As parents, one of our primary responsibilities is to keep our children safe. It is instinctive and fundamental to who we are.
But what happens when the biggest danger to our child is herself? How do we protect them from that?
My daughter self-harms.
On more than one occasion I have coated her arms in antibacterial ointments and wrapped her like a mummy with gauze.
We’ve purged her room of hidden blades. We’ve raised awareness at school and with her friends’ parents on restricting access to pencil sharpeners, eye liner/lip liner sharpeners, razor, scissors, and knives. Yet she finds a way.
Experts say that self harm is a way of dealing with pain. I am told, by my daughter and mental health professionals, that hurting themselves on the outside masks the pain self-harmers feel on the inside.
As a mom, it is difficult for me to accept any reasons for my child to be harming herself. My instinct is to watch her like a hawk. To keep her in sight at all times, and to be constantly looking for things she may be using to cut herself.
It doesn’t matter how many times I am told that self-harmers aren’t generally suicidal – the thought of her putting a blade against strikes terror in my soul. I feel helpless. I am heartbroken. I know I can’t fix what is hurting inside of her. I know I can’t stop her from causing harm to herself.
Not being able to protect makes me feel like I am failing her.
And this shouldn’t be about me. It should be about her.
It should be about addressing her wounds – internally and externally.
It should be about helping her find a path to wellness. Helping her to see her value. Helping her to know she matters and the world is an amazing place because she is in it.
They say knowledge is power.
They say admitting there is a problem is the first step to fixing it.
Our family is armed with power and has taken the first step. The path seems long, arduous, and daunting.