One of the worst parts of self-harm, for me anyway, is trying to think of a plausible lie to tell people when they ask what happened to me. For the most part, I try not to injure myself in places that will be obvious to other people. I am not always successful with this.
I think it has been four weeks since I self-harmed. Unless you count last weekend when I was so frustrated and consumed with anger I thought it would be a good idea to give my vehicle a nice, solid punch. I haven’t cut, but I did punch the dash board pretty hard. I did it sometime during the day last Saturday. My hand is still very sore and slightly swollen and bruised today, almost a full week later. Jay thinks that I broke my hand or knuckle. Maybe I did. All I know is that is aches if I don’t keep a brace on it.
Which leads me to my point: Wearing the brace on my hand draws attention to my injury. I only started wearing the brace yesterday because I didn’t want anyone to notice. I hate having to explain to people what happened. One would think coming up with a realistic lie and remembering all the details would be deterrent enough to keep me from hurting myself. Obviously it’s not.
Several months back, during a dissociative moment, I hurt myself on my forearm. It was a four to five inch long scrape. I didn’t mean to do it, and I don’t really remember doing it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I had a huge gash on my arm for several weeks. I thought that no one would notice when I went into work the next day. I was wrong. Almost EVERYONE noticed. And the ones who weren’t in the office to notice that day noticed the next day they were in. I made up some bullshit explanation of what happened. I said that I was walking on a mountain bike trail (there are a lot around here) in flip-flops, and that I lost my balance and dragged my arm down a tree branch as I was falling. I don’t think anyone believed me for a second, but what could they say? I don’t know if they thought I did it to myself, but I don’t think my explanation was convincing.
A few weeks later I was wearing a short sleeve shirt with very short sleeves. I had scratches on my upper inner arm. Any other shirt and they would have been covered. They didn’t look bad, but they drew notice. My supervisor was explaining something to me and glanced at my arm. The same arm that had the long gash a few weeks earlier. He asked what happened, and I told him that I had been playing with my dog and scrapped my arm on a tree branch. I told him I was a major klutz. If I had realized that the scratches could be seen when I was wearing that shirt, I would have thought of a more convincing lie. Or at least one that was different than the excuse I had used a few weeks earlier!
Lucky for me, only one person has asked me today about the brace on my hand. There have only been a handful of people in the office today, though, since it’s Friday and my supervisor isn’t in. The person who asked me what happened hadn’t been working here when I had the other visible marks. Good thing. I’m not very creative when it comes to lying on the spot. No, that’s not quite true. I’m not very creative when it comes to lying about my self-harm. That’s a more accurate statement. I told her that I was playing with my dog (again) and that I fell and bent my hand back. She believed me. I thought about telling people the truth: That I got mad about something and punched my car. Then I realized that would make me sound bat-shit crazy. “Normal” people don’t go around punching things because they are mad.
Hopefully this will be the last time I have to come up with a lie to excuse an injury. I haven’t felt the urge to cut since the last time I did almost four weeks ago. If I can keep this anger under control, I won’t have to think of reasons why my hand is always swollen and bruised, either. I think this weekend I am going to spend some time going through Marsha Linehan’s DBT workbook. Maybe when I’m feeling so enraged that all I want to do is hit something, I should try to use opposite action. Anything would be better than the way I have hurt myself in the past.