Reconnect: a poem about self-harm

I’m so pissed off
that nothing’s right
I’m tired – and weary –
I’ve no more fight.
I’ll use a blade
or a cigarette -
Anything to let me
I’ll hurt no-one
I’m no-one’s threat;
Only I feel the pain
and pay my own debt.

Why are YOU angry?
Why are YOU sad?
It’s me it’s about; It’s me that is bad.
Don’t borrow my guilt
Don’t borrow my pain
Just leave me alone - You’ve nothing to gain.

I make no fuss so why should you?
I need a hug - Is that so hard to do?
If I need to go home to breathe for an hour
just trust me a little – no need to turn sour.
I won’t let you down so try to be just
a little bit freer and give me some trust.
I need to self-harm, it’s just what I do;
so let me go free
and live peaceful with you.

This poem highlights the fact that for those of us who use self-harm as a coping strategy – to ‘reconnect’ with our world – it is a very individual and personal act and not meant to get at anyone else or throw a guilt-trip at them.

Published by Marilyn

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder after fifty years in the mental health system I decided to share my experiences and consider the impact my health has had on my well-being. Being creative is the mainstay of my life and it's how I express my deepest emotions. Photography, writing, and design challenge me and help keep me rooted in the present.

9 thoughts on “Reconnect: a poem about self-harm

      1. I’m delighted to have that in common and extremely grateful that you took time to read some of my posts. Thank you so much for the positive feedback!

  1. I truly do like the poem–it explains self-harm very clearly. I dated a girl who cut herself …. wonderful, amazing woman—i think for most people, the issue is that we’d like to see you people who choose self-harm, find a less destructive coping mechanism. Sure … no one but you is hurt …. except those who care about you. And yes, it is your body and your right … but those who love you would rather you not exercise that p[articular right, when there might be ways of coping which do Not involve doing more damage. So … go ahead if you must, but do not think that no one else is hurt. If that, at a given moment, is what you need to do … then that is you and yours …. but after. let’s work to find some other way? It might take a long time, but if You had another way to solve the problem besides burning or cutting … and the other way worked just as well …. would you use it instead? (Not saying that is right or wrong or even valid, but that is a certain perspective on the issue.)

    1. Hello Chris, Thank you for your honest response. My first question is: do you have serious mental health problems? Are you autistic? If either is true for you then you know the deep pain that often walks with you. Often this will be the case (in mine I have both) and there will probably also be a history of abuse (again this is my experience). These factors trained my mind to see itself as worthless and what is needed is reassurance and true caring. Hence in the poem, “all I need is a hug is that so hard to do”. So while loved ones may be distressed by your actions, a little human kindness rather than questions, lectures, reprimands, or rejections may be the very thing that prevents the behaviour.
      Second question: did you read my blog on “self-harm (the taboo topic we need to talk about)”. In that I say that I ran a self-help group at the local NHS Trust and I was also interviewed by a local newspaper. In that I said “self-harm is a mug’s game” – and I still think that’s true. I’ve also visited secondary schools at a time when ’emotionals’ were forming a counter-group to ‘goths’ and following a self-harming trend. This poem, however, was actually written in response to the attitude of certain staff when I was an in-patient at mental health hospitals.
      My self-harm was never done in ‘visible’ places (neither on my body nor in a location) and people who worked closely with me didn’t realise what I did. Yes, I did do other things, but that was not the point of the poem. I have journals and notebooks full of poems and drawing/paintings that I did as a way of distracting myself from physical harming. I’ve tried talking about my feelings, especially in hospital, but there are very few staff who will take the time for you. It may be their ‘job’ but so often they’d rather read a paper or chat with other staff. And yes, there are other forms of coping strategy – but these often involve other people, and even causing potential harm. Things like excessive alcohol and drug consumption, reckless driving and sexual encounters, are all recognised forms of self-harm. All of these can harm, or even prove fatal for others.
      Sorry I’ve gone on about this but physical self-harm isn’t all about the young people who hit the headlines, nor the ones who appear to be following a trend. It’s a real thing, done by real people, who may be suffering unimaginable hurts. All we’re asking for is human kindness.
      Again, thank you so much for your caring response. You sound like a lovely person.

      1. I have a horrible head full of mental issues which I have been battling mostly by myself for most ofmy life. When I was forced into an evaluation as a child (well, when authorities could no longer tolerate my behavior and demanded an evaluation) my parents made it clear to the doctor that I was fine—asd in, they needed me to be fine for their sakes. Personally I played along (I was less stupid then) and while I am sure the doctor thought I had issues, he could see that between my parents’ budget and their need to have a “normal” child, the best thing would be to pronounce me “normal.”

