Community Magazine

Relationships & SI

By Nina
I've done no formal research, but based on my own experiences and my conversations with fellow self-injurers, it seems that there is a strong link between relationships and self-injury, both positive and negative. Those of us who self-injure seem to tend to define ourselves by our relationships. If someone tells us we are ugly, we believe them. If someone we expected to help us out ignores the wounds they clearly see, we assume we are invisible. But it's not true. And lest you think I say that lightly, let me tell you a little story.
The initial trigger for my self-injury was a boyfriend who seemed distant at best. When I started self-injuring, he didn't notice the bruises or cuts, or said nothing if he did. The self-injury continued through our engagement and marriage. He still said nothing. About four years into our marriage, I was diagnosed with depression, and I sat him down and talked to him about my depression and self-injury. I asked him to keep me accountable, to simply ask how I was doing with the SI and to ask if he saw suspicious injuries. He never has. Not once. The man who is supposed to care the most refuses to even acknowledge the cuts and burns he saw on my arm yesterday.
Depressing, right? Except it's not anymore. I've come to the conclusion that who I am married to says nothing about who I am or what I am worth. Yes, I chose him, so it says something about who I was when I married him, about what I wanted back then, but the way he reacts (or doesn't) to my SI issues does not mean anything about me. Rather, it says something about him. He is, for some reason, incapable of dealing with these issues. And I can't blame him. SI is scary stuff.
So, here's the thing. How your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, family, friends, acquaintances, classmates, teachers, coworkers, or anyone else reacts to you does not indicate your worth. That being said, surround yourself with people who do reflect your worth. My husband may unintentionally convey to me that I am not worth his time, but I choose friends who do care and make the time to help me without getting annoyed or overwhelmed.
Find yourself one person who will always react positively. Message me here or on my tumblr if you need it to be me, though I encourage you to find someone you can meet face to face. Find someone like this: One of my friends is actually a former drug addict, which has been helpful. He understands how hard it is to give up an addiction. And when I relapsed a couple days ago, his response was "Time to start again. Forgive yourself and move on."

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