Woke up yesterday morning looking like Harry Potter. Not because my hair was all messy and in need of a cut (although that, too, is true), but because I had two bright red scratches/cuts on my forehead.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In actual fact if anyone were to have looked closely at my forehead even prior to yesterday morning they would have been able to make out faint, almost lightning bolt shaped, scars in more than one place on the right hand side of my forehead. This is not a result of self-harm, which people tend to assume knowing my track record, but rather something I do when I’m either having nightmares about a very particular abuse situation, or when I’m re-living it in the form of a flashback. I scratch my forehead until the skin breaks, leaving these not-so-attractive scars. Without going into detail about this particular incident I know why I end up doing this. It’s not something I did at the time, but I can see why I do it now, years later re-experiencing it.
Now although the cuts on my forehead look pretty bad, they really aren’t. They really are the least of my worries. What does worry me is the fact that I’m having these dreams, and flashbacks, because I know that I tend not to deal well with them. At least not on my own.
Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that my experiencing flashbacks tend often to go hand in hand with a break in my therapy, almost as if being without that space to talk about things in therapy my psyche instead decides to act out, in the form of nightmares and flashbacks. Regulars may also have noted the triangular cycle of Therapy Break –> Flashbacks –> Self-Harm. In contrast, if I’m having therapy I don’t usually experience flashbacks (except if I am very stressed out about something else) and thus my need to self-harm tends to be minimal. Also, during those very stressful times when I am experiencing flashbacks even while I’m not on a therapy break, I am usually able to avoid turning to self-harm because I have a place to talk about the flashbacks and what they bring up.
During the last few therapy breaks I haven’t actually resorted to self-harm, despite sometimes suffering from flashbacks. I’ve managed to hold it together until A.’s return, somehow found a way to look past the immediate moment and focus on the fact that it’s not going to last forever. This time, for some reason, that’s not been the case. I have an idea of why that may be; there are a lot of things going on during this break which I haven’t had to deal with in other recent therapy breaks, and so I’m trying to not be too hard on myself about this failure, because I know that rarely serves me well.
Although I am disappointed in myself, I try to keep it in mind that this particular break has been different to other breaks, because of all the other things I’m also dealing with, on top of the nightmares and flashbacks. I’m also trying to remind myself that one slip doesn’t equate to being back to square one. It’s just a slip, it’s not a disaster.
That said, I am looking forward to A.’s return on Tuesday. A session is definitely due.
All the very best,