Welcome to my gallery.
I am an aspiring art teacher, and I am currently enrolled in school. I dabble in all sorts of mediums as you can see when you look at my gallery. Self expression is very important to me, and I hope to spread that importance through my art and my teaching career.
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My 8 Year Struggle With Self-Harm
I struggled with self-harm and self-mutilation for 8 years. I started the in 2nd grade. My mom had just moved my brother and me again. This was the third school we’d been to since we had started kindergarten, and my brother was only in 1st grade. We left our house in the middle of the night so that our Dad wouldn’t know. If he had, he might have threatened to kill himself in front of us again. We went to my grandmother’s house and stayed for a week or two. Then we moved into a new house several towns over and started at a new school. It was the middle of the school year, and my first day the entire 2nd grade was going on a field trip to the Creative Discovery Museum. I stayed at the school with another teacher. It wasn’t long after that my grandmother passed away.
One day during school, I saw some boys playing with a safety pin. They were putting it just under their skin on their thumbs so it looked like it was glued to their thumb. I thought, “I want to try that when I get home.” I have always been an arts and crafts person. I had my own needles and safety pins. I started sewing when I was 4 with my grandmother. So, when it was time for bed, I remembered that I wanted to try it. I couldn’t sleep until I at least saw how it worked. I did it to every finger on each hand, both feet, and my toes. I thought it was fun and such a weird feeling it was to have something just under the top layer of skin like that. I just looked at my hands for a few moments after that. Studying the lines. I got down to where the wrist meets the bottom of the hand. The lines in that part looked like a stitch my grandmother would do on her sewing machine. I wanted to try it with thread, so I did. I threaded my needle and did the stitches. Just under the skin and following the pattern that was already there. I slept with it like that. The next morning I tugged the knot and pulled the thread out. I couldn’t stop thinking that I wanted to try it again, but this time I wondered what it would feel like if I used just the needle and pulled up ripping open the skin. I tried it on my fingers first and decided that I had liked the feeling and proceeded to do it to my wrists. There wasn’t any blood but it didn’t feel quite the same. I decided that I was done for now.
Days go by, and I don’t do anything until the night where I begin to miss my Dad and my grandmother. I can’t sleep and I start crying in my bed. It was way past midnight. The moon was high outside my bedroom window, and everybody was asleep. I was playing with the needle in my fingers and decided that what I was doing wasn’t enough for whatever reason. I lay down on my bed and pull up my shirt, I begin to carve out the letter “L” in my chest to the right of my sternum with the needle. I proceed to the “O”, the “V”, and finally the “E”. I do not remember how long it took. I cried the entire time, and honestly it didn’t bleed much. I feel asleep shortly after. Nobody suspected a thing. I dressed and bathed by myself, so nobody ever saw. This was the beginning of the downwards spiral that would continue on until high school.
I never realized that what I was doing was unhealthy, and nobody ever saw any of the marks that I left on myself. Well, not until one day in middle school. Her name was Hazel. She sat behind me in my honors math class. I always wore my black Hurley zip up hoodie. She spotted the marks I left on my wrist from a day or so ago while I had my sleeves pulled up and asked me if I had done that to myself for attention. I felt my body go white, like I had seen a ghost and replied with a quick no and yanked my sleeve down despite the heat in the classroom. When I got home that day all I could think about was “Why would I do this for attention? Doesn’t she know I usually keep them covered?” I got upset with the whole thing and did it again, but this time just below my panty line. I saw a movie on tv about a girl who cut herself and then I realized I’d have to hide it or I’d be taken to a crazy house where nobody would understand me. I also bought a book at a book fair we were having in school called “Cut”. I have no idea who wrote it. It was also about a girl who cut herself. I read it many, many times.
I can remember laying in my bed looking out the window at complete peace, and then looking around my room with “x-ray vision”. I didn’t have x-ray vision of course, but because of the story in that book, I had hid several blades in my room. I had one between the poles of where the bunk beds I had connected. Another taped in the back of the top drawer in my bedside table. One taped to the back of a drawing I had taped to the wall. One under my computer monitor. (That thing was heavy.) And I had one more that I kept in a wallet purse. I didn’t see anything wrong with any of that. Plus, I was an artist and I had tens of thousands of pencil sharpeners, so it’s not like it was necessary to hid them. It wasn’t long after this moment that I decided that I wanted to quit cutting myself.
