The Siren Song of Self-Harm

These past few weeks have been hard, especially Tuesday. Tuesday was a hellish day because it marked 4 years of dealing with the Beast that is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. You would think that after some time, especially with the introduction and implementation of coping mechanisms and breathing techniques, the Beast would get bored and go away. Nope! That ugly thing is still with me. I hate it. I hate what it does to me, my relationships, my worldview, and hell, even my writing, but that’s not why I’m penning this. This is not a complaining post. Here, I wanna show you something: Grace still exists for those who need Him most. (I know you probably thought grace was a thing. Grace, like love, is a person. For those of you wondering “Lydia, what are you talking about?” just keep reading, I’ll explain as we go on).

Hearing the Siren Song

For the past few days, I have heard what I call the “siren song” of my scissors. A siren, according to Greek mythology, was a dangerous half-fish, half-human creature who lured sailors to their doom with their beautiful, enchanting voices and music. (Think mermaid but evil). As legend has it, the only way for a sailor to resist the siren was to either put beeswax in his ears, so he couldn’t hear the disastrous song, or have his crewmen tie him to the mast of the ship so he could not jump off of it and into the water when the siren’s song was heard.

Wanting to Jump Ship

So, what does Greek mythology have to do with grace and/or self-harm? I’m glad you asked. As previously noted, these past few days have been hard, not just because of PTSD but life in general. I am seemingly a constant ball of stress, depression, and anxiety. I’ll be honest, some of that is because of sin which makes things interesting. In my previous post, The Great Divorce, I said the following concerning my heart towards God:

I don’t actually believe God loves me… I am deeply and keenly aware of the fact that I don’t deserve His grace and I wish I did. I wish I could somehow, some way, prove myself worthy of His love.

I feel most often, concerning this particular reason, that punishment is needed. Even though Romans 8:1 says that there’s “no condemnation for those who are in Christ” this is a hard battle to fight. My thought process: The condemnation and guilt I feel, even after confession and repentance, isn’t enough of a reprimand so I’ll take matters into my own hand. After all, how could I possibly claim the title of “Christian” if I struggle to believe God about a fundamental truth like unconditional love?

And yet, God extends His grace.

Putting Beeswax in My Ears

Remember how I said earlier that grace is a person, and still exists for those who need Him most? This is where that’s relevant. God is the embodiment of every good thing on Earth. Love, grace, mercy, kindness, gentleness, etc. Yes, God gives grace but it is my opinion that He also is grace. God cannot give of Himself what He is not. And He has given me grace bountifully these past few weeks, by gently reminding me that His thoughts and ways are better than my thoughts and plans of self-harm.

I’m a creature of habit, I admit. When I self-harmed in the past, I always did it before I showered so I could make sure my cuts were cleaned and prevent them from getting infected. In a twisted way, it was a form of self-care, as I was forced to be gentle with myself to prevent future harm. And that was my intention, my dilemma, several times during the last two weeks, and especially Tuesday; and if I’m truly honest, even now as I write this.

Like a siren enticing a sailor to shipwreck with songs of sensual seduction, I hear my scissors calling me when I least expect it, on nights when the trauma memories and PTSD symptoms are more constant than lunar phases, and the reminders of past sin make me ashamed to look in the mirror.

When the siren’s song was luring me earlier, it was almost always at an inconvenient time. My parents would come home and I’d be afraid of getting caught, or I’d forget the scissors in my room, or something else would distract me. Maybe I’m thinking too much into this, but I feel like those instances were God’s way of tying me to the mast so to speak. I still heard the siren song, but I couldn’t jump ship. Even now, I hear my scissors calling me, but I also have worship music blaring out of my headphones. To remove the proverbial beeswax from my ears now would be deadly and have dire consequences.

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