When I was in high school, I used to cut myself. Sad. Angry. Bored. Blasting Brand New, The Used, My Chemical Romance, or another popular screamo band, I’d take the blade I kept hidden in a little tin box and press it firmly against my right wrist or thigh until streams of blood appeared. This was more than a call for attention or a bonding activity between me and my friends. This was an outward expression of some serious internal pain—a pain I could not quite understand, but certainly recognized. I didn’t know where this pain originated or why, but I knew what I felt was real, and I hated anyone who invalidated those feelings. No one understood: not my parents, not my sisters, and not even some of my best friends at the time. I felt lost. I felt alone. And that pain became more and more unbearable.
“My boyfriend cheated on me.” “My girlfriend is embarrassed to be seen with me.”
“He said he’d hook up with her when he’s done with me.” “He got really angry.” “But I still love her.”
In 72 hours, at least five students have shared less than stellar truths about their relationships. And while their overall concerns differ, one thing links them together: the idea that it’s all natural. That everyone goes through rough patches. That sometimes people lose their temper. That sometimes people cheat. That any form of mistreatment or abuse is normal because “at least I’m in a relationship, right?” Wrong.
Growing up, I often felt as though my knees were buckling under immense amounts of pressure. I’m not saying I didn’t have an amazing life filled with some pretty amazing people, but there were times when the need to be perfect outweighed everything. When required perfection controlled every movement, every thought, and every situation, the worst thing was what happened when I fell a little short. Unable to take the pressure, unable to fail, I used to turn to the only friend I thought I had—a metal blade. I found comfort in the one thing I could control. Now this life I used to live was many moons ago, but the saddest thing is knowing that we still live in a world where that metal blade can be substituted for an eating disorder, alcohol abuse, or any other harmful addiction. For some, it’s a momentary release from the darkness or even a reclamation of power, but the truth is that that “solace” we think we’ve found is only a temporary fix. In order to truly heal, I needed to get at the root of the problem, a problem that was beyond me. So what do you do when the source is a force beyond your control?