I realized that this action I had been doing had become something I’d do when I was bored. And that sent a red flag up really fast in my head and I knew that it was unhealthy and I needed to stop. At the time I had a boyfriend named Mario; I was 13 and he was 14. He was a good guy who loved me, and I loved him. It was my first real relationship that lasted over a year. We played paintball with his family and would sleep cuddled together when we stayed at each other’s houses. During this time, my seizure disorder appeared again. I began having seizure after seizure until I was put back on a medicine. I had been seizure free since I was 4 years old. This was when my habit got the worst but slowed down tremendously, and I am pretty sure it was because of Mario. We discovered that we had both been cutting for a while and we made the promise to each other that we wouldn’t cut again. And if we did, we had to tell the other person. One day I got upset and carved the 2nd set of letters into my skin. It was his name, Mario. I cried when I told him. This upset him, I know why now. Although I didn’t understand it then. So he burned the first 4 letters of my name into his ankle. I honestly think it was to prove a point to me. That was the absolute most emotional pain I think I have ever felt regret for in my entire life. The shame and guilt that I felt from causing him so much pain to both hurt himself and from now understanding what it felt like to be the cause behind such an action… It is still indescribable. I still get teary eyed when I think about it. I still feel the emotional pain from it. I regret it. Somebody you love does not deserve that anguish, and I caused him that pain. We ended up breaking up when I moved from Graysville to Soddy Daisy.
My struggle to quit continued after I moved to Soddy. I started at a new high school in Hamilton County where I didn’t know anybody. I ended up throwing all my blades away when we moved. A new start. I was excited to go to a small school where I needed an interview to get in. My first day was great and I met the person that would help me stop once and for all. We were friends for a whole year before she found out about my addiction. I still wore my same black Hurley zip up hoodie and again, I had made the mistake of rolling the sleeves up. I had a cut near my elbow that was several days old, and some marks under my hand where I had done the stitch thing again. We were drawing together, and since she was sitting to my left, she saw the stitch marks. She asked me to pull my sleeve up, and I figured that I was busted anyways so why not. I pulled it half way up my forearm. She just gave me this scowling look. She said “all the way.” I don’t know what made me listen to her, but I did. So she saw both marks. From then on out, she wouldn’t ever let me put my hood up, and she never left me alone. She never made me take my jacket off and never told anybody else. Even when this girl named Shelly asked me why I never took my jacket off in the summer, she just smiled and said, “That’s Livi.” I’d even run laps with it on.
One night my step dad called the cops on my mom and the cops came and it was categorized as a domestic violence charge, so somebody had to go to jail. My mom went to jail. I grabbed all my razors and called Rae. When I got there, I gave her all of my blades with tears in my eyes and told her to throw them away. I didn’t want to let them control me anymore. I was stronger than a cold lifeless piece of metal. I slipped up a few times and cut myself after that. But I didn’t keep blades around for comfort any longer. I want to say it was 3 times total. She was upset with me every time, but she never gave up on me.
Not once did I want to die. I didn’t cut myself in hopes of bleeding to death. It was a way to cope with the emotional pain that I was having to deal with on my own. My dad didn’t want Trevor or me, us. My grandmother was gone. My mom didn’t care. I was going through puberty. I was bullied. My seizures came back. Why me? Why and how do I deal with all these things? Well, that was my solution. No, it wasn’t healthy. Yes, it was a dangerous way to cope. Do I regret it? No. I only regret causing pain to others, like Max. It is easy to doctor physical pain and injuries. You take care of it. Clean it, put ointment on it, bandage it, and repeat. You can’t do those things with emotional pain and injuries.
After I gave my blades away and made the conscious decision to stop this cycle, I decided that I was going to the opposite of hurting myself. I thought about it and I came up with the obvious opposite of loving myself. I got into make-up, playing with my hair, and into fashion. (If you can call that fashion.) I wanted to show my body physical love rather than hurt. Instead of crying myself to sleep begging myself to let me cut myself, I put that energy to use by exploring my body. Yes, I still cried and it was awkward, even by myself. But I forced myself to learn to love myself. I told myself, “I love you.” In the mirror. And eventually, it became more than just a lie. It became real. I did love myself and I had self-confidence and self-esteem. I didn’t care what others thought of me. I loved me and that’s all that matters.
** If you are struggling, talk to me. I will help you. I will not judge you.**