I’m pretty hard on myself.
Most consequences as a result of any behavior that is perceived to be bad or is actually bad are self-imposed punishments. A prison of my own making for the most part.
Imagine being a Christian who believes grace is for everyone but themselves.
I don’t have to do that more often than not.
It’s a byproduct of being such a justice-oriented, black & white, damn near mathematical thinker.
Any time something potentially negative or triggering happens it’s like an equation for me:
Offensive behavior(s) + response [should] =/lead to accountability or consequence. & where there is no consequence or accountability then I take it upon myself, even if I’m not at fault.
I haven’t figured out where this comes from yet but what a wildly graceless existence, no? Rooted in a belief… a lie that there is no true justice for me. Being aware that this is untrue & living confidently from a place of love, grace, & justice are two completely different things but as I continue to heal I have noticed how many layers I have to uncover in order to uproot the things that have caused me to be this way.
Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp & put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
People will find it hard to see me or my good works since I have a tendency to remain hidden. It’s actually a preemptive measure because I have found that there comes a point in my relationships in which conflict doesn’t get resolved & the relationship dissolves. It doesn’t always happen, but it has happened often enough where internalizing everything is more feasible than putting in the actual work to maintain friendships, especially as an adult [spoiler alert: this is the next podcast episode, hehe].
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to work stuff out despite discomfort but it just doesn’t always happen that way. So, I cover up. I stay home, I have about 7 blankets on my bed (yes, even in the Summer & no, that is not an exaggeration), & all weather is sweater weather to me. Self-preservation is my default but I have been challenged as of late to remove the layers of protection that cause harm, keep me bound, & keep others at bay.
This is why I’d like to reveal for the first time an unhealthy way I already remove layers of myself.
Body-focused repetitive behavior. In the form of excoriation or what is known as skin picking.
I’m sure people have noticed scars on my arms whenever I’m brave enough to actually reveal them but out of… I was searching for a word that was going to give people the benefit of the doubt as to why they wouldn’t say anything about that but I don’t know why people haven’t said anything, to be honest. Especially when they could have. But anyway, whenever I’m anxious (which is quite frequently) I find a spot & start the process (saving you the details).
I know I have to expose this layer of myself because that’s the start of the healing process for myself & possibly other people who struggle with this. You don’t know you need to heal until a wound is revealed so instead of continuing to hinder the process by keeping it hidden, I’m going to address it. It’s how I quit drinking, how I quit smoking, it’s how I’ve quit pornography, & it’s how I will stop harming myself in this way (+ therapy).
Coping mechanisms like these are really just blankets & bandaids that add seemingly protective but actually self-destructive layers to unresolved trauma.
Learn more about excoriation from Mental Health America.
Anyway, with the realization that sweater weather is over for now, I’ve finally taken off the extra protective layer in order to reveal another, more unsightly layer that needs to heal. Now that some of the shame has lifted, I hope there is grace for me somewhere; & for those who struggle with skin-picking and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, I know there is grace for you here with You’re Not Finished. There is enough pain in this world & there are many things here that exist to hurt us, so why would we continue to hurt ourselves?
If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to check out the “Get Help” section here.
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If you want to share your experience with excoriation, or tell your story or journey as someone with a diagnosed mental health or mood disorder in order to connect with & encourage others, & you’re OK with that being shared on the YNF website, shoot an email to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me through the site.
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Have a great day & finish well!