made put me in bad situations, bad situations left me in bad places, bad places put me in worst circumstances for a while it felt like it'd never end. And it wouldn't have if I didn't find the courage to end the pattern.

I was told I inspired someone. I'm an inspiration?!?! This person has 2 of the most amazing role models in his/her life and I'm an inspiration to him/her?!?! It shook me. It shocked me. It flattered me. But most of all, it made me realize someone else sees a me I don't see. When I look in the mirror I see a damaged, abused, tired, fake of a person. I feel like I spend most of my time pretending to be whole. But the reality is: I am whole, I just have scars. Scars are just healed wounds. The wounds are gone but the memory remains. I'm plagued by memories but my wounds have healed. I haven't forgotten the lessons they've taught me but it might be time to stop letting the scars control me.
Part of doing that, just might be opening up and letting people see my secrets. I have many secrets but to keep quiet about them gives them power. Today's secret is: I used to cut myself to make myself feel something. I was so numb from the high school bullshit that I put up to the shitty home I lived in. The only way I could survive day-to-day was to become numb to it all and the only way to remind myself I was still alive was to cut. It won't make sense to you unless you've been in a similar situation.

I'm rising above it. I've stopped being a victim. I've opened up to love, really love, someone. I've even bound my life with someone else through a child. A child that I am trying desperately to NOT screw up. I might fail at some things, but I will not fail him.

Shows like 16 & Pregnant, Teen Mom and even this video from Pink can all be used to open communication between parents and kids, if the parents stop pretending this stuff only happens to other kids, in other cities, in other states. Instead of blasting this topics and accusing them destroying innocence of youth how about realizing there are messages to learn from and learn. If I can only have one goal as a mother for Nixon, I want it to be that he learns from my mistakes, but he will never do that if he never knows about them. I have to find a balance between TMI and sheltering to keep him from making a mistake he can't recover from. Sadly, I'm almost abnormal in everything I've accomplished so far in life. There are so many statistics out there that would tell you I CAN'T do what I've done from where I've been and what I've done. And it pisses me off because kids in situations exactly like what I was in hear this shit and assume that'll never do any better so why try, right?? WRONG! Fight for it, get out and fight like hell to get as far away as possible!!
I'm not that fucken special. I just hate being told I can't do something and I'm too stubborn to give up sometimes. Its not my best quality, but look how far I've come.
My parents married at 19/20 years old, they had me at 20/21 and my sister 15 months later, struggled financially all my life, I have a alcoholic parent who is also bi-polar, my parents separated for 6 months only to get back together and send my sister and I to live with their parents for a year while they "fixed" their marriage (guess since we were only the result of the marriage we didn't need to be included), I was in an abusive relationship at the age of 15, I did graduate high school, went to college, then dropped out for 2 years. Here's where I started fighting back...I went back to school after the time off. I graduated with a 2 year degree then went on immediately to get a 4 year degree! I left an almost 9 year relationship and moved over 500 miles away from home knowing only one person in that city.
I'm now almost 32 years old. I'm married (3 years in March!), I'm a mom to one helluva kiddo. I have an amazing circle of friends who I love more than most of my family and who see me for me, not my scars. I have family members who hold my secrets in their heart and don't judge me for them. Instead they support me and give me the unconditional love family should give each other. I've cut many ties from my past and I continue to let people who are less than stellar come and go from my life. I've survived!

I'm not cured, but I'm whole.

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