My story (the abridged version)

I’m going to be honest right from the start. Life isn’t always easy. In fact, there are times when life really, really sucks. When I was a small kid, I was sexually abused by someone who came to the house. My parents divorced when I was five, and I grew up living with my mother and my brother. My brother was always the favourite, and quite frankly, my Mum found it really hard to cope with us on her own. It made her really angry when we didn’t behave, and she would hit us quite a bit. I retreated to my bedroom as I was growing up, seeing reading as an escape from the difficulties of being at home.

Although we went to church the weekends that we didn’t go to my fathers, my brother and I didn’t really grow up with an active faith, and as soon as my brother started to be old enough to stay at home by himself, he chose to do that. I sang in the choir, and for some reason, I was never allowed to stay behind. Somehow, I did believe in God, but he was a God who existed purely to answer my prayers and make life a little easier.

Funnily enough, all the reading I did didn’t equip me all that well for making friends at school, and I ended up being a bit of a loner. I would make friends only to break them again after a few months, never being quite sure what was wrong with me. Eventually I retreated into myself, and into the music rooms at school to pound away on a piano during my free hours.

One of my books had a character who became anorexic. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be hungry like that. But as I was growing older, I was becoming more and more aware of myself and my appearence, and I didn’t really like what I saw. I decided that if I could get thinner, somehow, all my problems might go away.

Oddly enough, the problems stayed as they were, with the occasional difficulty of a mother who could not understand why I didn’t want to eat and a brother who would make snide comments. So I hid myself as much as possible, eating only when I was being watched. I ended up tired and even more miserable than I had been to begin with, and although the adreneline gave me a massive high, it was deceptive as I think I lost any self-confidence that I had had, and most of my concentration to boot.

As I moved to sixth-form, I decided it was time for a fresh start. I was going to eat again. This lasted all of about 6 weeks, and then it was back to the old habits, with a new one added as the pressure of work started to mount: I started to self-harm. No matter what anyone said to me, I couldn’t stop, and my school even nearly threw me out because of it.

But then I had had some friends who were Christians who I only saw to do music things with. I wanted desperately to be like them as they were such nice people. And they seemed to have everything sorted. I had told them that I was a Christian  – I mean, I went to church, didn’t I? And it was because of them that I started going to our school Christian Union.

Soon, I discovered that actually, being a Christian is about far more than just going to church. That there is a loving God who sent his son to die for the things we have done wrong. That we can know him. And that there is nothing that we can do that will take us away from the love of God.

So I decided to follow Jesus. The next few years weren’t  always easy, but I definitely stopped hurting myself fairly soon after this decision. I decided that it just wasn’t worth it, and that it did not glorify God in any shape or form. I made new friends, and moved away to uni. Life was good.

But then I moved back nearer to my family again, and I was reminded that life could still be very difficult. Reminders of the abuse were still there and I still found it hard to explain my feelings to other people. As for being single at 25… I went through a dark phase, when all I wanted to do was hurt myself, and I couldn’t even explain why. Around other people I was mostly fine but sometimes I would just get so tense. And eventually, I gave in. I regretted it so much, but I did have to admit to myself that there was still something attracting me to hurt myself, even when I do now have a hope and a future.

I decided to seek the help of a counsellor, and together we have been working through some of the issues from my family and background. I am mostly ok now, but occasionally I still enter the dark place where everything inside me is screaming for me to hurt myself, and even more occasionaly I listen. I have strategies in place to help stop me, but the sad thing about self-harm is that those strategies only work if you actually want to not hurt yourself. But I do have people who care and people who listen and help me through, even when they aren’t even sure how to help me. And I never underestimate the power of prayer.

So as I’m moving away from the dark place, I thought it might be helpful for others to know my story and see where God has been working in me. I want to share some of the things that have helped me, and some of the advice that people have given me. Please come and join me on this journey!

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