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  • Writer's pictureJack

Self Harm

This is probably the most embarrassing blog post in this series I've had to write yet.

I'm forty six years old so I shouldn't really get embarrassed by things any more but nevertheless I do slightly.

This painting is about a point in my life roughly twenty years ago, although it only feels like five.

I'd been getting black out drunk and taking drugs for a while.

I could be accused of oversharing but I wouldn't really go into what events led me to be such a fuck up, the sort of person who needed to get wrecked every night, but whatever base reasons there were, it all boils down to not being able to cope with the usual negative emotions like guilt, fear, depression, anxiety and self loathing and feeling like a coward for not daring to kill myself, all the usual stuff.

In these paintings and blog posts exploring strange and troubled memories I have never included the worst things to happen to me and the worst people I've met as I don't think they deserve the attention.

I was holding down a job at this time as I always did but drank, snorted speed and smoked weed before even going to work in the morning, then I'd self medicate during the day and as soon as work was done I'd drink myself into oblivion, then rinse and repeat, I did this for years.

Ok so here is the embarrassing part, at some point I started to self harm.

Usually one thinks of teenagers when it comes to self harming but I was in my mid twenties and supposedly a man. You could say I'd been self harming since my early teens by the way in which I approached the intake of alcohol and drugs. I was hospitalised from drinking when I was twelve.

Anyway, so I actually started harming myself by cutting myself or burning my self with cigarettes', well spliffs to be accurate. It always happened when I was black out drunk, then even though I had no memory of the night before, I'd notice the cuts of the burns and the memory of doing it would vaguely come back. I still have no recollection of why it started.

I remember feeling that it was satisfying and relieving. When I would burn myself I would do it very slowly. I'd take a long drag of a spliff so that it would really light up then slowly push it into my skin, watching it sink and and smelling the burning flesh. Writing that down now sounds a bit morbid.

When I cut myself I'd do it slowly. I suppose the alcohol and drugs must have numbed the pain a little but I remember it being excruciating but I'd smile and feel it fully and it somehow made me feel better.

One day I woke up and there was blood everywhere. I felt shocked and confused, I thought for a moment maybe I'd got on the wrong side of someone on the way home from the pub and been attacked. I saw the brown tape wrapped around my arm and then the memory of the night before seeped in. As usual I couldn't remember anything except the moment of hurting myself, slowly slicing myself.

Then another memory came in of my girlfriend at the time walking an and screaming and crying shouting 'what have you done?'. Oops. Looking back I think how did that poor woman deal with me, I remember she did persuade me to go to therapy, which was nice.

I plucked up the courage to look under my make-shift bandage, I had to cut it off because it was all stuck.

When I saw what was underneath I nearly fainted and then threw up. It was disgusting, I'd cut my self too deep, I'd really done it this time, what an idiot.

I remember thinking it looked like a Muppet's mouth on my arm. It was nearly an inch wide and deep in the middle and about three and a bit inches long. My girlfriend was trying to persuade me to go to hospital but I just couldn't see how I'd explain it without making up some elaborate lie. So we decided to use loads of plasters to hold the wound closed and then wrap bandages and tape around it, after cleaning it with antiseptic of course.

I'd have to change the dressings and clean it every day, the plasters never held that well and it took more than six weeks for it to start to heal. I never got it to close up properly but I was fascinated with how my body could grow itself a whole new elongated triangle of flesh. Looking back, I think why didn't I just 'Rambo' it and use a needle and thread, 'Der!'

I didn't cut myself again after that, but I carried on burning myself for a while, I can't remember when or how that stopped.

I was pretty well paid at the time and so I did start going to therapy but then my life kind of spiraled out of control and I left my girlfriend, moved from south to north London so lost touch with my therapist. I did that a few times, started therapy, went more out of control than usual, moved to a different part of London and lost touch with my therapist.

Therapy seemed to bring stuff to the surface and I'd go a bit crazy, I did like it though, I mean nobody listens to me in general so to get to have someone sit there whilst I talk about my favourite subject...... me, is ace!

So yes eventually the self harming did stop but I still have the embarrassing scars twenty years later. I am a bit of a late bloomer, it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I finally stopped loathing myself as much and learnt to deal with my emotions better. (I feel like I've written that sentence in a previous blog post, forgive me please).

I've fallen off the wagon a few times since then but it's never that bad these days, I'm generally OK. I tell you what though, it's a constant struggle to keep working on ones self, but it's better than staying a fuck up.

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