Brittany Tinsley is committed to being tenderly vulnerable about her own journey with self-injury, something many of us with traumatic experiences have struggled with. She reminds us of the value of self-compassion and that we don’t have to match the stride of our healing to anything other than our own pace.
Guest blog by Brittany Tinsley-
“I’ve been good for a really long time,” I told her. “I’ve had this under control. It hasn’t been an issue.”
“Try not to think of it as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’,” my therapist advised, her voice gentle. “It just was a mistake, and it gives you a chance to regroup and move forward. There’s nothing inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ about it.”
“But it is bad. There’s no way around it,” I insisted, sighing and sinking further into my seat.
She cocked her head, studying me with soft eyes, and said, “It isn’t bad. It’s desperate.”
A lump rose in my throat, and I had a momentary flash of clarity. I knew she was right. My therapist paused for a moment, quiet.
“What would you have said to yourself back then? What would you say to that girl who was trying so hard?” she asked.
I didn’t have an answer that day.
Today, I do.
To the One Slowly Overcoming,
First of all, take a breath. Your world probably feels a little shaky and fragile right now, and that’s okay. Take your time. Move slowly, and when you’re able. There’s no need to rush. You did something really hard and really brave, so be gentle and patient with yourself, and give yourself some grace.
I know you might not be proud of yourself, of the places that you’ve been and the things you’ve done. But, you’ve come through that and past that, and you’re not in that place anymore. The road hasn’t been easy or smooth, but you’ve continued pushing forward, and for that, you should be proud. You should be so, so proud.
The coming months, and maybe years, will be confusing as you try to reconcile that version of yourself with the person you were and the person you are becoming. You’ll try to outrun the facts and memories and maybe yourself, and will likely cling to a narrative that is easier to understand.
There will be days when you want to hunker down forever and let the world pass you by. Rest, but don’t forget to emerge again. You are deserving of happiness and goodness and beauty in your life. Yes, even now. Especially now. Don’t believe for a second the lies whispered to you in the dead of night about what you could have or should have done. You are a child of God, created in His likeness, and He loves you no matter what you have done, where you have been, or how far you have gone. He works all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. One day, the very depths you fear just might be your wellspring of creativity and community and calling.
On the days when the load feels too heavy to bear, when the fight feels too hard, and the journey feels too long, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is strength found in knowing when you’re in over your head. Don’t let yourself drown because you’re too stubborn or too embarrassed or too scared to say you can’t keep treading water. There are people in lifeboats waiting and willing to take you back to shore.
You might not have had a soft place to land then, but you do now. So, land. If I could, I’d wrap you in a hug, stroke your hair, and whisper to you over and over again that you’re safe. You’re safe to let the tension fall out of your shoulders, to allow air to fill your lungs. It’s safe for you to fall apart. It’s safe to acknowledge the fear and sadness and pain that you carry, tucked away where you hope no one notices. It’s safe to go to that place because you don’t live there anymore. You won’t get stuck.
You’re going to be okay.