When I started The Cutting Edge newsletter in 1990 it was to stay in touch with other people, those I had met when I first began creating spaces for people to talk about living with Self-Inflicted Violence (SIV). I had instinctively known that finding others who lived with self-injury would bring me hope and understanding, qualities that were rarely given by those who didn’t struggle in the same way. Eighteen years later we created the web site, then this blog, and I kept writing about the power of relationship to heal. Many of the posts to this blog have emphasized this, even recent writings about the power of relationships with nonhuman animals. Yet I recently realized that I haven’t written about one crucial relationship, the one we have with our very “self.” That is what I want to begin to explore in this post. I’ll be interested to learn what you think about this…
One of the many joys of working for the Sidran Institute is a commitment that we share to “practice what we teach.” The basic beliefs of our work come from Risking Connection, the manuals and training that address how trauma impacts people and how to promote healing. While the information and experiences provided in these trainings and manuals is extensive, we do have a “shortcut” way of getting to the point of what it is all about. We use the acronym “RICH relationships” to simply remind ourselves of what the ground of healing looks and feels like. “R” stands for respect, “I” for information, “C” for connection, and “H” for hope. These principles are the base of healing relationships. My work has, for several decades, been focused on creating space that promotes connection and hope, provides information to those who live with SIV and those who care about them, based on mutual respect. So I’ve written often and repeatedly about how to do this in the context of our relationships with one another.
Yet I missed something! I forgot to apply these principles to the relationship I have with my self. It has taken me some time to question myself about my attitudes about who I am, what I do/don’t do, what I believe about myself…. While I often think about creating hope for others and for our relationships with each other, I rarely have thought about my own hopes, and where I draw personal hope from. The same is true for respect. Do I respect myself? As much as I do my friends? How do I know what it is to feel respect for myself? How do I see my journey with SIV through the lens of respect? If I was my own best friend would I be treating myself any differently?
Am I connected with myself? I know when I feel connected to another person, do I know when I feel the same with the person I am? I often catch myself paying much more attention to the feelings and conversations of others and not notice my own. Not all that “rich” of a relationship, is that?
So that’s my beginning of this conversation and exploration. How do you feel about yourself? Your life with SIV? Do you respect yourself? Have hope for yourself? Feel connected to your “self”? What do you believe about yourself? An inquiring mind wants to know….