One of the most intense underlying experiences I have within dermatillomania, aside from the derma itself, is the fact that the relationship I have developed with myself and my body is one of abuse and neglect. This is because I have used my body as a proverbial ‘punching-bag’ to release and cope with what I am experiencing internally. This is always a very difficult point for me to look at, because in order to see the abuse and neglect, I have to admit it is real, and acknowledge that it has been going on for a long time. In addition to this, I also then see how much of myself I have shut off, shut down, suppressed, ignored and abandoned, and then all the missed opportunities where I could have been supporting myself, expressing myself, and even just getting to know myself.
This emotional reaction is usually highlighted for me when others show concern of care towards me. I become emotional, feeling unworthy yet at the same time, desperately wanting and needing that concern or care, because I have not given it to myself. I realize, when this point comes up, I stand at a cross-roads: do I continue to ignore the problem and perpetuate the current self-relationship, or do I stand, look, and see myself for real, acknowledging what I have accepted and allowed for so long?
If and when I choose to look, action is required. Here, I have to ask myself: How can I develop a relationship of concern and care for myself, while at the same time, knowing I am not ‘cured’, I do not have the OCD completely managed, and in so knowing the behaviour will continue.
What I have seen is that this relationship can only be built over time. So I have identified actions that I can include in my definition of the words care and nurture, which are words I have not effectively lived or developed in my life.
How can I start/continue to develop and create this new relationship with myself, while I, at the same time, let go of the former relationship I had developed in unawareness?
Let me define the terms so that I can live them.
In the context of my self-relationship, I will look at incorporating the following living words (living, meaning not only ‘feeling’ them through feeling and emotions, but rather living them through actions):
To care: to ‘look’, meaning, to see and acknowledge, to realize and understand what I am facing, and to decide to take action, and direct myself to do so. Examples: Writing, doing self-forgiveness, choosing to be present instead of going into the mind and into OCD behaviour by creating a supportive environment by putting on some music, taking a break, doing some physical work to bring me back into my body, pushing myself to focus, or resting. Creating attainable goals, like finishing a blog or a task.
Going to the doctor to check that everything is functioning properly. Taking supplements where necessary to support my body to it’s optimal potential. Talking to professionals to see what other supplements or support I could be giving my body. Researching and testing out holistic treatments for my skin where it requires support.
Reaching out for emotional support where required.
Nurture: to take actions that will lead to growth, healing, development, comfort, support. Making food within the word ‘nurture’ by choosing the foods with consideration, and preparing it properly instead of going hungry or rushing. Cleaning my wounds, not letting myself go so deep, cleaning my tools and keeping everything sterile to prevent infection. Treating and cleaning my skin afterwards. Stopping in order to move myself to go make tea (I’ve been making and drinking tea made from fresh ginger, lemon and honey, with a dash of cayenne pepper).
I also see, realize and understand that this is a process of simple actions, and it requires consistency and pushing. I have the self-trust to know what to do in each tough moment, it is a matter of pushing myself to do it.