When I see that title, it still shocks me that my child was one — a cutter. Before I share with you her journey from being a cutter, I just wanted to let you know that I asked her if I could share her story and she gave me full permission to do so. This is something that is so personal to her that I did not want to do it without her knowledge.
We moved in 2011 to a nice house in the country. I remember the first time I saw scratches on her arm. I asked her what happened and she quickly told me she had scratched it on the fence while climbing over. In my innocence as a mother I believed her because my 13 year old daughter had never done anything other than be a sweet and loving child. Sure she had anger issues, but at 13, most kids do because they are going through that time of body changes, etc. She had never lied to me, stolen anything, or been rude and ugly to others. Yet — she had a hidden secret that only she knew about. She hid her secret beneath a bunch of hand made bracelets.
The day I discovered her self injury habit is a day that I will always remember for the rest of my life. Something about her seemed off — very moody and sad and it worried me. I hopped on twitter to see if she had been posting anything about what she was feeling and while she did not come right out and say she was cutting herself, I saw tweets that told me that was what she was doing. My heart ached for my baby girl because this was something so big and I had never in my life dealt with it. Thankfully she was at a friend’s house staying the night so her daddy and I sat down and started talking and praying trying to make sense of it all.
We asked ourselves questions like:
Were we bad parents? Did we cause this?
What else had she subjected herself to?
So many questions weighed on our minds. We stayed up all night researching how to deal with cutting and self injury. We found helpful information online and I am so thankful for what we read before we talked to her, because if I had been allowed to just talk to her, what I would have said would have made things SO much more worse for her and for us. Yes — there is a special way to talk to children who are cutting.
I called my friend at 1 in the morning and told her what was going on and to please keep an eye on her and that we would be there to talk to her the next day. As we pulled into the driveway the next day, my heart was pounding. When I saw her, all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around her and hold my hurting baby girl. We spoke for a long time that morning and as she shared with me about her addiction, the walls and barriers broke as we held each other crying.
Cutting herself was her way of dealing with emotional stress that she had no other way of knowing how to deal with. By cutting, she could focus on that pain and not the pain in her heart she was feeling.
She shared with me that she hated what she was doing to herself. It had been going on for several months and she was sick of hurting herself. During her time of self cutting, she shared with me that she had thoughts of suicide and just killing herself and not having to deal with all the issues that were going on in her head. Knowing that I could have lost my little girl frightened me beyond anything I could have ever imagined, and God used that as a wake up call to me as a parent.
It has now been over a year and a half since that time and I am proud to say that my daughter has been healed of her cutting addiction. For a few months after we found out, she struggled with wanting to do it again, but she kept remembering God’s love and our love for her, and she found a way to beat it. Not every child is as blessed as mine. While her time was short with cutting, many kids deal with it daily and for many years —without anyone every knowing what is going on.
Signs Your Child May Be Cutting
If you think your child may be self harming themselves, here are a few signs you can look for:
- Always wearing long sleeves or long pants at unusual times during the year (ex summer time with long pants or long sleeves)
- Small, linear cuts. “The most typical cuts are very linear, straight line, often parallel like railroad ties carved into forearm, the upper arm, sometimes the legs,” Rosen tells WebMD.
- Unexplained cuts and scratches, particularly when they appear regularly.
- Mood changes like depression or anxiety, out-of-control behavior, changes in relationships, communication, and school performance. Kids who are unable to manage day-to-day stresses of life are vulnerable to cutting
I think what started Kayla’s issues was because we had a major change in our home before we moved. For about 6 months I went back to work outside the home. She had just turned 13 and really had a hard time dealing with that. I did not have as much time for her and her daddy and I ignored her a lot. Kids NEED their parents. During this time, I was not there for her, and because she does not always handle change well, she found a way to cope — not one I would have chosen for her, but then again, I was not around for her so she found her own way to cope with the change that she did not like.
What Can a Parent Do
If you think your child is cutting, do not come at them as if you are attacking them. That will set them on the defense and they will cut more. Talk to them as a concerned parent. Let them know that they are not in trouble and you will not judge or punish them. With Kayla, we basically just loved her as God would love her and let Him do the change in her. We became available to talk at any given time she needed and we prayed with her quite a bit.
If your child is cutting or you think they are cutting and you need someone to talk to, please email me. I would love to offer you encouragement and to pray with you while you figure out what is best for you and your family. (firstname.lastname@example.org)