The Wounded Healer

fragileThere’s a girl who is hurting.  She says she’s ok. But her scars tell you different.  She says ” look away.”

Others have hurt her. They seem to have gone. But she says she can’t stop it and everything’s wrong.

It doesn’t make sense.  She says, Stop Being Weird.

But the pain she controls is what squashes her fears.

Because it works; and nothing else does.

Because the people she loves hurt her; and now the pain feels like love.

Because she needs to know how much she can take.

Because she fights pain with pain. Like a dream, but awake.

She can’t say the words, but the marks speak it all. “I tripped on the stairs and my head hit the wall.”

They say she’ll get better.  But she feels bereft.  If they take this away, there’ll be none of her left.


But sometimes, at night, when it’s cold and it’s dark – she dreams of a man who can speak to her heart.

“Don’t touch it,” she says. “It’s hot – you’ll get burned.” But He walks through the furnace and towards her He turns.

“It’ll cut you” she says.  “It’s sharp and it’s deep.” He takes it and breaks it.

She falls at His feet.

“I’m too much” she says.  “I’ll never be free”

“My child, I have bought you.  Now come, follow me.”


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12 thoughts on “The Wounded Healer

  1. Emma you have so poignantly captured the painful core of self-loathing fear and resistance to the overwhelming power of unmerited grace; ‘Because she needs to know how much she can take’. So true and so tragic. Thanks be to God who paid the price – who took more than she will ever ever have to or need to. I pray all who are trying to tend or cover or further hurt their physical and emotional wounds can know an anointing, warm balm of God’s care and put the weapon of hate, in hand, head and heart, down. Enough now-be bathed in his restoring love. Amen.

  2. Very true Bekah; it’s so much easier said than done! In fact, it’s almost impossible (in our own strength). “But Jesus.. “

  3. I remembered Liking this on Facebook t the time of original posting, clicked on the self-harm tag and found this right on top. I don’t know the inspirations for this piece of writing (personal experience? of loved ones? anecdotes you’ve read? or a random hazarded guess from the middle of the dark abyss of the interwebs? .. k I’m kidding on the last one!)

    “It doesn’t make sense. She says, Stop Being Weird.
    But the pain she controls is what squashes her fears.
    Because it works; and nothing else does.
    Because the people she loves hurt her; and now the pain feels like love.”

    YES. It was a fierce battle between “Stop Being Weird Those Blades Are Old” vs “phew, I still have them and it’s less than half an hour to midnight” (the before-midnight-for-the-ease-of-counting thing is just a weird ritualistic controlling thing I do to Feel Safe/Have Structure, crazy as it sounds to the outsider) – “It works and nothing else does” is arguably right!

    “Don’t touch it,” she says. “It’s hot – you’ll get burned.” But He walks through the furnace and towards her He turns.
    “It’ll cut you” she says. “It’s sharp and it’s deep.” He takes it and breaks it.
    She falls at His feet.
    “I’m too much” she says. “I’ll never be free”
    “My child, I have bought you. Now come, follow me.”

    Yes yes yes – go away everybody, I hate people – DON’T TOUCH ME.

    I’m in tears (again!!! Been so the whole day, thankfully today’s been an off day), but for a different reason from the rest of the day prior. :’)

    Everything feels too familiar – raised, red bumps that hurt when brushed past (like taking off/putting on clothes), when the shower tap touches it (water), being crazy depressed (I didn’t get up till almost 2pm – only cos mom insisted on my eating lunch -, hid in my room way past regular dinnertime and ate at almost 9.)

    Too much crying (I’ve been crying on-off for the past 10 hours. lol) – I haven’t felt this way in very long and my eyes hurt and I will probably look a wreck at work tomorrow (“are you okay? your eyes are puffy!” etc. I hope they don’t notice, or don’t bring it up if they really do)

    I hate the day after. (But sometimes even bearing the consequences of “the day after” in mind isn’t even a strong enough deterrent for the moment itself … internal angry voices yelling at me how it’s such an act of human agency – did I really have to leave my bed/open the cupboard/pick those (old) blades up …)

    I don’t even know if physical or verbal self-harm is worse. Am I the only weird one who’s still so insecure and Weird and Fragile in the mid-twenties …

  4. So I know the drill – which is playing out exactly as I envisioned it, not sure if that’s a good thing.

    Day 0 – impulse act of self-injury, which invariably bleeds. which tells me It Really Happened

    Day 1 – sink into depressed crying exhausted shameful funk, interspersed with bits of sanity (aka when I have to interact with others haha) – hurts to shower.

    Day 2 – resume normalcy, can function without tears but still feeling A Shame. hurts less to shower. feels raw.

