Sleeveless

A Note on Success

N.b. I can’t actually do the Rubiks…

Every time I show my scars, I am telling a part of my story. Other people have described a similar experience, of people looking at them differently, the way that you look at a character in a story differently each time something new about them is revealed.

One thing I am very aware of is how my story can be perceived. For some people, I can see my scars make them uneasy. Maybe this is because I struck them as “normal”, and showing my scars makes me seem less so.

For others, or sometimes for the very same people, I can see that I am perceived as a “success story.” I don’t hurt myself anymore; my behaviour is “normal”; I have, and can hold, a job. I am, for these people, a picture of someone who has come through on the other side, scathed but not ruined. I am more of an “us” than a “them.” I notice this because people make comments about “them” in front of me without blinking. They can see that I have scars, but they don’t think I am like the others. I’m different, they think. I’m OK.

While I am grateful and happy that I can now behave normally and hold down a job, I am also wary of this perception of success. At work recently I overheard someone say it was a pity that “most of these people can only be treated… it doesn’t go away.” For many people, myself included, it’s true that it doesn’t go away. I don’t believe ongoing treatment is a marker of non-success. I am also uncomfortable with the idea that if I am a success story, others actively self-harming may be considered to be failing.

Self-harm is not a failure. Every day that you survive, you have succeeded.

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