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I Cut Myself… Melissa’s story – trigger warning…

In honor of our upcoming Gala (have you gotten your tickets yet?), We are counting down our most popular Lovely Like Me stories of all time that highlight some of the work we do here at TLP. These are real girls, real stories.

Here’s #3…

The feeling of relief was only temporary and the scars remained like a story on my arm…

Through most of my life I hated myself. The mirror was my enemy. I didn’t have many friends and a resounding thought was “There must be something wrong with me. People don’t like me, or want to know me.”

I believed that I was worthless and unloved by anyone but my father. I was very close to him. We did everything together. We got up early mornings before anyone else in the house to play video games together. We played basketball in the driveway, threw the football in the street, and went swimming all day every Sunday. I was his little girl and I felt loved when I was with him. I felt happy and appreciated around him like I mattered. I was comforted and I felt a security in him like somehow everything was going to be ok.

My house was somewhat divided growing up. My mother was very controlling of the household and over-protective of my older brother. He is bi-polar, ADHD, explosive personality disorder and a few other things.

The cops were called often at our house followed by counselor (after counselor) visits. I could tell my mother was frustrated because she couldn’t discipline my brother and had little control over him. My brother was allowed to pretty much do whatever he wanted to avoid setting off another temper tantrum resulting in the cops being called. My mother’s frustration turned to a “power-hunger” to control everything else she could. Much of it fell on my shoulders because I was the “good one” that did what I was told.

I wasn’t allowed to leave the house. I was grounded constantly for any little thing like not loading the dishwasher the “precise” way she wanted, which was her way of keeping me grounded. It was rare I was ever not restricted. I would get grounded from my own room and made to stay in the living room with her because she knew my room was my favorite place to escape from the constant arguing, yelling and stress. She took my safe-haven, the little peace I had.

My voice was silenced because I felt the counselors didn’t care how I felt in the house, the unfairness, or the verbal abuse I endured constantly.

I didn’t destroy property or attack people so I wasn’t a priority in their eyes. My problems didn’t matter to them. I wanted so desperately to have friends to talk to about everything, but anyone I did talk to left because there was too much drama in my life. They didn’t want to deal with it. I became so ashamed of my situation. My dad was the only one who really heard me. He cared. My parents fought a lot because my dad saw the problem and didn’t baby my brother and stood up for me when I was innocent. It caused a rift so it was mom and brother versus me and dad many times.

At age 14 my dad went to the hospital for a blood clot in his leg in January 2001. We found out he had Cancer and was in the final stage. In February 2001 the day we got the results of what kind of cancer he had, he passed away. My protector was gone. In that one month everything I knew that was safe had changed.

My mind was overwhelmed with thoughts of being alone in the world without him to love me. I felt like no-one understood me or cared to try. They didn’t know what it was like at home. With my mom I didn’t know what to expect, sometimes she was happy and loving and it was great and like a flip of a switch would get hurtful and bitter. I would be told almost daily how useless I was, how disgusted my mother was with me. I was told no-one would ever love me and that I would always be alone. That I deserved to be alone.

“Liar,” “whore,” and “bitch” were commons names shouted at me.

I remember crying getting on the school bus almost every day because in those short mornings somehow I would do something to set her off and insults flew. I felt conditional love from her. It was times like that I desperately wanted to run into daddy’s arms one more time to make it better, but I couldn’t. I felt no self-confidence or worth. I believed I was better than that, like I didn’t deserve to be treated like that but still hated my personality. My shyness and inability to be happy and outgoing like people around me made me hate who I was. When I looked in the mirror all I could see were imperfections. I became disgusted with myself. On a constant basis I felt emotionally overwhelmed like I was going to explode and other days I felt numb.

One day I got cut by something on my arm and the pain and the sight of the blood soothed my mind for a moment.

I picked up a pair of scissors and cut my arm again. I can’t explain why… it felt for a moment as though by doing that, it was releasing my emotions. The tears stopped and all was silent in my head. So I began to cut every time I felt overwhelmed emotionally. I cut when I was angry and when I was sad. I cut when I was numb to feel something.

I began to feel like I had to cut to make the emotional pain stop. Like there was no other way but cutting to stop it. I got good at making excuses for the marks and hiding them. I wore a facade when I wasn’t alone. I pretended as though there was nothing wrong. I masked my true emotions with a fake smile. At this time in my life I didn’t know anyone else had a problem like mine. I never heard of cutting before. I just did it. The feeling of relief was only temporary and the scars remained like a story on my arm. Shameful if anyone were to find out, afraid of being committed. After awhile just a few cuts weren’t enough to make me feel better. I had to cut deeper, more often, and more. After awhile, even that didn’t make me feel better. The inner pain could not be subsided by the external.
This was from age 14-19. One day my co-worker Grace invited me to a stage production she was going to be in. I went and loved it. The story that was told in the production really spoke to me and also told me that there was hope. Do I dare believe it? I stayed after the production and met some other Lovely girls who invited me to hang out with them.

There seemed to be so much love and friendship amongst them, and this was what I sought after. Could I find it there? I DID.

After meeting some more girls who offered me their friendship, and actually listened when I talked, and didn’t get scared off when I told them my story- I began to learn so much about my own value. I felt treasured for the first time since my Dad died. I was learning to love myself and cancel out those constant thoughts in my mind that told me otherwise. I can’t say it was an easy process, it was one day at a time. It was learning to accept compliments even if I didn’t believe them about myself…yet. To look in the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful. Telling myself daily that I am a lovely person. I had to change my mindset of the way I felt about myself and allow those areas to be healed. I don’t know why I decided to give these girls a try- but I’m so glad I did. I can honestly say it was a turning point.

That thought that used to tell me to grab the scissors is gone.

I’ve forgiven my family and we talked about our past, my mom has acknowledged her mistakes and apologized for them. You can’t change the past but we can change the future. We have moved forward and have a pretty good relationship now which I thought I would never be able to say. She is proud of me overcoming the cutting and low self-esteem. I am also close to my brother too. Not to say my life is perfect, because there is no such thing, but it is much improved. I did find joy and boldness to be me.

I used to mutilate my body.

Now, I am lovely.