        I tried the whole panoply of self-medications, flirted with self-destruction, barely lived sometimes in paralyzing depression, ended up homeless, jobless … and basically poor and miserable until somewhere in mid-life I began to get enough good advice from people who cared to start making a little progress. Nowadays you’d still think I was a little off or just a little odd … but you’d have no idea …. I am sorry if I didn’t express myself well.

        To me it was clear from your poem that you were not seeking attention, not trying to get sympathy, not trying to be trendy … that you needed the reality of physical pain to anchor yourself, as sort of a “reset” button, or to finally feel bad enough physically to not feel guilty for not feeling worse … again, a sort of “reset,” by clearing up all the bad feelings by focusing them on a single part of your body and at least temporarily exorcising them.

        I am guessing …. Sometimes all you need is a hug, but sometimes no one who can hug you is there right then … or sometimes maybe you deliberately drove away the person you wanted there, who wanted to be there, and then felt even worse about that. Obviously I don’t know you … and I don’t hardly know myself … but I have been dealing with and trying to help myself and others for a long time …. These are the kinds of behaviors I have seen (or done.)

        I am no pretending to understand you. You are complex and intricate being, with depths and hidden crevices I could never plumb. I am sorry if it seemed I was summing you up blithely. It is just that I tend to say way too much, and I was trying to get the message across in fewer words—but I am no poet.

        I don’t judge you for taking that outlet as opposed to some other—and at least that outlet is less damaging to others. My point was sort of that people who know you (in this case, maybe not you but a generic, second-person “you”) might hurt inside knowing what you had done, and might have wished they had been there … and also might know that it wouldn’t have helped,. Or you might not have let them stay, because you have your own process.

        I understand that people who really hurt themselves often see no better way right then—and I understand that for them, it is both a sort of painkiller and a sort of anchor to hold them form drifting to a worse place (or can be.) So if that is what a person needs to do … I cannot judge that person badly for doing the only thing he or she knew which would work.

        But it hurts the people who care to see that it has happened—not blaming the person who did the self-harm, but feeling the pain which it represents—both the physical pain of the injury and the deeper psychic pain which led to it. That hurts. I know I have hurt people through my bad behavior … my self-destructive behavior …. But when I was doing stupid things, I never thought of others. Afterwards I often didn’t either … but that was who I was. Not good, but whatever. A place and a person to leave behind.

        I have learned over the years to change my processes. I still often hate myself and think self-destructive thoughts, but I never hurt myself or even seriously entertain those thoughts—when I think about hurting myself a little beacon flashes saying, “This is not the core of me the Best part of me, this is the damaged part I am excising.”

        I have learned over many decades of struggling, different coping mechanisms which are more positive—and even so, I have to admit, I am scarily close to fallen far and hard. I have had a lot of luck and a lot of friends—well, more accurately a few very good friends—who help keep me balanced.

        I want to help others get from wherever they are to a better place—even if it is only a little better, whatever I can do.

        If you still hurt yourself … well, that is sad, not for me but for you. If I feel bad about it is empathetic—it is my understanding that You are in pain … and knowing that there is probably nothing I can do.

        If I can offer one word, one thought, one bit of hope anywhere though … I sort of need that for me to bear living with myself. After all I have done and all I have put everyone through, the way I can feel less than useless and worthless now is to take what I have learned, and to take the gifts I have been given, and to share them with others.

        I am sorry if I am a clumsy gift-giver. I am really bad at human interaction. But I really do try from my heart. And no matter what you do or do not do to cope, I hope I can always find it in my heart to offer something good to you.

  2. Never think you are a clumsy gift-giver. You come across as a lovely, caring person. I can’t know the pain you felt with a girlfriend who needed to hurt herself. Many decades ago I took an overdose that left me unconscious for three days. I was told that my then boyfriend had sat by me for those 3 days. He was devastated by the event and felt the need to end our relationship.
    Because of ASD I can come across as blunt, sometimes rude. This is one reason why I find it so much easier to write poetry, and why I draw and use creativity to express myself. Also, Borderline Personality Disorder makes me see rejection and abandonment at every turn.
    I feel very positive about our conversation. Perhaps my poem struck deep into your vulnerability, and you felt a connection that led you to express your true concern for me as a fellow wanderer. I so admire you, what you stand for, and how you are striving to make the world a better, safer, kinder place.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. This poem speaks truths and something I have been far more familiar with than I would have liked. Putting in words is definitely a way of obtaining different perspectives.

    1. Thank you for reading my blog and for reaching out with your own thoughts. I have found that writing gives me a direct link with inner emotions and is way less full-on that my images. Please keep writing and sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: