Content note: talk of self-injury, body image, and sexual assault.
I read something recently, I don’t remember where or I would link to it, about how people suggest non-scarring ways to self-injure not because they’re less harmful for the person who’s self-injuring but because then others don’t have to look at the scars and be uncomfortable.
There’s a few ways that people respond when you have self-injury scars. (Or also, in my experience, when you talk about being fat rather than being a quiet fattie, or talk about your depression and flashbacks rather than keeping them quiet.)
Some of them avoid looking at you, ducking their heads and mumbling or going quiet. They don’t know what to say, but to me it also feels like they’re embarrassed by me and want me to stop talking, change the subject to something happier.
Some of them look at you with this bizarre mix of revulsion and pity that often makes my words freeze in my throat and my arms unconsciously wrap around my body to insulate it from their gaze.
And some are angry, though they rarely say so. It’s like you can see the words they’re biting back. Selfish. Attention-seeking. Making it all up. Get over yourself.
Most of my self-injury was the “good” kind that didn’t leave marks for people to see. Punching and scratching, then making sure to wear pants and long enough sleeves to hide the very temporary scars. The worst scar I gave myself finally disappeared sometime in the past year, after 12 long years. I nearly choked with panic when I realized that. I’m not sure why.
Sometimes I want to talk about how insecure I am with my body, with the way my stomach bulges over every pair of pants that I own and looks grotesque in a dress (at least it seems that way to me, still socialized to find fat revolting and evil despite its amorality). Sometimes I want to talk about the memories that come flooding back some nights and some days while sleeping or having sex or even just working, to talk out how growing my hair out terrifies me because one attacker in college loved it so much or how there are normal things I can’t do because they trigger the worst of memories. Sometimes I want to talk about how I’m 27 years old, and people have been telling me that my depression and suicidal wishes and disordered eating and weight problems and anxiety were just a teenaged phase ever since I was 12 years old but none of them have gone away.
I can write about all of this, and clearly I do. But sometimes I just need to say it. Without people avoiding my gaze, or staring back with hardened angry eyes, or looking at me like I’m a drowning puppy. I don’t want to talk about it all the time. I don’t always want to go into lots of detail.
But…I just want to be seen.
(Typical disclaimer that I’m actually really okay, today’s been a decent day, and I’m actually about to go play Mario Kart and enjoy having a bit of an evening. These are just thoughts I’ve been having.)