Strength Can Grow From Difficult Self-Harm Memories

November 5, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

We all revisit places from our pasts to remember the memories connected to them. Someone may swing on a childhood swing set to feel a sense of innocence and someone else may revisit an old tree they used to climb to get back that sense of adventure. Memories stick to everything around us and when we least expect it, the feelings connected to those memories can erupt and, at times, overwhelm and possibly lead to self-harm.

Difficult Self-Harm Memories

It feels great to get that rush of excitement when visiting places that carry positive emotions. However, when the situation is flipped, that rush is the furthest from exciting. I’ve stated in previous blogs how certain places at my high school still give me anxiety when I visit. There were certain bathrooms I used to go, when I felt urges to self-harm, that I still avoid today. After leaving for college, I sometimes felt uncomfortable sleeping in my childhood bedroom because that was where I’d spent a lot of time with self-harm in my past.

The selling of my family home opened my eyes to the positive memories from my past and overpowered the negative, self-injurous ones.

Returning to an atmosphere that brings forward negative vibes can be tough and those emotions don’t always quickly disappear. However, once you have moved beyond your struggle with self-harm, you may be able to find peace in places you once found pain. You may be able to see past the negative memories and find strength in their place.

Unfortunately, the childhood home I grew up in has been sold and my mother has been diligently emptying it out. Being I do not live near her anymore, I have not had as many opportunities to help her as I’d hoped. When I think of that house, I mostly think of pool parties, playing in the backyard and making silly movies in the basement.

However, I still have memories from darker times behind those walls – times when the only escape I knew was to cut my skin.

An Empty House and Gaining Perspective and Strength

Just knowing that the house will not be ours anymore practically symbolizes the idea of moving forward. Even though I have been self-harm-free for six years, there have been uneasy moments when I’ve felt haunted by familiar smells and sights that once triggered me to self-harm in that house. It’s good to know that those triggers will no longer be a problem, but it’s even more relieving knowing that I’ve been able to face those triggers and not give in to them over the years.

Now that the house is practically empty, I feel as if the good memories stand out more than the bad. When you take the time to put things into perspective, you start realizing what really mattered and what wasn’t worth the frustration. Maybe this also shows that physical clutter can also clutter your mind. Now that the rooms are clear and spacious, all the carefree, innocent memories from my childhood are coming to the surface.

Appreciate Your Self-Harm-Free Lifestyle

Take the time to appreciate how far you have come on your journey towards a self-harm-free lifestyle. Once knowing that the house I grew up in would no longer be ours, I realized how far I had come since the days when I’d lived there and how much I had learned from those difficult experiences. It isn’t always easy to put yourself back into a difficult position – or “retrace your steps” like I discussed in a past blog. But once you see how far you have come, you will get that much more of a push to keep trying.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, November 5). Strength Can Grow From Difficult Self-Harm Memories, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 18 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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