This is a very touchy subject for me because I’m very embarrassed about the things I did, the way I acted, but I feel like a lot of others have the same problems and struggles and I figured I’d tell them they’re not the only ones.
Body, femininity and body image are things which fundamentalists focus on in their own, special way. I know of many many girls who struggle in some way with their own bodies and their femininity and end up having an eating disorder of some sort because of that. I feel for all the girls and women who have been at that point or are still. I was lucky that I never developed this very serious and deadly disease.
I had a completely different one. When people talk about self-destructive behaviour or inflicting pain to your own body, cutting is usually the first thing on their minds. Whenever I heard the word “cutting”, I thought those people needed God and didn’t have a connection to him and that they could be saved from their inner demons. I was great at ignoring the fact that I had the very same problem. I never cut myself, that seemed absurd to me. Why would you hurt the healthy body God gave you like that? Visible for everyone. The method I used was much easier to practice, much less visible, but as I later found out is quite common among the self-destructive behaviour types.
My parents, who followed to Pearl’s advice, spanked in this very Pearl-esque way, where the children are talked to prior to the spanking, told that the parents hate to hurt them but they have no other choice. That it hurts them more than it would hurt me. This particular sentence inflicted tons of guilt on me. I hated to be spanked or hit, obviously, but I loved it at the same time. I needed it. I hated myself so much, so deeply, that I sometimes wished my Dad would really hurt me, really beat me, in order to be free of that guilt. It’s very hard to explain how I felt.
I started this self-destructive behaviour around the age of 8 or 9. I remember that my mother cried a lot because she felt overwhelmed by all the kids. She cried even more when there was a spanking, and they were daily business at our house. My Dad would hit me and I still hated myself for doing this to them. Once the spanking was over, I was given some quiet time to calm down and freshen up. I went to the bathroom and cried endlessly, not that much because of the spanking but because I felt my mistake wasnt punished properly. I felt the need to feel more pain, and I didn’t want to burden my parents with spanking me. I decided to do it myself. I looked for some sort of thing, a hard thing, to cause myself more pain and to remove the guilt I felt. It could be anything really, like a hairbrush, a stick, a wooden spoon, whatever was at hand. At first I started hitting myself on the legs and thighs until it really hurt. For some time, it was enough to do this three or four times to remove the guilt, but as I grew older, more and more pain was needed to calm my conflicts.
Sometimes I didn’t do it for weeks, then I did it every day, then stopped it for some weeks again. It really depended on my emotional situation. I never felt like I was doing something wrong. After all, I wasnt cutting myself, so I was much better than those people. What I did was right. It was the holy spirit leading me to do this. How else could I feel so much relief in it?
Time passed and my self punishments on my legs grew harder, more severe, more painful. One day my mother saw my bruised legs after a really tough session and asked me what that was all about. I told her I fell really bad playing outside in the garden and didn’t realize I was so bruised up.
I had to hide it much better, find a better way to do it. More pain, less bruises. It took me just a few days to figure out a part of my body where nobody could see my bruises. My head. All the bruises and bumps would be hidden under my long hair. I felt like I had found the holy grail. It was the perfect plan. But it didn’t last long. The pain inflicted by my hands beating on my head was really severe, and I was 12 or 13 at that point. But this pain wasnt enough. I went back to anything hard to increase the pain level. And when that wasnt enough anymore, I really hated myself. I hated myself for having no way of causing such severe pain as to fulfill my need for feeling really repentant. This anger caused me to be even harder on myself, try it any way I could. I went on for minutes, hitting myself on the head with a hairbrush and crying, and it wasnt enough pain. I started tearing my hair out and screaming at myself, the most vicious things I could imagine, using words which would set me up for another spanking if my parents heard me say them.
I remember a day where I had gotten a spanking and it didn’t satisfy my need to feel real pain. I sat in the bathroom, hitting my head with a hairbrush, not feeling the pain I wanted to feel, shrieking out in shrill screams then cursing at myself. You are a piece of shit, everybody hates you, you are worthless, you can’t do anything, you will go to hell and marry the devil and God will laugh at you, your parents hate you, you’re going to hell anyway so kill yourself right now and release them from this burden, you piece of dirty dog shit. I whispered these things to myself in a snakelike manner so my parents wouldn’t hear, but they certainly heard the screaming. My Dad came knocking on the door, telling me that I needed to stop the screaming or else I’d get another spanking. I hushed up quickly and answered “Yes Dad” as cheerful as I could. I started tearing my hair out, hitting myself with everything that wasnt nailed to the ground, and it didn’t satisfy, so I hit my head against the wall, hoping it will finally start bleeding so I could stop. But it didn’t bleed. It never did. After 15 or 20 minutes, I gave up. I was defeated. I couldn’t cause enough pain. My head was dizzy, spinning and painful, but it still wasnt enough.
Once I was 15 or 16, I realized what I was doing wasn’t normal or appropriate. I stopped myself from doing it, not because I wanted to but because It made me feel even more guilty and worthless. I still felt the need to do it, but I ignored the urge as well as I could. It didn’t always work but it did most of the time.
Only after I turned more rebellious, particularly in my courtship times and after, I started really thinking about it and realized that I shouldn’t have treated myself that way, because it wasn’t my fault. I blamed my parents for not helping me, for making me feel that way and for never even bothering about my emotions. Until this day, I’m really angry at them that they made me so angry at myself. Remembering how much anger and hate I felt towards myself still troubles me.
This sort of behaviour is a serious issue and certainly needed treatment at that time. I thought it was harmless but I was just lucky. I could have severely hurt myself any time, by accident. I’m really glad I could close this chapter of my life and now I can look back at it, though with pain, but also with happiness that I got out of it so easily, without permanent physical damage. I can still understand why I acted like this, but I would never do it again. I hope that, if some people who read this are in the same or a similar situation, they will know that they’re not the only ones and that it’s something you can actually work on and overcome.