“In acting out, I was screaming when I could not voice my pain.”

Big Red Book of Adult Children of Alcoholics p. 503

I have acted out in so many ways throughout my life – drinking, drugs, food, toxic relationships and dependencies, and the list goes on. Yes, my behavior has definitely been hurtful to those around me, but the one I have harmed the most has been myself.

Recently, I have become so much more aware of the ways that I self-harm and just how much I do it. Self-sabotage has been a word in the forefront of my mind for a few months as my eyes have been opened to just how I much I do this to myself.

I think of a little girl opening her mouth to scream and no sound coming out.

I picture that same little girl screaming at the top of her lungs, but only for a second until a huge hand covers her mouth and she has lost her voice.

I have been and still am that little girl. In order to voice my pain, I have to be able to identify it, get in touch with it and have the courage to speak it. Then I need to sit with and process it. These are a lot of steps and difficult ones at that!

For the longest time, I used so much time and energy to suppress and hold down my internal pain. I held it down with food, alcohol, drugs, busyness, denial, and hyperfocusing on others or situations. I didn’t let myself look at let alone speak of what was really at my core. I held that stuff down so worried that if I let up for a second, my insides would spew out like a geyser. That was a terrifying thought.

I had periods of opening up, but I snapped shut again pretty quickly. It was so painful. I was dying from the inside out.

I have heard so many things like this…..

“Why would someone hurt themselves like that?”

“I have no idea why people would cut themselves.”

“Suicide is so selfish.”

When someone feels an unbearable amount of internal pain without healthy releases, eventually they will do whatever it takes to try to make that pain go away. In my experience, self-harm in one form or another is usually the method of choice.

We are not bad people. We are people in pain.

When there is physical pain, we go to our first aid kit or medicine cabinet or to a professional. When there is emotional, mental and spiritual pain, it is a whole different ball game.

Many times when I am screaming in physical pain, there is a clear first step to take. It is easy to identify and name my physical pain.

When I try to scream in emotional pain, many times the sound doesn’t come out. Many times, the screaming immediately turns inward and self-harm begins. The whole situation just got more complicated and difficult. When my scream does come out, it is generally not so easy for me or the people around me to determine how to proceed.

Recently I have been going back to some self-harm behaviors with food. A few weeks ago I hit a very low point. My husband asked one of the most beautiful questions,

“How can I support you?”

That’s what we do right? We want to support and love people and we ask this beautiful and genuine question. The problem is many times neither people have any clue to the answer. Sometimes the answer is simply to be there, be present, show up and listen. Other times, some concrete action needs to take place.

But I am at a bottom of a dark hole looking up along the high dingy sides that have to be overcome to get into the light with my husband. He wants to throw me a rope. He would climb down and carry me out if he could, but there is too much risk of us both getting stuck down there.

So I found myself turning to Google because I couldn’t answer his question. I found some helpful suggestions.

I am learning to use my voice to scream and scream loud to let myself and others know the truth about me and to avoid resorting to self-harm to try to take the edge off the pain.

Thanks for being my people and letting me scream here today!