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  • Writer's pictureJaye Gaff

The ways we punish ourselves

I shy away from talking about the fact that I punish myself because it's not nice to think about and it's scary to admit. Once I admit it I know I have to put the steps in place to make real changes. And I hate making changes. But, I wondered, how many people punish themselves and a) don't realise it or b) know what they're doing but don't admit it because they're embarrassed? How many people don't change because saying the words out loud is too daunting?

I don't want that...

Punishment 101

  1. Pick the skin on my lips until they bleed

  2. Pick my cuticles and nails until they bleed

  3. Eat too much

  4. Starve myself

  5. Punch or slap myself to stop the bad thoughts

These are my current punishments. Ones I can't quite let go off. I used to self-harm. I used to adore the feeling of pressing scissors into my flesh. As I've gotten older and healed I've been able to let the self-harm go. For the most part. But I still pick with the aim to injure. I still peel my nails until they're so short that my fingers and toes throb. I like to make myself bleed.

I used to punish myself by cutting my hair -- just wildly hacking at it. I wanted to look as ugly as I felt.

Mostly, I've been able to stop these things because of B. Because I didn't want my daughter to grow up with that. I like to think I have pretty good self control but there are things I don't think I'll ever be able to quit.

When I gorge myself I think -- you deserve this pain and when I starve myself I think depriving my body is just the retaliation it needs.

A therapist once told me hitting yourself to stop the negative thoughts is okay. Because it means you're trying to smack those things away, that you don't want to think them. And I get that. But... I also want to stop hitting myself because it solves nothing. The only thing I achieve by punishing myself is making something hurt outside my body. That feels good. An outside feeling that I can say this is why. But punishing myself is not good. For me or for my family. They need better. I need better.

But I'm not sure I can stop.

I'm not sure I want to.

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