I’ve been thinking about sending this in for a long time. And of course, now that I’m sitting down and writing, every poetic cliché has escaped me, probably for the better. Because let me tell you, there is nothing poetic about the things I struggled through. There is no beauty in pain. There is no beauty in self-damnation and self-hatred. There is no beauty in wishing you hadn’t woken up. Trust me, I know. People tend to discredit my story because I am young, but please understand that my youth makes this issue all the more important.
I began hurting myself when I was twelve years old. Twelve. That awkward age where you’re expected to start growing up, yet everyone still treats you like a baby. Looking back now, I was like a baby with little innocence. My parents had just divorced, my older brother was in jail for a drug problem, and my younger brother was getting tested for a brain tumor. I had just started 7th grade, which is full of mean preteen boys and girls who prey on anyone different. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually have a wonderful family and great friends, and I did even then. But from where I stood, the bad outweighed the good, and I had no way of coping.
I began to cut myself. I remember the day so vividly, because it changed me. Over the next year, it went from cutting to bruising myself too. I got bullied for being “fat,” and so I starved myself. At one point, I lost about 25 pounds in 3 months. I over-exercised. I attempted suicide. I failed; thank God.
By freshman year, I was still suicidal and self-harming. But I heard of this thing called The Butterfly Project, and I wanted to try it. After my worst self-harm experience, something fell over me, and I concluded that this had to stop.
And so I fell back into my faith, I leaned on music, and I got support from my friends. By the time I was 4 months clean, my mom found out. I was devastated because I had never wanted her to know. I felt like I was supposed to be the “good” kid of the family who didn’t worry my parents. My mom cleared things up for me. She didn’t expect me to be perfect, and she was only sorry she didn’t know. Things continued to get better.
Recovery is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The first 6 months were so incredibly difficult. I kept my favorite band, All Time Low, on repeat for the worst days. I had scripture and best friends to cheer me on. Eventually, it got better. Easier. It seemed the further I got from self harm, the closer I got to my true self.
My goal was to have more good days than bad days. Now I see beauty in every day. Even the bad days have moments I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Now I’m here, writing to you, over 2 years self-harm free, a youth and worship leader at my church with a wonderful family, an amazing group of friends, a new-found love for the little things, and a growing love for myself. I am happy. I chose to get better, and I did, my friends. I really did.
So the beauty is not in the pain. It is not in the torture you inflict upon yourself or others. Suffering is not poetic. But there is beauty in the comeback. Beauty in dusting off your hands and scraped up knees and starting fresh. Beauty is asking for help. Beauty is looking back and saying “Hey, I did it.”
There is beauty in loving yourself. That’s where it all starts. You do not learn to love yourself because you are beautiful, you are beautiful because you love yourself. I love myself. I love you.
You and I both; regardless of our past, our self harm, our depression, our tears and heartbreak, are so worth loving. And that is beautiful.
Written and loved on by Evangeline Sonnier