321 days ago, I was standing in the kitchen, fighting with my husband while dealing with a screaming toddler and trying to cook dinner. That weekend was a particularly difficult weekend in terms of trauma flashbacks and dissociation. I can vaguely remember, after my husband and daughter went outside, grabbing a knife and pressing it deep into my arm. I don’t remember much between that first cut and the last one. At some point, I made my way upstairs and the last cut I made was as I was standing under a hot shower. I remember my arm being covered in blood. I remember the disgust and horror and hatred taking over as I became more present. I remember putting butterfly bandages on the few that needed stitches. I remember hating myself. I remember the shame that came when I decided to tell my therapist. I don’t ever want to feel that way again.
Today is Day 320 without cutting. It is officially the longest I’ve been in the almost 15 years since I started cutting. I celebrated this huge milestone by taking the day off of work. I went to restorative yoga this morning, went to the mall, bought my first pair of lululemon leggings, and got Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. Now that I’m officially poor from my celebration, I’m ready to tell you about my morning 🙂
You need to know that when I first started doing trauma work, my therapist was just beginning her 200-hour yoga teacher training. She pulled in a lot of yoga into our trauma sessions to help me deescalate.
I saw my shrink on Monday this week, and she informed me she would be teaching the restorative yoga class I was planning to attend today because the regular teacher was going to be out. At first, that made me anxious, but once I accepted it, I was actually pretty excited. There have only been 2 times that I’ve cried in a yoga class. The first one was my last day of “yoga every day for the entire summer.” The second time was today. I was anxious about my therapist teaching this class today because I knew she would say something that would cause me to get emotional. I didn’t make it past our mantra at the beginning of class before I could feel the tears stinging in my eyes.
“I am happy. I am well. I am peaceful. I am safe.”
Safe. “Safe” is not a word that I use lightly. Safe can look like a lot of things for different people. For me, being safe means not being a threat to myself – not harming myself in any way. Today, I am safe. By the time my shrink got to the word “safe” in our mantra, the tears were streaming down my cheeks. I didn’t dare look at her, but I hope she noticed.
Crying is not easy for me. Not easy at all. Throughout the class, my heart filled with immense gratitude as my therapist, the yoga teacher, talked about showing compassion to ourselves and others. I am so different today than I was 321 days ago. I am different today than I was a year ago. I am different today than I was 11 years ago. I am different today than I was 15 years ago.
When I first started trauma work a little over a year ago, literally the only time I felt safe was when I was in my shrink’s office. I didn’t trust myself to keep me safe. Now that I have that trust with myself, now that I’m able to use healthy skills to keep myself safe on a regular basis, there is this huge sense of relief. At least for today, I feel totally free from the torment and shame that comes from self-injury.
I am so grateful to be where I am today. And in yoga class this morning, the tears came not because of flashbacks, or anxiety, or fear. Today, the tears came because I am so grateful for yoga, and my therapist, and the hard work that I have done. Today, I am able to keep myself safe, something that I struggled to do just 321 days ago, and I am grateful for that.
Maybe if I reach a year, a full 365 days, I will say goodbye to cutting forever. But for now, I am soaking up all of this gratitude and freedom that is rushing through my perfectly intact veins.