    Day 3 – wounds turn into welts which turn into scabs. They’re raised & bumpy – neurotic as I sound, I actually love running my fingers over them. It feels like some sort of textured reminder that I didn’t imagine the episode in my head. And it feels Real and Familiar. Familiarity is always comforting. Even though I simultaneously feel like A Shame, even though it feels like a Bad sort of Familiar.

    I hate this, because it’s such an emotionally draining mess with such a high level of human agency, which naturally implies I am To Blame and I am A Shame. Yet it also reminds me that the aftermath is always predictable, much as it can be uncomfortable and difficult to bear. I can’t help wondering if this gives me the familiarity/predictability I crave but don’t always get.

    Yet, the strange thing is that the trigger for this episode has almost nothing to do with feeling out of control/thrown off schedule, but everything to do with feeling invalidated and unworthy.

    I still cannot understand how this can fulfil my need for familiarity and predictability, given that its so exhausting and makes me feel like A Shame every time it happens.

    (feeling small & embarrassed & ashamed, and tempted to yell at myself that “only kids half your age do such things!” – this needs to stop being portrayed as teenager behaviour, yelp.)

  5. This convo has the potential to turn into another of my articles haha – by virtue of the authenticity and rawness of thought, I thought my words on this post (much as they make me shudder lol) make for a segment of an article, bcos they ecapsulate the reality of what the in-the-moment of a self-injury struggle looks like :x

    I’m still editing for public readership, but also … clutching onto this part of my heart until I feel safe to let it go oops. (My stand on this article-waiting-to-be-written is … that it is scary beyond anything I can ever imagine .. for now, but yet an unbelievably necessary and important narrative :x)

  6. Slipped into bad space over the week (..! hence, back on this post – ahhuh #neveragoodsign)

    I’m not even sure why. It could be any random thing like Lunar New Year – I don’t do well with it, or rather haven’t done well on it since MH issues. Or my job application writing test – it’s actually a kinda cool task to do … if only it didn’t carry so much weight, ugh. Or even me having to make some phone calls to follow up on an article I’m writing (r u kidding, I have horrible phone phobia, most things are text/email ugh. I COULD CRY and I’m not even kidding. I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous, grown person in mid-twenties crying over making a cold call to a stranger.)

    In any case, I’m feeling scared and small and avoidant/procrastinatory (on .. everything …!)

    To make things worse, I got dropped (!) from my therapy appointments .. to be fair my current intern had a completely legitimate reason/it was medical. & to be honest I don’t really think it’s her fault, as an intern you kinda have to be accountable to higher management anyway.

    So it’s just … who in higher management allowed this to happen and didn’t put a stop to this, knowing that I have very strong issues with being dropped in the MH aspect (I explained this in precise detail over an email to them, once prior. Which is what makes me so sad/mad, like, did you not take me seriously – I said I had issues with being abandoned in terms of MH care …)

    I’m struggling to empathise on this – though I tried. Cos as much as I genuinely want to, I can’t help feeling that wow, why do I always get the short end of the stick, God?

    “Others have hurt her. They seem to have gone. But she says she can’t stop it and everything’s wrong.

    It doesn’t make sense. She says, Stop Being Weird.

    But the pain she controls is what squashes her fears.” – still on point m’dear, will always be.

    “They say she’ll get better.  But she feels bereft.  If they take this away, there’ll be none of her left.” – also this #whoops.

    I haven’t slipped yet, but the idea’s been buzzing in my head since earlier in the week.

    Everything feels so scary, and I feel so worthless and unworthy and forgotten and useless and struggling to cope. And then I realise how it looks on the outside – freelancing while waiting on a fulltime job, writing test for potential job(!), and how much I love writing. Which kinda looks like I can’t sit still/am all raring to go, etc.

    But while I really do love writing and that’s (partly) why I freelance, it’s also because I don’t want people to think I’m doing nothing at home all day. At least I can say I’m interviewing. Progressing, etc. I’m actually terrified to be doing nothing, cause then … what? Not sure if it’s just Asian culture/my social circles/JUST ME, but … yeah I can’t bear the thought of telling people I’m taking-a-break unemployed. It’s easier to say I’m freelancing/interviewing/job-hunting kinda unemployed.

    I’m not even making sense, such that my brain perceives the logical thing to do at past midnight, is to tell a virtual somewhat-stranger-friend (;-)) what’s on my mind. Do/can things ever get better?

    Ps, am convinced this is situational and not a result of hormones/the lack of clean sheets/bad hair, just because life sucks like that. And I made sure to eliminate those possibilities … MH triggers suck :(

  7. Hi Dee.
    I saw this today and I was really struck with some interesting thoughts about “growing out” of dark habits of self harm.
    Several weeks ago I was rolling an overdue guest post about self harm (for a different blog) around in my mind. I was planning it to post around Valentines day because my (probably very unpopular) premise was to center around how Big Girls can sometimes trade their older physical self harm habits for ongoing harmful relationships, which can have a similar effect on the soul.
    The very morning on which I had given myself time to write found me unable to walk, stand or even sit at my computer. I was having painful spasms and terrible nerve pain and meds were not helping. As I lay in the bed day after day my spirits sank lower and lower. I completely lost my vision for the self harm post or anything else for that matter.

