Death By A Thousand Cuts: A Reflection on Self Harm

(An older story)

B usually takes the bus home.

On this particular day, though, Kib was traveling out of town, so we would need to pick her up and drive directly to the airport about 45 minutes away in order to be on time.

We load the suitcases and Ruby, and hop in the car to go get B, and as we do that I realize, “I forgot to call the school and tell them she’d be a car rider today!”

Immediately I start to stress out.

We start driving toward the school (about 20 minutes away), and I call to see if the bus has left yet. It has, and she was on it.

More stress.

Now we need to find the bus. As we are driving, we get the address of the next stop and have driven too far past it. We have to double back, and now we are stuck in traffic.


The bus is at a stop where they have decided to wait for us (thankfully). But now we are stuck in traffic and not there to meet it. Now we are holding up everybody.


This entire experience makes my skin crawl as I recall it.

I remember clearly sitting in the passenger seat at that stoplight. The stoplight that was impossibly long and definitely a punishment for making so many mistakes.

At this point in my life, I was starting to wakeup to a lot of my stuff. And in that moment I made a startling realization.

As I waited for that light to turn green, I noticed how upset I was, I noticed that I wanted to smash the dash, I wanted to yell at the light (I might have actually done this one). I noticed that I wanted to tear my hair out. I even imagined it.

I wanted to hurt myself.

I ache at the remembrance of this.

Have you heard that saying, “makes you want to tear your hair out?” I had, but I don’t know that I ever noticed wanting to, until this moment.

When I heard that voice, saw that image, when I realized what was going on in me I got curious, even in the midst of what was occurring. 

We got through the light, and we caught up to the bus. I hopped out and ran to grab B. The bus driver made a snippy remark, which was unsurprising. I couldn’t even look at her or respond. We got in the car and continued on toward the airport. We weren’t really even behind schedule.

I buckled myself in, and as I sat there, I reflected on what had passed. I saw all the narratives, “you’re a piece of shit,” “how could you forget?” And under that even deeper was, “you deserve to be punished,” “you are inconsiderate.”

It was like there was a ninja in my psyche, a silent assassin, flipping around and slicing me with his sword – death by a thousand cuts.

No wonder I wanted to tear my hair out, I was bleeding internally. What was happening inside was so unbearable, that to manifest it on the outside might provide relief. It would have made it real, and it was what I deserved after all…to be punished.

That’s how it felt.

Once I saw that ninja, once I saw the death by a thousand cuts, I sat back in silent sorrow. How could I do this to myself?

As we started driving, I crumpled and wept. I wept for all the things I had just done to myself without even realizing I was doing it. And I wondered how long I had been doing this? I held myself and cried, and cried, and cried. It may be the first time I truly sat with that piece of myself.

When I went from “I’m so angry” to “I want to tear my hair out,” to realizing that meant “I want to hurt myself,” it was like a lightbulb went on. The emotions didn’t evaporate, but a space opened up where another voice had an opportunity to say, “you’re allowed to make mistakes Crystal.” The realization that I wanted to hurt myself was surprising enough to create that space.

All that anguish because I forgot to make a call…

I cry now as I remember this moment.

And I cried then as I held myself.

It’s okay to make mistakes Crystal.

Please like, share, comment, and tag if you think this will help someone else. Be gentle my friends.


Published by whatwouldcavewomandoblog

I want us all to live strong, lean, and healthy existences, as these are the bedrock of health and longevity - for each of us, and the planet. I want us to build the families, businesses and world of our dreams. You and your desires matter. I am on a journey to know and be known, to express myself wholly, to encourage and teach the same, to participate and facilitate enlivening connection through community events and storytelling. On this journey I find myself in Ohio with my two children and husband.

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