Not just cuts & bruises

Every fibre of my being tells me I can’t ask for anything that’ll make me feel good, because I don’t deserve to.

I have a Mean Voice in my head, a dry cold voice that speaks to me every minute of every day.

I can be excited or inspired or angry or sad, or be having an awesome day, it doesn’t matter. Mean Voice doesn’t make allowances. She has one job — to point out all of my failures (past or potential) and flaws (real or imaginary) to me — and one hell of a work ethic. She notices the weird looks and fake smiles of people around me, or even just the micro-expressions on their faces, all their subtle tells, and is vigilant in making me aware of them before offering her theory about what they mean — and it’s always that the person dislikes or even hates me.

”And why wouldn’t they”, Mean Voice adds conversationally, as she treats me to a montage of Every Bad Thing Ida Has Ever Done And All The Times She Failed At A Thing projected onto the screen of my mind. ”You’re awful.”

That’s the conclusion she always arrives at regardless of the situation. That is the perpetual moral of her narrative.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, my body conspires with her and I get a craving for unflavoured instant noodles and eat nothing else for days at a time; my skin crawls and itches and won’t stop even when I draw blood; my throat seizes up and my stomach plummets when I receive a compliment, smile or gentle touch; I overthink punctuation in text messages and create conflicts where there were none, then cry my eyes out because I don’t like conflict; I refuse to receive oral from my partner, then lie awake in the dark and fantasize about it, feeling a longing so strong it’s physically painful.

Here’s the silverlining: I know what this is now. I know that just because I’ve thrown away my razorblades and stopped punching walls, I didn’t automatically stop self-harming.

That’s all it is. The toxic relationships, the sleepless nights, the skipped meals, the workout mania, the self-sabotage and depriving myself of everything good, or chasing it away again if it still manages to find me, those are all just invisible cuts and bruises.

And now that I know — I can work on it.