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TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains themes/mention of self-injury and recovery.

"I have a lot of scars on my arms due to self harming and whenever I get confident enough to wear a short sleeved T-shirt my mam points out how marked they are and completely destroys my confidence again. No-one else mentions it and now I'm stuck with what to do; do I wear short sleeved things or hide my 'ugly arms' from view?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think you should talk to your mom about it, let her know how she’s making you feel. AND, I think you should continue to wear short-sleeved shirts.

The fact of the matter is, this is a part of your past. Maybe it’s not something you’re proud of, or something you care to harp on forever, but it is a part of you. NEVER let your past dictate the way you live in the present. You are who you are because of the things you’ve learned from who you used to be.

When people ask questions, try to answer them. It might take a while before you’re totally comfortable, but I think the more comfortable you are talking about your past, the more comfortable you will be putting on that short-sleeved shirt. Next time you put that shirt on and walk into the living room and your mom makes a comment, ask her if she wants to talk about and tell her EXACTLY how you feel. Tell her you are ashamed and self-conscious, but you’re trying to get to a place where you don’t feel that way anymore. Hopefully a conversation will help her understand you and where you’re coming from AND it’ll let her know you need her support.

Kristin Says:

I agree wholeheartedly with Dannielle, and I think that it is important to also think about why your mom is saying these things to you, so that it might be easier to understand her words as products of fear and confusion and not solely as harsh and hurtful judgements.

A lot of parents take on the responsibility for all of the feelings and experiences that their kids have… and so knowing that at a time in your life you were hurting so badly that you cut yourself may affect her in ways that she doesn’t even fully understand. She might still be stuck on the fact that she couldn’t help you enough to take away that hurt – and it might be coming out of her mouth in ways that sound unfeeling and rude… but with conversation you may be able to both get to a place of better understanding. So. Talk to her and talk to her not only about those scars, but about that time in your life. She may need to understand more to be able to forgive herself for your past experiences.

Insofar as your scars go, I understand that they draw a certain amount of attention and conversation, and I think it is wonderful that you are at a place where you feel comfortable enough to allow for those moments, those conversations, and that larger understanding of yourself. One of my very best friends on this earth has an arm covered with scars from her past as a cutter; those scars mark a horribly difficult time in her life that she was able to overcome. Her scars are no longer a source of shame, but rather a marker of her growth and strength. We all have stories and struggles and marks and imperfections that tell our stories. Those are the things that make us human, and that make us beautiful.

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