On Self-harm

A poem (trigger warning: suicidal thoughts/self-harm)



I feel like destroying something 

Maybe the wall
With my fists

It will actually destroy my knuckles
One or two more scars to add to all the others

Pain that’s leaked out onto my skin
Broken, split open, scarred
Emptied, abandoned, carved
Into my heart, my mind, and now my flesh

You see, I have these tattoos
They’re scripture verses
Liberations from curses
Testimonies of what God has done
And they’re true, beautiful, eternal

But I have these other tattoos
They’re puckered and white
Grooved by sorrow and knife
Testimonies of what I have done
And they’re pain, twisted, temporal

Thank You, Jesus, for that—they’re temporary
You see, one day I'll have a new body

But I’m still here
Fist to the wall

Except God is here with me, too
And His hands are scarred, too, through and through

1 Corinthians 10:13
God creates a way of escape
When I'm overwhelmed by temptation

Hebrews 4:15
Jesus sympathizes with my pain
He was tempted like me in isolation

So tonight it’s not fist to wall
It's pen to paper
My oldest outlet
It’s not destructive, though
So it doesn’t feel as good

Why does pain feel good?
That screaming bite
That self-destructive fight
That explosive rage
That self-locking cage, but really


People ask me all the time
Why do some do it? 
Why self-harm?
(They don't know I do it, too)
I give them my best guess, but really


Maybe it’s a release, maybe it's self-hatred
Maybe some emotions are too powerful
Maybe it’s a way of relieving the internal by making it external
Maybe it's a manifestation of unobservable writhing
Maybe it’s a way of feeling powerful when I’m helpless, but really


Your guess is as good as mine
Well, except not

You haven’t been here, tormented in the dark

Or maybe you have
There are some places unspeakable 
You can only know them if you’ve been there

Oh, look—
It’s fading now
That yawning hunger for pain
That gnawing, biting bane

Thank Jesus for that--it's almost gone
The wall doesn’t look as appealing anymore

I left a good bit of skin on it last time 
It’s not healed yet
Just like me

My sister told me today,
“I remember what you used to be like.”


Before the mental illness took over
Before the psychotic breaks
Before the mixed mood madness
Before the rapid cycling bipolar never-ending sadness

Like havoc-wrecking weather
Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer--all in one hour
A chaos of melting senses, leaving me senseless

Before the hallucinations
Before the wandering off in the middle of the night to roam the streets in isolation
Before the suicidal thoughts
Before my wrists grew stripes and my knuckles sprouted angry knots

Maybe one day I’ll remember
No, one day I’ll be new, and that


And it is enough 


(Scriptures paraphrased above: 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

2 thoughts on “On Self-harm

  1. Reading this, I weep with you. I remember weeping with a friend who had self-harmed and what the Lord brought to my mind was, “Jesus bled enough for you”. It is finished. I pray that His blood will “speak a better word” (Hebrews) over those puckered scars. Thank you for your courage to speak out and hopefully minister to those who feel isolated in this horrible cycle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ……thank you. It was the most natural thing in the world to write. It practically flowed into the page. It was incredibly difficult to post. More difficult than anything I’ve posted on this blog. Thank God for His redemption! And His true saving power in my life. It’s not just platitudes or self-help posters or “living your best life now.” It’s having HIM now. And that is enough, always and forever. 💙

      Liked by 1 person

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