Self harm is so difficult to talk about. It’s one of those harmful shameful things that we don’t discuss, because we’re afraid of how people are going to respond to what we say about self harm. They are afraid if they have to actually notice it, then they have to deal with the underlying issues of what you’re doing…to yourself.

For some of us it is the most soothing form of release, it can be a balm against an open and festering wound. It can be hard for people on the outside to understand this. It can be hard for the to comprehend that the idea of causing ourselves more pain, can heal the hurt that we’re already experiencing.

There aren’t really words to describe the practice. We hide it because we’re ashamed of the fact that we’ve caused ourselves harm. Because we’re afraid that people will say stupid shit like “why did you do this to yourself?” or “you asked for it because you cut yourself.

They don’t understand the breathless calm that comes over your body when your physical pain is more important or impactful then your emotional pain. They don’t get it, because they don’t use self-harm as a coping mechanism, not that they should.

I will say that I used to hurt myself all the time. I was always filled with so much anxiety, and depression, that I wouldn’t watch where I was going. When my mom’s best friend started to point out how accident prone I was, I tried really hard to stop doing it, because I didn’t like that she’d noticed, not that I had noticed myself.

But I made a concentrated effort not to trip or fall anymore, even though I mostly couldn’t help it. When I got older and started getting raped, the “accidents” ended up often with me bleeding, and then I would pick at the scabs, deliberately trying to leave scars, so that I wouldn’t forget that I’d been sexually abused.

Because “one day”, I was going to be big and strong enough to fight back, “one day,” I wasn’t going to be a victim anymore.

“One day I am going to be skinny, One day I am going to be successful, One day I am going to be happy because everything will fall in place,” but until “one day” came, I was going to retain control over my body by leaving scars in order to prove that it belonged to me.

Eventually I gravitated towards getting tattoos, but during my first ever tattoo appointment, the owner of the shop grabbed my breast and kissed me, so even that was a betrayal. I wasn’t, I realized, safe anywhere.

It took me years to get another tattoo, and throughout the whole process I kept waiting for the artist to assault me, or grab me in some way. It took several years but eventually he put his hands on me too, because no matter how much freedom you give men it’s just never enough.

I don’t get tattoos anymore, mostly because I can’t afford it, but also mainly because I don’t trust the tattoo artist industry, I don’t trust that the men in it won’t go too far, I’ve learned that men never take no for an answer, no matter how you say it.

Tonight as I wrote this essay, I decided to start an Only Fans account. I’m not ready to share it yet, but maybe one day I’ll feel comfortable enough with my body to share it with the world again. I have it for that day, for the day that I am ready to start showing the world that I don’t care what they think of my body, for the day that I am finally ready to be proud of what I made out of what God gave me.

Until that day, I just want you to know that if you or someone you know harms themselves, I understand. I know what it feels like to feel like your body doesn’t belong to yours, or that your emotions are too overwhelming to handle.

I know what it feels like when people who live outside your head, think they get a small glimpse and understand, even though they really don’t have a clue. I know precisely what it feels like to have people think the worst of you, even though they only know what they’ve been told, instead of what they have seen with their own eyes.

I deal with it by choosing not to give a damn. I said that to my grandpa once and he gave me a lecture on how good girls don’t swear.

If being a good girl means that I have to let men grope me or rape me, if it means staying silent when I am being oppressed and abused, if it means remaining miserable while others tear me down to make myself feel strong, then I am not interested in it. I have absolutely zero desire to be anyone’s plaything.

I want to be someone’s person, and the only person in the world that I really, truly, want to belong to, is myself.

To those of you who are considering self harm, please remember that you don’t actually deserve to feel pain, physical or emotional. That’s a lie that abusers tell us so that they can excuse their behavior. There is absolutely zero reason for anyone to tear you down in order to make themselves feel better.

You deserve to feel happiness, love, and joy, without having to make excuses for feeling happiness, joy, and love.

If you need a little extra love, I am sending all of mine

Devon J Hall

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