    One night my family went out to a party I lay staring at the ceiling, completely absorbed in my own tiny world, wondering if I had some serious damage going on and if this was what I had to look forward to for the rest of my life.

    I tried to find someone to cast blame upon.

    Alas, there was just me, so I lay in self contempt, reflecting on how my life counted as a total failure by virtually every worldly measuring stick I could imagine. Here my future productivity was (likely) coming to a halt and there would (likely) be no more opportunities to make good. What I had accomplished so far was all there would (likely) be to bring myself glory.
    I see that my old inclination to self harm when life gets difficult is still alive, and silent verbal self abuse will do me in a pinch.

    Personally, I struggle with letting God be God and trusting that He truly does hold my future. I do KNOW it, but it is still some effort to allow myself to be at rest in his hands. I struggle with caring what “OTHERS” may say/think over what God already says.
    I cant even say what exactly prompted me to climb out of the hole, but I did. I climbed out on a ladder of gratitude. My family was amazing and my dependence allowed me to see that. I had lots of plans that had to be abandoned, but what of it?. Why did everything appear so catastrophic? Why do I imagine everything depends on me? Probably pride, but the Lord is faithful not to leave me there in that place.
    I never did write my self harm post in time, but I did have a very nice valentine/birthday party for my family on Wednesday. My back still hurts a little but it seems quite obvious today that it was just weak muscles and a slipped disk. Slow learner.

  8. Praying for you Dee. I really think things do change; and that God can teach us through the hardships too. Love what Caroline has shared about learning not to despise our dependence. We can recognise old triggers, but we don’t have to act on them – and we can learn new ways of dealing with our emotions that aren’t destructive.

    Thanks Caroline – what a powerful experience!

  9. Hi both,

    Several days (& at least, Chinese New Year weekend) later, the noise has quieted, a bit (without me giving in, ha.)

    1. I ended up emailing the therapy clinic (this is the one I LIKE and trust, so it was just very horribly unexpected) about things – felt a bit proud of self for self-asserting. Maybe should have phrased the email with less angst (basically I was like “didn’t someone prevent this from happening/why not.” lol oops), but for personal points it’s the speaking up & asking questions that I will give myself a tiny bit of credit. Intern supervisor reached out to me over a phone call – am next on the list, hopefully in a week or two things can proceed.

    (He also asked if I was persevering in dropping safety behaviours. URGH HARD but at least I didn’t wear a jacket for avoidance reasons today. I did, yesterday, walking home in 30C weather, just cos .. it felt safe that way. Idk #people #tropicalweather #strangesafetybehaviours)

    2. Too much avoidance/procrastination/being close to tears later, was motivated by deadline (yes #writerproblems) to send in my job application writing test when I had to. I still feel like hiding in a hole when I think of what a mess it probably was, but for now … well yeah holding my breath in being hopeful-realistic. I think.

    3. Part of me decided maybe I’ll just (try to) chill a bit and read a bit of fiction, now that I have more time on hand to read. Also makes a good interim measure of keeping my mind off things for a bit until .. brain blacks out and starts telling me to Worry – Because That Job, He Didn’t Respond and Doesn’t Want You. *facepalm. Still thankful to casual-read some fiction for now though!

    I won’t say I’m okay, but definitely in a “less dangerous” space per se, if you call it that. As in, not that I’m completely out of this episode – but at least away from the harmful space. I (still) don’t know what (specifically) triggered it, wasn’t like the usual specific trigger type but the omg-everything-makes-me-anxious all-round kind. Which I probably used to feel a lot more, back when I was a teacher a few years ago. So I’ve not felt this all-encompassing anxiety for at least a year??

    But in & of themselves, I still love writing freelance features. Haha. The writing itself is okay, but just … external noise from my brain + people around me. Whoops.

    Still, after the raging noise in my head quiets (intern supervisor over the phone today was like “I know it’s hard to trust something else other than your feelings/brain but sometimes what your feelings tell you are Really Not True”) and all that’s left is the Scary Feelings, .. it’s hard to sit in the anxiety :-(

    @Caroline: “Personally, I struggle with letting God be God and trusting that He truly does hold my future. I do KNOW it, but it is still some effort to allow myself to be at rest in his hands.” sigh, yes this! (& knowing the story of my life, three months later I’ll look back and realise God did know best after all, regardless the outcome .. sigh.) ._.

    @Emma: emotions are such hard monsters to handle :(

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