What to Say When Partner Asks About Self-Harm Scars
Make sure you're ready to talk about it.
How to Handle Your Partner Asking About Your Self-Harm Scars
Trigger warning for anyone currently struggling with self-harm.
It was during my sophomore year of college when I started cutting myself. At the time, I was at a very dark point in my life. My depression was at its worse and I spent most of my days trying to sleep the pain away. Wanting to feel something, I turned to cutting.
Everyone who's struggled with self-harm in the past, or is currently going through it now, has their own reason for doing it. Personally, I did it to know there was a tiny part of me who still wanted to be alive. I knew the second I stopped flinching from the pain, it would be all over.
I haven't cut in over three years, but the scars still remain. There's a fairly faint one on the inside of my left forearm, but some much thicker ones on my upper right and left thighs.
As the years passed, I grew to be more and more comfortable with them... or so I had thought.
While cutting was my preferred method of dealing with the pain brought on by depression, I also turned to random hookups as a means to get through it all. Not a single one of them asked about my scars, until one guy did. I was mortified. I felt my throat constrict and my eyes well up with tears, not knowing what to say. I had never been questioned about my scars and I knew I wasn't ready to talk. So, I lied and told him my dog had scratched me, put my clothes on, and bounced on out of there.
A few weeks later, the same scenario happened with a different guy. He asked. I lied, then left. About a month later, I started casually seeing another man. He never seemed to notice my scars, then one day he nonchalantly questioned me about them.
It was at this point that I felt comfortable talking about them. I wasn't going to hide behind some lame excuse or abruptly change the topic. No, I was going to tell the truth. Long story short, the conversation did not go the way I was hoping. The good news, however, is that talking about my self-harm scars with this guy made it easier to discuss their origins each and every time one of my partners asked about them.
Through my various storytelling experiences, I've learned how to go about having this conversation. If you're ready to tell your partner about your self-harm scars, read on for my advice on how to best handle the matter.
Make Sure You're Ready to Talk
First and foremost, it's important to make sure you're ready to talk about your self-harm scars. It's a terrifying thing to have to reveal your past to someone, especially because you aren't sure how they'll react. But the more comfortable you feel discussing the matter at hand, the easier it will be for both you and your partner.
No matter how many time your partner asks about them or insists they're willing to listen, don't have that conversation until you know you can stomach it. That moment happens at a different time for everyone. When you're ready, you'll know.
Know Your Audience
Once you're ready to have the talk, it's important to know your audience. I don't mean this in a technical way, but rather in a personal way. Although you may love your partner, some people aren't too great at dealing with these sorts of things. It's up to you to figure out the best way to approach this situation.
I've had incredibly intense talks about my experience with self-harm, but I've also had lighthearted chats about them, too. I've handled these discussions in a variety of ways, because every guy I've talked about this with has been different. Some needed to be approached cautiously, while others I knew I was able to dive right in.
It's always best to figure out how you want the conversation to go before you actually have it. Have a plan in place that'll make things as effortless for the both of you.
Maintain Your Confidence Throughout the Conversation
Things are going to get awkward. No matter how much you plan for this conversation to go exactly the way you were hoping, it never does. Sure, you can control the narrative to some extent, but there are always going to be those uncomfortable moments of silence or bursts of anger and frustration that you can't plan for. Let them happen, but don't let them upset or frazzle you.
Maintaining your confidence throughout the entirety of this ordeal will only make you and your partner feel more comfortable. If they don't see you sweat, they'll be able to find their calm as the conversation progresses.
Don't Feel Like You Have to Explain Yourself
Always remember that you are the one leading this conversation. If your partner brings up a subject you don't want to talk about, don't feel like you need to explain yourself any more than you already have.
The less I've felt as though I needed to do this, the more comfortable I was talking to my partner's about my experience with self-harm. I'd share as much or as little as I wanted, and leave it at that.
Sure, your partner may ask a ton of questions, but you shouldn't feel as though you have to have an answer for every single one. If you do, great. If not, great. You control the narrative, always keep that in mind.
Don't Let Their Reaction Affect You
Easier said than done, right? You don't know how someone is going to react to hearing about your brush with self-harm, but you hope it always comes from an empathetic and caring place. That isn't always the case, however. I've had guys get it and guys who straight up looked at me like I was some worthless piece of trash after the fact. But I didn't let any of the various reactions I receive affect how I handled the situation or how I thought about myself after the fact. It wasn't easy to get to that point, but you have to realize that how they deal with you discussing your past, or even current affair, with self-harm says a lot more about them than it does about you.
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